Police Watch: Former Tonic employee arrested, man busted in Starbucks ‘theft’

Police arrested 27-year-old Asuka Murota for possession of a controlled substance inside the Duane Reade at 254 Park Avenue South last Friday at 6:42 a.m. An employee at the store told police that Murota started peeling a banana and drinking from the water cooler. Murota allegedly told the employee, “I’m not paying for sh–.” When officers arrived, Murota said, “I was dehydrated,” and allegedly said that she didn’t have money to pay.
After searching her, she was found in possession of stolen multivitamin gummies and calcium supplements totaling $28.57, two glassine bags of marijuana and a glassine bag of PCP, police said. She was also charged with petit larceny, possession of stolen property and possession of marijuana.

Police arrested 22-year-old Oluwaseyi Fasoye for petit larceny inside Tonic at 411 Third Avenue last Sunday at 4:10 p.m. On a previous day, Fasoye allegedly stole two CO2 tanks from the restaurant and attempted to remove a cash register by pulling it and ripping the wires from the wall while stating, “I’m taking the f—ing computer.”
Fasoye allegedly returned to the restaurant on Sunday, demanding to be compensated for the three days that he had worked there. Police said that he had refused to provide the manager of the restaurant with his personal information in order to process the paycheck. He allegedly verbally threatened the victim, screaming, “I’m gonna f—ing kill you,” while inside the restaurant, causing alarm to the victim and patrons in the restaurant. When police attempted to arrest him, Fasoye allegedly flailed his arms, pushed officers and refused to be handcuffed. He was also charged with resisting arrest, criminal mischief and harassment.

Police arrested 43-year-old Jorge Acosta for possession of burglar’s tools at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 21st Street last Thursday at 11:53 p.m. Police said that they saw Acosta sitting in the back seat of a car that was parked at the corner with the alarm going off and when they approached, he allegedly walked away from the car holding property that he had taken from the vehicle. Upon further investigation, police found that the window on the rear passenger door was shattered. Acosta was also charged with petit larceny, unauthorized use of vehicle, criminal mischief and possession of stolen property.

Thirty-year-old Damian Santiago was arrested for petit larceny inside the Starbucks at 1140 Broadway last Thursday at 7:20 p.m. Santiago allegedly admitted to taking approximately 10 bags of coffee from his place of employment to sell or exchange for the repair of his son’s tablet. Santiago told police that he sold the bags to a man who used to have a cell phone shop at 1177 Broadway.

Thirty-year-old Romaine Reynolds was arrested for assault last Monday after he allegedly cut another man’s neck with a fork. He further menaced the victim with a knife, causing him to fear for his safety, police said. Reynolds was also charged with menacing and possession of a weapon.

Police arrested 39-year-old Zipora Moskowitz for assault in front of Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital at 281 First Avenue last Monday at 8:14 p.m. An employee at the hospital said that she was attempting to calm down Moskowitz, who was a patient and acting disorderly, when Moskowitz allegedly bit the employee on the wrist.

Police arrested 35-year-old Samuel McBee for petit larceny in front of the Gristedes at 512 Second Avenue last Tuesday at 11:16 a.m. McBee allegedly concealed nine packages of meat in his suitcase. He attempted to leave the store through the entrance, passing the cash registers and without paying, police said.

Police arrested 51-year-old Luis Feliciano for criminal mischief last Tuesday at 1:13 p.m. inside New Taco Express at 130 East 28th Street. An officer was responding to the scene of a crime in progress when the victim, who works at the restaurant, told him that Feliciano was refusing to leave the location. Feliciano and the victim then got into a fight and five minutes later, Feliciano walked back to the location and allegedly kicked the front door, breaking the glass. The victim claimed that the glass was worth about $400. Police said that Feliciano and the victim did not know each other but the incident occurred as a result of a fight they got into at the restaurant.

Thirty-one-year-old Gary D’Emilio was arrested for grand larceny last Thursday after he allegedly swiped jewelry from a victim’s apartment. Police said that the property’s value exceeded $1,000. Upon further investigation, police found that he was also responsible for three additional cases of grand larceny last year, but no other information about the incidents was available.

Three men were arrested in separate incidents last week for possession of K2, which is a synthetic cannabinoid.
Leon Durham, 29, was arrested for an unclassified violation of New York State laws last Tuesday at 9:51 a.m. at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 25th Street. Police said that Durham was in possession of K2.
Thirty-nine-year-old Shafeer Rahmin was also charged with an unclassified violation of New York State laws last Wednesday at 9:53 a.m. in front of 45 West 25th Street after police found that he was allegedly in possession of K2 synthetic marijuana in public view.
Police arrested 21-year-old Andrew Desmond for criminal trespassing and an unclassified violation of New York State laws inside the Chase Bank ATM at 69 Fifth Avenue last Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. Desmond was allegedly sleeping inside a bank without permission to be there and had no bank card on him. After searching him, police found that he was also in possession of three bags of alleged K2.

Police arrested 44-year-old Patrick Bradley for possession of marijuana last Tuesday at 11:03 a.m. in front of 16 East 23rd Street. Bradley was allegedly smoking marijuana on a public sidewalk. Upon searching him, Bradley was also in possession of a bag of marijuana, police said.

