New Mediterranean spot giving away free meals until 9 p.m.

The line at VERTS earlier this afternoon (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The line at VERTS earlier this afternoon (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

New East 23rd Street restaurant VERTS Mediterranean Grill debuted across from Madison Square Park by offering free entrees on their first day of business today.

Keith Peterson, the vice president of marketing for the company, said that the free meals on the day of a grand opening is a standard business practice for the company, which is based in Texas and recently opened its first East Coast location in Boston recently and the East 23rd Street spot is the restaurant’s first New York location. There are no restrictions on what entrees customers can order and the full menu is available to pick from. Entrees include pitas, salads, rice bowls and quinoa bowls with protein add-ins, vegetable toppings and a variety of sauces. Side orders and drinks are not included in the deal but Peterson noted that the profits from those sales today will be donated to charity.

The restaurant is open until 10 p.m. and plans to serve the free meals until an hour before closing. The line still stretched down the block by 3 p.m., crossing in front of the entrances for neighbors Chop’t and Gasoline Alley Coffee, but Peterson said that it was even longer earlier in the day before the wind started picking up, and there was even a line at 10:30 a.m., half an hour before the restaurant opened for the day. Customers were waiting between half an hour to an hour for their meals and Peterson predicted that the line would get longer again once office workers started leaving for the day.

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Thrift Shop Row is thriving

Customers continue to rely on rock-bottom prices

A selection of women’s clothes at the Salvation Army, one of the shops along East 23rd Street’s Thrift Shop Row (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

A selection of women’s clothes at the Salvation Army, one of the shops along East 23rd Street’s Thrift Shop Row (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

To some they’re places to dig for hidden treasures at a cheap price, while to others, unable to turn elsewhere for the things they need, they’re a lifeline. They’re also the foot soldiers of the nonprofit world, positioned at street level for anyone to breeze on in, and, depending on their needs that day, contribute by leaving the unwanted contents of their closets behind, or by spending a few bucks.

Local bargain hunters are especially fortunate, considering that a two-block stretch on East 23rd Street, between Second Avenue and Lexington, is home to half a dozen thrift shops. They are Cauz for Pawz, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Vintage Thrift, Housing Works and City Opera. At the beginning of the recession, in 2008, these shops were busier than ever, at the time reporting to Town & Village that they were doing well in sales as many more people came to rely on their rock bottom prices. However, they noted that donations had fallen, with many of those same people opting to hold onto the things they had.

Recently, T&V caught up with representatives from a few of the stores that make up Thrift Shop Row to ask how things were going these days, and everyone we spoke with said their organizations were faring well, thanks to a continued reliance on their low priced goods, but also generous people donating.

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Letters to the Editor, July 16

July16 Toon Iran gray

An accelerating problem on East 23rd Street

The following is an open letter to Council Member Dan Garodnick:

Dear Dan,

On the heels of a letter to you by a resident of Stuyvesant Town, Mr. Sanderson, which was published in the Town & Village, about unsafe conditions in the service lane, I would like to bring to your attention some very dangerous conditions a little bit north, on 23rd Street.

I have been a resident of Peter Cooper Village for many years. For a long time, 23rd Street was a quiet place. Not anymore. For the past few years, it has become a major access road to the FDR Drive. During the quieter times, before and after rush hours, 23rd Street from First Avenue down to the Drive, has a become a speedway for many cars and busses. If a device checking speed limits were to be set up, many vehicles would clock in at well over the 25 mile an hour speed limit, more like 40 to 50 miles per hour.

During rush hours when the traffic is bumper to bumper, horns blaring, many drivers have taken to the service lane as a way to avoid the backup of traffic. So, now, the service lane becomes the speedway. Many drivers go through the stop sign at First Avenue and 23rd Street, and the one at Asser Levy Place. At the end of the service lane is a sign and signal for a right turn only. Not for many of these drivers who care not what a sign says. There are many, many u-turns made all day, all evening.

If someone stops in the service lane, briefly, to wait for a parking spot, these speeders start honking, and sometimes screaming at the person who has every right to stop for a minute or two.

Another infraction is cars exiting the service lane at what is the entrance, and entering at the exit. It is a collision waiting to happen.

I was at the 13th Police Precinct’s community meeting last summer to discuss these issues. After listing all the above, the only comment was  “Oh yes, children go to school over there.”

I think they should have said we really need to keep the residents of the community safe, or people are always crossing to use the gym at Asser Levy Place, or anything in the way of grasping the seriousness of the reckless driving.