Police arrested 56-year-old John Haigler for an unclassified violation of New York State laws at the corner of East 24th Street and Second Avenue last Friday at 10:05 a.m. Haigler was allegedly drinking a can of Colt 45 in plain view on the sidewalk.

Police arrested 36-year-old Steven Mykietyn for possession of a weapon at the corner of Union Square East and East 14th Street last Wednesday at 6:10 p.m. Mykietyn was allegedly in possession of a gravity knife that he had clipped to his pants in public view.

Police arrested two men for an alleged drug sale last Wednesday around 7:45 p.m.
Thirty-seven-year-old Kevin Williams was arrested in front of 149 East 23rd Street for intent to sell a controlled substance, sale of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.
Oscar Turnage, 62, was arrested down the block in front of 145 East 23rd Street for sale of a controlled substance. Williams and Turnage allegedly sold a controlled substance to an undercover officer. Williams was also charged with resisting arrest and police said that he flailed his arms and attempted to run from the officers. He was also allegedly in possession of more of the controlled substance.

Thirty-year-old Maximillian Gonzalez was arrested for assault in front of 235 East 27th Street last Saturday at 2:05 a.m. Gonzalez allegedly struck the victim from behind, causing pain and swelling on his left eyebrow and temple. He was also charged with disorderly conduct.

CB5 hopes to curtail promotional events on plazas

One of numerous promotional events to take place at the Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza last summer (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

One of numerous promotional events to take place at the Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza last summer (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Since the city’s pedestrian plazas made their debut in 2009, along with being a peaceful destination for those seeking a place to sit outside – albeit inches from traffic — they’ve also become big business for companies looking to hawk products to passersby.

That ongoing commercialization of the public spaces is the source of some contention for representatives of Community Board 5, who, after hearing about a concert planned for the Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza that’s expected to draw a crowd of 10,000, made their displeasure known to the mayor.

The event is planned for February 12 at the north plaza and will require setup for three days prior to it taking place.

This was the topic of discussion held at a CB5 Parks Committee meeting last Monday, according to Jack Taylor, a member of the committee who attended and said he was against it, and that the rest of his fellow members spoke against it as well.

“It stunned everybody,” said Taylor. “They are planning for an audience of 10,000 people largely in but overflowing from the pedestrian plaza on the west side of Madison Square Park. It’s very alarming and massive and if it’s as described or proposed, it’s going to be very hard for pedestrians and drivers and just about anyone in the district.”

Exactly a week after the meeting, CB5’s chair, Vikki Barbero, along with Clayton Smith, chair of the Parks and Public Spaces Committee, penned a letter to the mayor to ask why community boards don’t get any say in the arranging of such commercial events. Meanwhile the city’s Street Activity and Permit Office apparently has sole discretion.

“The Department of Transportation created the pedestrian plaza network and is the city agency responsible for their oversight,” wrote Barbero and Smith. “The area BIDs were chosen to activate, administer and protect these plazas. Why, then, has the Street Activity Permit Office been given the sole discretion to make final determinations of what special events are appropriate for these public spaces?”

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Mendez fights on for return of former PS 64/CHARAS center to community use

Councilmember Rosie Mendez at a rally over the former community center

Council Member Rosie Mendez at a rally over the former community center (Photo by John Blasco)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents joined City Councilmember Rosie Mendez at City Hall last Tuesday on Three Kings Day to deliver an online petition and over a thousand holiday cards to Mayor Bill de Blasio, asking him to help return the former PS 64 building for community use. The cards and petition were delivered along with gold-wrapped chocolate coins, frankincense and myrrh, in honor of the holiday.

Local politicians and community advocates have been fighting to get the former public school back from real estate developer Gregg Singer, who bought the building from the city for $3.15 million when then-mayor Rudolph Giuliani auctioned it off in 1998. Three years later in 2001, Singer evicted the building’s tenant, local community center CHARAS/El Bohio, which had been using the landmarked building since the 1970s. The building, located at 605 East 9th Street, has been vacant for the last 13 years.

CHARAS was founded in the 1960s by a group of Puerto Rican men (who used their initials to create the name for the organization) in response to the crisis in the Lower East Side at the time, where an increasing number of residential buildings were in tax foreclosure and residents were fleeing the neighborhood.

Local advocates have had marginal success in fighting Singer’s plans, including saving the building from demolition in 2008, as the Post recently noted. A Post story at the time said Singer had been trying to argue that the building shouldn’t have been considered a landmark, primarily because he had stripped the facade of most of its architectural details, but a Manhattan Supreme Court justice ruled against him, upholding the building’s landmark status and thwarting his plan to build a 19-story dorm.

Singer has yet to give up on his plans for a dorm, however, going so far as to sign leases with both the Joffrey Ballet Center Concert Group Program (CGP) and Cooper Union in early 2013. Singer has steadily continued the work for the dormitory but the plan was put on hold again last September when the Department of Buildings issued a Stop Work Order to halt construction.

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UPDATED: Grill 21, Rose closing, Ess-A-Bagel moving

Grill 21 restaurant

Grill 21 restaurant

By Sabina Mollot

Three restaurants that are located at the corner of East 21st Street and First Avenue, Ess-A-Bagel, Grill 21 and Rose Restaurant, won’t be getting their leases renewed, T&V has learned.

Henry Beck, a Stuyvesant Town resident who owns Grill 21 with wife Marissa, said their business will likely close at the end of the month. He’s not sure if they’ll move it elsewhere. According to Beck, both his business and Ess-A-Bagel have been denied lease renewals and new businesses are already lined up to move in.

Those businesses are Bank of America and Tal Bagels.

David Wilpon, the owner of Ess-A-Bagel said the longtime bagel joint may be moving somewhere close by but it’s nowhere near a done deal. “There’s a lot that’s up in the air,” he said, adding that he’s still holding out some hope of staying put. He’s also requesting a holdover and is in the midst of negotiations. Meanwhile, the company also has a second location on Third Avenue in midtown.

Wilpon said the trouble with his lease started when his aunt, Florence Wilpon, who’d founded the businesses in 1976, died. This was in September, 2013 during the midst of negotiations for a renewal. After that, while the family was dealing with the will and related issues, “They claimed we weren’t getting back to them in a timely fashion.”

He said he heard that both the bank and the bagel restaurant will be moving into the Ess-A-Bagel space, which is technically two spaces that were divided prior to his restaurant’s opening.

Wilpon chalked up the impending closure as part of the pattern of the city’s landlords preferring to oust mom-and-pops in the hopes of getting a corporation that can pay more.

“It’s endemic of the city; they’re pushing out independent businesses,” he said.

Beck said the owner of the building is L&M Development Partners, and that the owner has already taken away Grill 21’s storage space. Grill 21, a Filipino restaurant, opened in 2005.

A principal at L&M, Ron Moelis, didn’t return a request for comment on the owner’s plans for the property or at least the storefronts. The company develops properties, including affordable housing, and also handles commercial leasing.

(UPDATE: See response from a rep for the owner, an LLC called East 21 Retail, below the article.)

Another restaurant that will be closing is Rose Restaurant, which an employee said will be happening “as soon as possible. The landlord wanted too much money.”
The owners may reopen a restaurant in the Bronx “but not yet and not Manhattan,” he said.

Ess-A-Bagel and Grill 21 expect to have their last days at the end of the month.

A shoe repair shop in the same property is also expected to be given the boot soon.

The owner of Frank’s Shoe Repair said he was unsure of what was happening with his business, as he’s been hearing different stories from neighbors and customers. However, before hanging up his phone, he added that he didn’t see the point of discussing it, anyway.

“It’s nothing to do with you,” he said. “You can’t help us. It’s called business. The big fish eats the small fish.”

Meanwhile, another nearby restaurant/bakery owned by the Becks on East 21st Street and Second Avenue, Pan de Sal, has also closed. The closure of the eatery happened about a month ago due to business being terrible, Beck said. The fact that the storefront was partially obscured by scaffolding since it opened in 2011 “didn’t help.

“The owner told me it was coming down in July; he didn’t say which year. It was a beautiful thing and we had a lot of fun times there,” added Beck, who’s also an associate broker with the Corcoran Group, “but of course you have to make a decision.”

UPDATE: On Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the owner contacted us and said L&M is not the owner of the building; East 21 Retail LLC is.

When informed of this, T&V spoke with Beck and Wilpon who said they’d believed they were dealing with L&M and affiliated partners.

Beck said, “The people we talk to are still the same. Christina Warner (of L&M) is a part owner. My feeling is they’re still part owners.”

When called for comment, Warner said due to company policy any comment would have to come from East 21’s spokesperson who contacted us.

Wilpon told T&V, “I always thought they (L&M) were (the owner) and we paid to their partnerships.”

We then asked the East 21 Retail LLC spokesperson who owned the LLC, and she admitted that there was some overlap between the two entities, with Ron Moelis, CEO at L&M, being a part owner.

As far as Ess-A-Bagel’s moving out is concerned, the owner issued the following statement:

“When we purchased the property, our main priority was to keep Ess-A-Bagel as a tenant. Ess-A-Bagel is a tradition in this city and we had no desire to see them leave. In the three years since, we’ve bent over backwards to come to a mutually fair agreement with Ess-A-Bagel’s owners. Our offer would have allowed Ess-A-Bagel to remain — and even gave them the option to expand — in the space they are in currently. Unfortunately, it takes two sides to make a deal, and Ess-A-Bagel’s owners repeatedly refused to meet us between their below-market rent and current market value. We regret that Ess-A-Bagel chose to misrepresent our intentions in the press. We take our responsibility as landlords very seriously and worked diligently to keep Ess-A-Bagel as a tenant. At a meeting in September, Ess-A-Bagel confirmed they were actively negotiating a lease at a new location. We wish them the best of luck in all their future endeavors.”

Regarding the neighboring restaurants, the spokesperson said Grill 21 was on a month-to-month lease and made a decision to close, while Rose Restaurant was seven months behind in rent.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified Tal Bagels as Tower.

13th Precinct cops shown love at luncheon

Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison plants a kiss on Lieutenant Sammy Ponce of the 13th Precinct, where she  was one of the organizers of a luncheon last Thursday.

Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison plants a kiss on Lieutenant Sammy Ponce of the 13th Precinct, where she was one of the organizers of a luncheon last Thursday.