I am hoping that action will be taken here, so that we do not have a pedestrian hit by a vehicle, or a very serious accident on 23rd Street.

Sincerely,

J. Greene PCV

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Police Watch: Teens arrested for First Ave. robberies, Man busted for multiple ‘burglaries’

TEENS NABBED FOR TWO ROBBERIES ON FIRST AVENUE AND 23RD STREET
Police arrested three teens at the corner of First Avenue and East 23rd Street last Thursday at 2:50 a.m. for two different robberies.
One of the victims told police that he was walking south on First Avenue at the northeast corner of East 23rd Street when three unknown boys surrounded him and demanded his phone.
The victim said that one of the teens took a wooden stick and started to hit him on the face and body. While he was trying to run away, his phone fell out of his pocket and police later recovered the victim’s phone from the right pants pocket of one of the teens.
A second victim told police that she was waiting for the bus at the northeast corner of East 23rd Street and First Avenue when the three teens tried to snatch her phone from her hand. She said that she was texting when they walked up behind her, reached over her shoulder and tried to grab her phone. She told police that she started running away and as she was running, the teens threw large chunks of ice at her, which hurt her lower back.
The names of the teens are being withheld due to their age.

POT ‘DEALER’ BUSTED OUTSIDE STUY TOWN
Police arrested 28-year-old Elijah Johnson for the sale of marijuana in front of 515 East 14th Street last Friday at 4:59 p.m. Police said that Johnson sold a quantity of marijuana to an undercover officer. Johnson was also charged with possession of marijuana.

MEN ARRESTED FOR ‘PROSTITUTION’ AT SPA
Police arrested 36-year-old Ping Du and 26-year-old Yun Lu for prostitution inside Moon Boy Spa at 101 West 25th Street last Friday at 5:15 p.m. Police said that Du massaged an undercover officer and agreed to engage in sexual intercourse for $160. Lu massaged the same undercover officer and allegedly agreed to engage in anal sex in exchange for $160. Du and Lu could not produce valid massage licenses.

MAN BUSTED FOR ‘BURGLARIES’
Police arrested 67-year-old Ira Goldberg for burglary, grand larceny and petit larceny inside the 13th precinct last Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Police said that Goldberg entered the fifth floor of the Adorama camera store at 42 West 18th Street without permission and opened a locked door with a credit card. He also allegedly went to the sales floor of the location and removed camera equipment valued over $15,000. He was charged with two counts of burglary in the 13th Precinct this year, one count of grand larceny in Midtown South last year, one count of grand larceny and two counts of petit larceny in the 13th precinct last year and one count of grand larceny and petit larceny in the Midtown North precinct this year.

‘AGGRESSIVE’ MAN ARRESTED AT BELLEVUE
Police arrested 28-year-old Christopher Marcano inside Bellevue at 462 First Avenue last Thursday at 2:20 a.m. Marcano was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Police said that Marcano was acting loud and aggressive inside an ER patient holding area, causing alarm and a hazardous environment to other patients. Marcano also allegedly pulled his arms away as officers attempted to put him in handcuffs, causing a struggle.

SEX OFFENDER ARRESTED FOR ‘FRAUD’
Police arrested 44-year-old Jamel Lee for an unclassified felony and fraud inside 444 Second Avenue last Friday at 12:20 p.m. Lee is a registered New York State level 2 sex offender after having been convicted of attempted rape in the first degree on September 3, 1991. Lee allegedly gave a written statement containing false information and intending to defraud the state as to his true residence or living status.
He allegedly failed to notify New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services of an address change within 10 calendar days by September 11, 2012 as required by New York State corrections law.
Police said that he also failed to return the signed annual verification forms to New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services after they were mailed to his last registered address in 2013 and 2014 as required by corrections law and he allegedly failed to appear at his local law enforcement agency to provide a photo within 20 days after his annual registration date, by July 18, 2014, as required every three years by NYC corrections law.

‘TRESPASSERS’ BUSTED ON EAST 28TH
Police arrested 31-year-old Tiffany King and 38-year-old Antonne Frazier for criminal trespassing inside 224 East 28th Street last Wednesday at 10:50 p.m. King and Frazier allegedly entered and remained unlawfully on the roof landing at the building even though signs in the stairwell state that there is no access to the roof and roof landing except for authorized personnel.