By Sabina Mollot

In a show of support to local cops following the shooting deaths of two officers and amidst the unofficial but can’t-miss-it-either standoff between the NYPD and the mayor, Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, held a luncheon last Thursday to recognize the work of the 13th Precinct.

The low-key ceremony and lunch at the stationhouse was attended by current and former officers on the beat, and organized, along with Harrison, by the precinct’s Detective Ray Dorrian and GPBA Board Member Kathleen Scupp.

At the event, Harrison acknowledged the cops’ rift with City Hall in a speech, saying the community’s support remained unwavering.

“Now, while the president, the attorney general, the mayor and the police commissioner continue to play their increasingly dangerous political blame games, your lives are more than ever on the line,” she told the crowd. “When you are not safe, no one is safe. When you are in danger, we are in danger. Once again we return here today to embrace you, to support you, and to tell you how grateful we are to you and how much we love you.”

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Letters to the Editor: Jan. 15

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Subletting requires more than just matchmaking

To the Editor:

Your story of January 8, 2014, entitled “New business aims to find sublets for students in Stuyvesant Town,” may lead to a misimpression, namely, that making arrangements for a sublet through Lucas Chu may be the complete, legal process.

Tenants should be aware that ST/PCV sublets are governed by rent stabilization regulations. DHCR Fact Sheet #7 lays out the obligations of the prime tenant which include, among other things, informing the owner of an intent to sublet 30 days in advance by certified, return receipt letter and spelling out the terms of the sublease.

Unsuspecting tenants may not realize their obligations or even that they may be in violation of rent regulation laws and unknowingly circumventing these requirements. The result could be eviction should the landlord choose to pursue it.

Ultimately, the approval of a sublet rests with landlord. As CWCapital’s spokesperson pointed out, Mr. Chu is marketing a legal service. This “legal service” is essentially a matchmaking service, but will CWCapital/Compass Rock vet the subletters? Is CW/CR now relaxing subletting requirements?

It used to be – and may still be – very difficult, if not impossible, for long-term tenants to get approval for a sublet. Are students in a privileged position?

Frequent short-term subletting increases the transient nature and instability of our community. It depletes our quality of life. It undermines our security. Characterizing Mr. Chu and the landlord’s apparent comfort with his services as outrageous is understating the case.


Susan Steinberg,
Chair, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association

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Judge sends lenders’ suit back to state court

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A federal court judge has decided that the lawsuit against CWCapital by a group of junior lenders involved in Stuyvesant Town should be handled by a state court, as the lenders had been hoping.

It was on Monday when United States District Judge Alison Nathan remanded the litigation to the New York State court where it was originally filed.

In the decision, Nathan wrote that “this case invokes no comparable federal interest, scheme or agency. Rather it is a contract dispute between private parties, turning almost entirely on construction of a private contract, and failing to present any dispositive question of federal law.”

The lawsuit was filed last summer after CWCapital took ownership of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper through a deed, rather than holding a planned foreclosure sale on mezzanine debt. A group of lenders represented by Centerbridge Partners had hoped for a chance to buy a key piece of the mezzanine or junior debt and accused CW of violating an intercreditor agreement. The deed-in-lieu of auction wipes out the value of the junior debt, they’d argued, allowing CW to reap an “unearned windfall” when the property is sold.

They also accused CW of inflating the interest it was owed to calculate the total senior debt at $4.4 billion.

However, in its arguments, the lenders said that even though they believe CW’s figures are wrong, they still stand to “reap windfall profits regardless of how the interest rate is calculated on the senior loan.”

Even when using CW’s “incorrect and vastly overstated senior loan payoff amount of $4.4 billion, the value of Stuy Town is still worth hundreds of millions of dollars more,” the lenders said.

News of the court action was first reported on Tuesday by Law360, a legal news service.

Michele de Milly, a spokesperson for Centerbridge, declined to comment on the latest court action. Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for CWCapital, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Last month, the total amount of debt as calculated by CW reached $4.7 billion, a figure announced at a Tenants Association meeting by Council Member Dan Garodnick. He explained the amount was due to interest and fees. It’s also the amount that was reportedly being prepared as a bid by CWCapital’s parent company, Fortress. The Tenants Association has since said it is still hoping for a tenant-led condo conversion with partner Brookfield.

Following the suit being remanded, Susan Steinberg, chair of the ST-PCV Tenants Association said it basically just means more waiting around for would-be buyers.

“The decision to remand the case back to state court means that if CWCapital is waiting to settle with Centerbridge et. al. before proceeding with plans to sell, it will have a longer wait,” said Steinberg. “Ultimately, so will would-be buyers, including the tenants here. Whether the remand is a good or a bad thing for either the plaintiffs or the defendants will depend on which judge the case comes before. We will stay tuned.”

Man busted for ‘fraudulent’ checks, pot arrest in Stuy Town

Police arrested 23-year-old David Hazel for the sale of marijuana in front of 17 Stuyvesant Oval last Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. Hazel allegedly sold a quantity of marijuana to an undercover officer.

Thirty-year-old Vasiliy Ranchinskiy was arrested for grand larceny and fraud last Wednesday at 3 p.m. inside the TD Bank at 90 Fifth Avenue. Ranchinskiy allegedly deposited two counterfeit checks in the amount of $16,483.14 and $18,193.82 into someone else’s account and gained access to the cash without permission. Police said that he also deposited checks in the amount of $3,900, $11,700 and $3,900 inside another TD Bank location at 260 Park Avenue South, as well as additional checks for $9,900 and $9,980 and inside the 90 Fifth Avenue location. He also allegedly negotiated four counterfeit checks against the victim’s business checking account to the sum of $4,468.

Police arrested 41-year-old Pedro Quintana for burglary and possession of stolen property last Tuesday at 5:20 p.m. inside the Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center at 10 Union Square East. Police said that he was in possession of a stolen MetroCard, which had been used at the 125th Street and St. Nicholas subway station and had been taken from an office at Beth Israel a few days before. Quintana wasn’t a patient of the hospital when he was seen inside the room and he was picked out of a line-up by a witness.

Police arrested 29-year-old Michael Slater for possession of marijuana and an unclassified traffic violation at the corner of Avenue C and East 16th Street last Monday at 3:40 p.m. Slater was driving a white Mercedes north from East 13th Street on Avenue C. He entered a crosswalk at East 15th Street and Avenue A, stuck in traffic at a green light. The light started to change and when traffic in front of Slater cleared, he continued through the intersection through a steady red light, police said. He was stopped on Avenue C and East 16th Street and was also in possession of alleged marijuana.

Police arrested two people involved in a motor vehicle accident with three unoccupied cars last Tuesday at 3:35 p.m. Jorge Montealegre, 25, was arrested for disorderly conduct in front of 16 West 20th Street and Ronald Guillen, 32, was arrested for an unclassified traffic infraction and intoxicated driving in front of 20 West 20th Street. Montealgre was at the scene of the accident and got into an argument with the other people involved. Police told him to leave multiple times but he allegedly refused to comply. Guillen, who police said was driving, was allegedly unsteady on his feet with slurred speech and refused a Breathalyzer test.

Nineteen-year-old Billy Wynn was arrested for forgery at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 14th Street last Tuesday at 4:37 p.m. Wynn allegedly attempted to sell two fraudulent concert tickets to a plainclothes officer. He was in possession of additional fraudulent tickets, police said. Wynn was also charged with petit larceny and fraudulent accosting.

Police arrested 25-year-old Kianna Brown for grand larceny, forgery of a motor vehicle registration and possession of stolen property inside the Tekserve store at 119 West 23rd Street last Wednesday at 3:51 p.m. An employee at the store told police that Brown attempted to buy an Apple iPad mini, MacBook Pro and USB hard drive with a stolen credit card and fraudulent license. Police said that she was also in possession of two other fraudulent credit cards in her left jacket pocket.
Brown had attempted to purchase the iPad on December 4, 2014 and the computer last Wednesday. The employee only realized that there was a problem with the card after Brown left on December 4 so when Brown returned to purchase the computer, the employee reported the previous incident as well.

A teenager was arrested inside the Straus Houses at 243 East 27th Street last Friday at 9:13 p.m. for assault and menacing. The teen got into an argument with her mother and cut her mother’s right inner thigh with a broken piece of a ceramic bowl, causing a cut. The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital. The name of the teen is being withheld due to her age.

Police made three drug-related arrests near Third Avenue and East 28th Street last Sunday.
Sharry Daniels, 19, was arrested in front of 244 East 28th Street at 8:40 p.m. for sale of a controlled substance, sale of marijuana and possession of marijuana. Daniels allegedly exchanged a quantity of marijuana and MDMA for cash with an undercover detective. Police said that she was in possession of marijuana and packaging materials. Daniels was also charged with criminal trespassing.
Sean Christianson, 35, was arrested at the corner of Third Avenue and East 27th Street at 9:35 p.m. for intent to sell a controlled substance and sale of a controlled substance. Christianson was allegedly exchanging a quantity of a controlled substance for cash with David Popplewell, 36, who was charged with possession of a controlled substance at Third Avenue and East 28th Street. Christianson was also in possession of a quantity of a controlled substance that he intended to sell, police said.

Police arrested 27-year-old Eric Almonte for assault inside Bellevue Hospital at 462 First Avenue last Thursday at 12:25 a.m. Almonte allegedly bit the hand of an officer who was escorting him, causing bruises and substantial pain. Police said that Almonte also spat in the officer’s face.

Police arrested 25-year-old Thomas Lalonde for theft of services on Madison Avenue near East 25th Street last Saturday at 4:12 a.m. Lalonde hailed a taxi at the corner of Hudson and 10th Street and told the driver to take him to West 39th Street and Sixth Avenue. During the ride, he changed his destination to Madison Avenue and East 25th Street and when the taxi reached the location, Lalonde allegedly couldn’t pay the $9.30 fare. Police said that his credit card was swiped but came up “denied.”

Police arrested 31-year-old Emmanuel Pearto for an unclassified violation of New York State laws at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 25th Street. Pearto was allegedly in possession of K2 synthetic marijuana in public view.