VENDORS ARRESTED FOR I LOVE NY MERCH
Police arrested 57-year-old vendor Young Yang for forgery in front of 37 West 28th Street last Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. Police said that Yang was displaying 36 bracelets with a trademark counterfeit logo for I Love NY.
Police arrested 43-year-old Prakash Dasani for forgery in front of 1201 Broadway last Friday at 2:25 p.m. Dasani was allegedly displaying 107 pieces of costume jewelry which bore a trademark counterfeit logo for I Love NY.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR CHILD ENDANGERMENT
Police arrested 27-year-old Iasia Purcell for endangering the welfare of a child inside 4 East 28th Street last Tuesday at 12:33 p.m. Purcell allegedly left her daughter and son alone and unsupervised for almost two hours.

MAN NABBED FOR ‘POT’
Police arrested 22-year-old Abdoully Kane for possession of marijuana last Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the corner of Broadway and West 29th Street. Police said that Kane had a small plastic bag of marijuana in his right hand. He was brought back to the stationhouse and issued a summons.

‘POT DEALERS’ ARRESTED ON BROADWAY
Police arrested two men for the sale of marijuana and possession of marijuana on the corner of Broadway and West 28th Street last Tuesday at 5:50 p.m. Alexander Henson, 27, and Stephon Pierre, also 27, allegedly sold a quantity of marijuana to an undercover officer. Police said that Henson was also in possession of a controlled substance and that Pierre was in possession of additional marijuana.

ATM ‘TRESPASSERS’ ARRESTED
Two men were arrested for criminal trespassing inside ATM vestibules this past week.
Cleon Vondothard, 46, was arrested inside 225 Fifth Avenue last Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Vondothard was allegedly inside the Chase ATM vestibule and was not conducting any bank business and did not have permission to be inside the location.
Police arrested 55-year-old Christopher Schafer for criminal trespassing inside the Bank of America at 399 Third Avenue last Friday at 6:31 a.m. Police said that Schafer did not have permission to be inside the location and a sign at the facility says that it may only be used to conduct banking business.

SUBWAY ‘SPREADER’ ARRESTED
Police arrested 47-year-old Kevin McNicholas at the Union Square subway station last Friday at 3:30 a.m. for an unclassified violation of New York State laws. McNicholas was allegedly completely outstretched on a downtown 4 train, occupying multiple seats and with his feet up.

PUBLIC ‘URINATOR’ NABBED ON WEST 24TH
Police arrested 48-year-old Wendell Foston for an unclassified violation of New York State laws in front of 100 West 24th Street last Saturday at 1:33 a.m. Foston was allegedly urinating on a public sidewalk in public view.

Police watch: Highway ‘robber’ busted, masseuse arrested for ‘prostitution’

FAKE ‘MOVER’ BUSTED IN STUY TOWN
Twenty-year-old Volodya Karapetyan was arrested for petit larceny last Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. in front of 447 East 14th Street. Karapetyan and another person had a contract to conduct a move with the victim. He allegedly demanded a $500 security deposit and once the victim handed over the cash, Karapetyan fled the scene without doing any work, police said.

STUY TOWN ‘TRESPASSER’ ARRESTED
Police arrested a teen for criminal trespassing in front of 240 First Avenue last Tuesday at 1:35 p.m. The teen was casing residential buildings along East 14th Street and attempted to go inside one of them at 333 East 14th Street. He then walked around the block to the back of the building, where he was able to gain entry when a tenant was exiting and he went to the third floor of the building. After leaving, he went to 329 East 14th Street. He attempted to gain entry there before going to 240 First Avenue where he was seen pulling on the door to get in. The teen’s name is being withheld due to his age.

WOMAN ARRESTED IN HIGHWAY ‘ROBBERY’
Police arrested 26-year-old Fatima Bensabeur for robbery at the corner of the FDR and East 23rd Street last Sunday at 4:27 a.m. Bensabeur allegedly punched the victim in the face, causing a cut near his left eye. She then reached into his car and tried to remove cash that he had on the center console, police said. Bensabeur was also charged with assault.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR FAKE REPORT
Police arrested 24-year-old Betty Abney last Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. inside the 13th precinct for filing a false report. Police said that Abney had claimed that she was robbed but after an officer questioned her, she admitted that the robbery hadn’t happened.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SELLING FLOWERS
Sixty-year-old Victor Clarke was arrested for violating unclassified New York State laws in front of 132 West 28th Street last Friday at 4:10 p.m. Clarke was allegedly offering and displaying more than ten flowers for sale without a valid general vendor department of consumer affairs license.

BELLIGERENT DINER ARRESTED ON WEST 23RD
Police arrested 26-year-old Jamar Powell for criminal mischief last Monday at 4:36 a.m. in front of the Malibu Diner at 163 West 23rd Street. Powell had walked into the diner with a friend and ordered food. After eating, Powell’s friend asked to have separate checks, which led to an argument between them. Powell then allegedly broke the glass partition that separates the tables.

MAN FOUND SLEEPING INSIDE BANK
Sixty-year-old Charles Jackson was arrested for criminal trespassing last Tuesday at 1:16 a.m. inside the Bank of America ATM at 800 Sixth Avenue. Jackson was allegedly sleeping inside the ATM area of the bank despite the signs posted that warn people to nap elsewhere. The signs read, “no panhandling, no loitering, no sleeping. Any person who enters or remains in this facility who is not conducting banking business is trespassing and is subject to arrest and prosecution.”

MAN BUSTED FOR ‘FENCING’ FAKE PHONES
Police arrested 55-year-old Reginald Moten for fraudulent accosting last Tuesday at 12:04 a.m. at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 27th Street. Moten was allegedly soliciting and attempting to sell new Samsung Galaxy phones to passing pedestrians for $200 each. The phones were found to be counterfeit and Moten was attempting to defraud passersby, police said.

APARTMENT ‘BURGLAR’ BUSTED
Police arrested 53-year-old Benjamin Guadalupe for burglary inside the 13th precinct last Tuesday at 4:35 p.m. Guadalupe allegedly entered three apartments inside 244 East 21st Street on September 17 through a rear window. The bedrooms were found in disarray and some of the victims’ jewelry was missing, police said.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT ON SIXTH
Twenty-found-year-old Johnell Muhammad was arrested for assault in front of 650 Sixth Avenue last Wednesday at 2:57 p.m. Muhammad allegedly hit the victim in the face with a metal pole causing serious physical injury. Muhammad was identified by the victim and a witness, police said.

WOMAN NABBED FOR FAKE BROADWAY TIX
Police arrested 30-year-old Norah Alanazi for forgery at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street last Wednesday at 8:55 p.m. Alanazi allegedly offered to sell two tickets to a Broadway show and the tickets were found to be fraudulent.

MASSEUSE ARRESTED FOR ‘PROSTITUTION’
Police arrested 32-year-old Xiao Tan for prostitution inside Moon Boy Spa at 101 West 25th Street last Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Tan allegedly agreed to have sex with an undercover officer for $80.

MAN BEATEN WITH STICK ON WEST 28TH
Police arrested 52-year-old Milton Saunders for assault in front of 106 West 28th Street last Thursday at 7:46 p.m. The victim told police that he and Saunders got into an argument. Saunders allegedly got out of his car with a wooden stick and hit the victim, causing substantial pain to his left ankle and causing him to walk with a limp.

MAN ‘STEALS’ PHONE FROM CAR
Police arrested 44-year-old Hubert Cary for possession of drug paraphernalia at the corner of East 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue last Friday at 1:16 a.m. The victim said that he was standing outside his car with the window rolled down while his cell phone was charging in the center console when Cary allegedly reached into the car and grabbed the phone. A witness saw Cary stick the phone into an envelope that he tucked under his armpit before fleeing east on 25th Street, then south on Fifth Avenue. The witness was able to stop him and the phone was recovered on the scene, police said. Cary was also charged with petit larceny and possession of stolen property.

Police Watch: Teen purse snatcher arrested on 5th Ave., Three arrested in assault on E. 23rd

TEEN PURSE-SNATCHER ARRESTED

Police arrested a teenager for robbery in front of 260 Fifth Avenue last Wednesday at 11:32 p.m. Witnesses told police that the teen, along with another person who wasn’t arrested, snatched a woman’s purse. The teen used force to do so, pulling the victim’s hair and dragging her to the ground. The suspect was captured on the scene by a witness and was eventually placed under arrest when police arrived. The victim suffered an injury to her right elbow.

THREE ARRESTED IN ASSAULT

Police arrested three people in connection with an assault at 332 East 23rd Street last Friday at 1:30 a.m. Thirty-seven-year-old Alliesha Joseph-Morgan was arrested for assault and 37-year-old Teddy Wooten and 25-year-old James Barnes were busted for resisting arrest and for assault. Joseph-Morgan, Wooten and Barnes got into a fight with a woman outside a nearby club and allegedly punched the woman in the head and face, causing cuts and contusions. While attempting to arrest Barnes and Wooten, they refused to stop for the officers after being told to do so and refused to be placed in handcuffs. The two men allegedly pushed back, which police said necessitated the use of pepper spray to subdue them, and they refused medical treatment for pepper spray.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT AT BETH ISRAEL