Community Boards 3, 6 create task force on waterfront resiliency

Kayakers fill the East River by Stuyvesant Cove Park during an event last June. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Kayakers fill the East River by Stuyvesant Cove Park during an event last June. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 and 3 recently formed a joint task force to offer guidance on how new features along the East Side waterfront can be incorporated into a recently-funded project focused on waterfront resiliency. The new task force met for the first time this past Monday to discuss preliminary ideas for the project and is composed of 11 representatives, including members of CB3, CB6 and various community stakeholders.

CB6 chair Sandro Sherrod, who is also chairing the task force, said that while construction isn’t expected to begin until at least 2017 and the project is currently in the conceptual design phase, the task force is planning to have additional meetings and invite the public to look at different options and various design elements.

The project, which is spearheaded by the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR), is known as the BIG U and is the result of a design competition that was held by Housing and Urban Development in which participants came up with ideas on how to fix areas that were heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. HUD approved $335 million in funding for the project last October.

The BIG U in the project refers to a ten-mile long protective barrier to be built along the east side of Manhattan from East 42nd Street down to the Battery, then looping in a U shape up to East 57th Street. Instead of typical flood barriers and walls, the project proposes to include seawalls, raised pathways, parks, locally appropriate berms and mechanized operable barriers. The plan splits the project into three distinct zones, one of which is the area between Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side and East 23rd Street.

The “zone” from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side along the waterfront extends to East 23rd Street but this area is split into two different parts. The first project area includes the region below East 14th Street, which includes a number of NYCHA developments on the Lower East Side that were badly damaged by flooding, currently has more concrete design plans than the second project area but the task force will be working with the BIG U team to solidify ideas for the area north of East 14th Street.

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New business aims to find sublets for students in Stuyvesant Town

Lucas Chu of NY College Rentals

Lucas Chu of NY College Rentals

By Sabina Mollot

While many longtime residents of Stuyvesant Town would be quick to argue that there are enough college students living in the community already, one entrepreneur is hoping to become the go-to person for students seeking a sublet at the property and said he’s arranged a few sublets already.

Lucas Chu, 27, has set up a website, nycollegerentals.com, aiming to connect would be subletters with residents looking to rent out their apartments for two to six month periods throughout Manhattan. However he’s currently pushing to do more in Stuy Town and the East Village, in particular Stuy Town due to its popularity with NYU students.

“I want to make that area my focus,” Chu told Town & Village on Tuesday. He’s found the sublets there and other neighborhoods south of Harlem through online listings, but said recently tenants and would-be subletters have also begun reaching out to him. “I want to represent more apartments in Stuy Town; there’s a lot of interest from NYU students,” he said. “So far I’ve handled three. I want to do more.”

The way it usually works is, after a tenant expresses interest, “I come over and assess the apartment. I take photos, I put up a listing,” Chu said. Listings go on real estate websites like Trulia and Streeteasy.

The service is free to the tenant offering the apartment, while the student pays a fee of 13.5 percent of what the rent costs each month of the stay. In order to comply with the illegal hotels law, which says residential units can’t be rented out for stays of 30 days or less, he’s made a point to make the arrangements a minimum of two months. Sublets can be for up to two years.

Chu, in his online bio, said he used to work for the Corcoran Group but recently branched out on his own and that he learned about working in real estate, including property management, from his father.

He’s been arranging sublets over the past year, he said, noting that some people just don’t want to get locked into a one or two-year lease. He also currently runs a commercial video production company called Melty Cone. His real estate website went up about six months ago, though this week, it attracted the attention of the Stuyvesant Town Report Blog for its push to get residents to sublet.

When told by this reporter about how the growth of the student population in recent years has also coincided with an increase in quality of life complaints from longterm tenants, usually of rowdy behavior and excess noise, Chu said, “There’s always anger when change happens. I guess I’ll do my research.”

When asked for CW’s thoughts about the new subletting service, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for the owner, said while management had no relationship to the company, it wouldn’t be CW’s place to tell Chu not to market a legal service to residents.

On his website, Chu notes that NYU “recommends our real estate services to all their students.”

However, a spokesperson for NYU, when questioned by T&V, said that isn’t exactly correct, although NYCollege Rentals is mentioned on the university’s website on a page offering information to students to aid in their apartment searches. NYU spokesperson Philip Lentz, said, “The site is listed among other sites in our resources for students. It’s not an endorsement.”

The mention of NY College Rentals also notes that NYU students get a discount on the broker fee though the company isn’t affiliated with NYU. NYU’s website also says that there are around 250 graduate students living in Stuyvesant Town in apartments leased through the school.

What does investigation of Silver mean for tenants?

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

By Sabina Mollot

Following the news that last week that Sheldon Silver, the longtime speaker of the Assembly, is being investigated for mysterious payments received for his non-legislative work as an attorney, what effect this may have, if any, on tenants, remains to be seen. Silver and the Democrat-led Assembly have been supporters of the rent laws, which are up for renewal this year.

Last Monday, the New York Times reported how Silver is being investigated by federal authorities over substantial payments he received from a small law firm, Goldberg & Iryami that seeks tax reductions for different properties in the city. The investigation over the payments, made over a period of a decade, is to determine precisely what kind of work Silver, a personal injury attorney, did since he isn’t known to have experience in challenging real estate tax assessments, the Times said. The payments weren’t listed on his annual financial disclosure forms. The investigation began out of work done by the governor’s now defunct Moreland Commission.

A spokesperson for Silver did not respond to a request for comment from Town & Village on the investigation. There was also no response to our question of what, if anything, the speaker plans to do to strengthen the rent stabilization laws that are up for renewal this June.

Meanwhile, Mike McKee, treasurer of TenantsPAC (Political Action Committee), said he thinks it’s too soon to predict if an investigation of Silver could weaken the position of Assembly Democrats.

“It’s hard to say; Shelly’s been investigated before many times,” said McKee.

Silver, who made it through a coup attempt in 2000, was also more recently under scrutiny for authorizing hush money payments to staffers of former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who said he sexually harassed them.

“I have no reason to believe he won’t be elected speaker (again). At the moment, this is simply newspaper stories. If something major comes out of this investigation, if he’s indicted, that’s another matter.” (On Wednesday morning, Silver was re-elected as speaker.)

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OP-ED: The legacy of Mario Cuomo

In November, 1993, Governor Mario Cuomo signed a bill into law that created a new $210M  program for mental health services by redirecting savings from psychiatric hospitals that were closing and creating a network of local programs. (Pictured with Cuomo are Sanders, the bill’s author, and State Senator Nick Spano.)

In November, 1993, Governor Mario Cuomo signed a bill into law that created a new $210M program for mental health services by redirecting savings from psychiatric hospitals that were closing and creating a network of local programs. (Pictured with Cuomo are Sanders, the bill’s author, and State Senator Nick Spano.)

By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Much has been written about Mario Cuomo since his passing a week ago. I had the honor to serve in government as a member of the New York State Assembly during his 12 years in office as governor. During that time I got to know him on a personal and political basis.

Mario Cuomo was a fiercely loyal man. Loyal to his family, loyal to his convictions and loyal to the state that he governed from 1983 through 1994. He was a man of high intellect and unquestioned integrity. These traits seem desperately wanting in today’s generation of politicians… with notable exceptions of course. Mario Cuomo did not need a press advisor to distill what he said on a given issue. He was clear and articulate, and he was unequivocal. Reason, logic and eloquent speaking were his stock in trade in government. And unlike most, he led by example.

He was his generation’s spokesperson for the virtues of government as a force for good. When President Ronald Reagan declared that government itself was the problem, Mario Cuomo advocated the view that government is an equalizing and essential instrument for social progress when entrusted in the right hands. And like Lincoln he sought out “the better angels” of people’s nature.

When the public and politicians were clamoring and pandering for the death penalty as a way to respond to rising crime rates, Cuomo stood apart at great political risk and prevented its use in New York. Although a devout Catholic, and contrary to the importunes of the Church hierarchy, Cuomo made the legal and moral case for a woman’s right to choose. Before a national audience in 1984 Cuomo warned against the growing inequality in America and the schism of “haves” and “have nots” that was leading to “a tale of two cities” 30 years before Bill de Blasio co-opted that theme. Like the Kennedys of the 1960s, Mario Cuomo inspired a new generation of young people to join public service through his intellect and charismatic eloquence.

When given an opportunity to run for president in 1988 and 1992 he demurred and put any national aspirations aside because he felt that his promised work in New York State was still unfinished. That decision came from his heart as well as his head. Logic, loyalty and commitment overruled what may have been his political passions and ambitions.

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From Vietnam refugee to NY clergy

Immaculate Conception Church celebrates a parochial vicar there nearly 40 years

Father Francis Buu (center) surrounded by other parish clergy at a December 28 mass celebrating his 40th anniversary of priestly ordination. (Photos by Kim Ramsay)

Father Francis Buu (center) surrounded by other parish clergy at a December 28 mass celebrating his 40th anniversary of priestly ordination. (Photos by Lisa Ramsay)

By Sabina Mollot

When Francis Xavier Buu was a child growing up in South Vietnam, he knew he wanted to become a priest, and against all odds, including his country’s economy collapsing in 1975, and his becoming a refugee not long after he’d become ordained, he still had his dream of working in the Catholic church come true.

On December 28, 2014, Buu, now a parochial vicar, celebrated his 40th anniversary of priestly ordination, 39 of those years at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

Over 100 people, mainly friends and family, were in attendance at a dinner, held that day while a crowd of over 400 people, mainly parishioners, attended a celebratory mass, also that Sunday, in his honor.

In a twist of irony, Reverend Buu, whose heavily accented English can still be tough to understand to those who don’t know him well, is well known throughout the parish community for the personal service he offers, usually through one-on-one communion or counsel.

Immaculate Conception’s pastor, Reverend Monsignor Kevin Nelan, noted that Buu comprehends English as well as anyone born in the United States. However, he’s always had trouble speaking it.

“It was a great challenge,” said Nelan, of finding the best way to put Buu’s skills to use since, despite his intelligence, the language barrier just made certain services expected of a vicar impossible. “He can’t teach a class or give a homily.” But, Nelan added, “For most people who know Father Buu, it’s not so much about what he communicates verbally, but what he communicates emotionally.”

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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 8

Jan8 Toon Panda

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Mayor ‘focused’ on affordability how?

Re: “TA not scared off by $4.7B debt figure,” T&V, Jan. 8

To the Editor:

Here we go again! T&V states, “The mayor has so far not taken a position on the TA’s goal of a non-eviction condo conversion, though he’s focused on preserving affordability at the approximately 6,000 apartments in ST/PCV that are still in fact affordable.”

How can Town & Village or any other newspaper or media state this as fact when the evidence is to the contrary? What proof is T&V using to make this statement? Using basic 1+1=2 math any child should be able to understand that raising the rent every year is going to make once-affordable apartments UNaffordable. And this, unfortunately, is the truth. Like his Republican predecessors, our mayor has appointed all nine members of the current landlord-friendly Rent Guidelines Board which has just given tenants another annual rent increase by a vote of 5-4. And unless the mayor changes the composition of his personally-selected Rent Guidelines Board to one  favoring tenants instead of landlords, as it has for the past 24 years, we can look forward to more and more rent increases for as long as de Blasio is in office.

When I moved to Stuy Town I was using 20 percent of my salary to pay rent. Now, as a result of yearly rent increases, I’m paying 50 percent. So would someone explain to me how this supports the statement that the mayor is “focused on preserving affordability at the approximately 6,000 apartments in ST/PCV”?  I will not believe that de Blasio cares one bit about affordable housing in Stuy Town until he appoints five members to his board that will vote in favor of tenants. Anything less is just more political malarkey and newspapers should not assist in its dissemination.

John Cappelletti, ST

Editor’s note: John Cappelletti makes a fair point. The mayor’s talk about preserving affordability in Stuy Town is encouraging, but some action would be nice, too.

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Man beaten outside Whole Foods, drug arrest outside Stuy Town

Gothamist reported that a video was uploaded to LiveLeak on Monday that captured the beating of an unidentified man outside the Union Square location of Whole Foods. The video, which has since been removed, shows people who appear to be Whole Foods employees repeatedly punching and kicking the man who was attempting to get into the store after hours. The blog noted that the incident allegedly occurred on December 30. No arrests have been made but Whole Foods told Grub Street that the team members who have been identified so far have been placed on administrative leave.

Police arrested 52-year-old Kenneth Spulka for possession of a controlled substance in front of 527 East 14th Street last Friday at 5:20 p.m. Police said that Spulka was in possession of a pipe with alleged crack cocaine residue.

Police arrested 28-year-old Quincy Robinson for assault in front of the IHOP at 235 East 14th Street last Thursday at 6:34 a.m. Robinson allegedly hit another man on the head and cheek. Police said that the victim was bleeding from his head and had pain in his chest.

Police arrested 21-year-old Tredez Colbert for petit larceny in front of the Bounce Sporting Club at 55 West 21st Street last Thursday at 2:33 a.m. Colbert allegedly swiped a Galaxy cell phone from a coat that was lying on a chair. A witness said that Colbert attempted to throw the phone to the ground after security approached him. Colbert was also arrested for possession of stolen property.

Police arrested 45-year-old livery cab driver Dale Lama last Tuesday at 2:46 a.m. at the corner of East 22nd Street and Third Avenue. Lama was driving his livery cab when he was involved in accident. Police said that after checking his license, they found that it had been suspended.

Police arrested 21-year-old Israa Chegi for theft of services at the corner of Third Avenue and East 18th Street last Thursday at 5:07 a.m. The driver told police that Chegi and three men got into his cab at a downtown location. When they arrived at Third Avenue and East 18th, the men left without paying. Chegi allegedly refused to pay the fare. Police said that when she was arrested, Chegi said, “I want to act like a child.” She then fell to the ground, getting cuts on her knees in the process.

Fifty-year-old Seynabou Diaw was arrested for assault inside the 13th precinct last Friday at 6:55 p.m. Diaw allegedly punched the victim in the face, causing pain to her lips. Police said that the incident occurred in an elevator at Bellevue Hospital inside 462 First Avenue.

Larry Roman, 26, was arrested for petit larceny inside the TJ Maxx at 620 Sixth Avenue last Tuesday at 7:24 p.m. Roman allegedly took merchandise from the shelf, concealed it inside his coat and attempted to leave the store without paying. Roman was also charged with theft.

Twenty-year-old Andrew Titaley was arrested inside the 13th Precinct for petit larceny last Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Titaley is a former employee of American Apparel and he allegedly stole three pairs of shorts from his old place of employment. Police said that Titaley walked into the dressing room and took off the tags, which a store employee found, and Titaley allegedly left the store without paying.

Police arrested Eugene Smith, 31, inside the 13th precinct last Sunday at 2:15 p.m. for grand larceny. Smith allegedly took credit cards from the victim’s home and used it to make purchases without permission. Police said that Smith was also in possession of methamphetamine and ketamine. Smith was also charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of stolen property.

Police arrested 35-year-old Irene Peraza for endangering the welfare of a child last Wednesday at 8:22 p.m. inside 1186 Broadway. Peraza allegedly slapped her daughter, who is under 17, and also scratched her hand. The victim told police that the argument started when she tried to stop her mother from drinking because the daughter felt that her mother was drinking excessively. Peraza was also charged with assault.

Forty-five-year-old James Sanders was arrested for criminal mischief inside the 13th precinct last Monday at 8:15 p.m. Sanders allegedly damaged the front desk computer screen intentionally while inside Cafeteria at 119 Seventh Avenue.