Police arrested 48-year-old Ricky Young for assault last Tuesday at 12:46 a.m. in front of Beth Israel’s 9 Perlman Place building. The victim told police that he got into an argument with Young, another patient at the hospital, and when security attempted to escort him out of the building, Young allegedly threw a garbage can and resisted their attempts to make him leave. While security was attempting to remove him, Young allegedly punched the victim in the eye, causing swelling.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT BY CRUTCH

Police arrested 50-year-old Joseph Oliver for assault last Thursday at 5:59 p.m. inside 127 West 25th Street. The victim told police that Oliver allegedly assaulted him with crutches, cutting him on the left side of his upper torso. The victim said that he didn’t know Oliver and they didn’t have any kind of argument that would have escalated the incident. The victim does not speak English and is only fluent in Spanish and an officer at the scene translated the information.

WOULD-BE TEEN ‘BURGLAR’ BUSTED ON SECOND AVE.

Police arrested a teen for possession of burglar’s tools in front of 444 Second Avenue last Wednesday at 8:06 a.m. Officers saw the teen being chased by two people who were yelling that the teen had stolen one of their phones. They headed north on Third Avenue, then East on East 24th Street. Police then saw the teen going north on Second Avenue on a bike toward East 25th Street. He kept going the wrong way on Second Avenue and police stopped him at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and East 25th Street. He was in possession of a metal bolt cutter and a Samsung G4 cell phone. Police were unable to verify if the cell phone was stolen.

GREENCARD ‘SCAMMER’ BUSTED

Fifty-seven-year-old Jenetta Ferguson was arrested for grand larceny last Wednesday in front of 100 West 23rd Street. A man told police that he had given $8,500 to Ferguson on the promise that she would acquire a greencard for him. Ferguson is the victim’s ESL instructor and she allegedly has been given the money over the span of three months and has asked for more “to continue the visa process,” police said. Ferguson has received no legitimate documentation from INS or any agency to show that the money had been used for its promised purpose. The victim pointed her out on the street and she was arrested. She allegedly stated, “People, people, you think you are trying to help but they think it’s extortion.”

PHONE STOLEN FROM DOCTOR’S OFFICE

Police arrested 55-year-old Osvaldo Vasquez for petit larceny last Wednesday at 3:19 p.m. inside a doctor’s office at 16 East 16th Street. The victim told police that Vasquez is a patient at his office on the second floor. Vasquez was inside the office when the victim stepped out to use the restroom and when he returned, his cell phone was missing from the desk. After he called the police, officers demanded that Vasquez was to return the cell phone if he had it. Vasquez then allegedly reached into his groin area and pulled out an iPhone.

MAN ARRESTED FOR CITI BIKE ‘THEFT’

Twenty-year-old Christian Gonzalez was arrested for possession of stolen property last Friday at 7:21 p.m. on the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 15th Street. Gonzalez was allegedly in possession of a stolen Citi Bike. After searching him, police found that he was also allegedly in possession of a stolen Citi Bike keycard that belonged to someone else. A representative from Citi Bike verified that the bike was last docked on June 5 at 5:52 p.m. in the 5th precinct. Gonzalez does not belong to the Citi Bike program, police said.

‘JETPACK’ SWIPED FROM CONSTRUCTION SITE

Police arrested 32-year-old Jonattan Martinez, petit larceny last Monday at 1:15 p.m. inside the 13th Precinct at 230 East 21st Street. Martinez allegedly took a Verizon JetPack HotSpot from a cabinet without permission to do so from inside the construction site at 444 Second Avenue.

TRESPASSER ARRESTED ON WEST 27TH

Police arrested 52-year-old Michael Mack for burglar’s tools and criminal trespassing last Thursday at 8:23 p.m. in front of 34 West 27th Street. Mack allegedly entered the freight entrance of the building without permission by slipping metal scissors into the lock and forcing the door open. When Mack was stopped, he was also in possession of metal pliers and a metal pick believed to be burglar’s tools, police said.

MAN ARRESTED FOR BAR THEFT

Police arrested 54-year-old Fabian Peralta for petit larceny last Thursday at 11:12 p.m. at 299 First Avenue. Peralta allegedly swiped a guitar and camera from a nearby bar.

MAN NABBED FOR THREATS WITH BOX-CUTTER

Twenty-year-old Matthew Forty was arrested for menacing in front of 111 East 18th Street last Friday at 1 a.m. Forty allegedly displayed a yellow box-cutter knife while stating, “I’ll cut all of you,” the victim told police.

‘MENACE’ ARRESTED ON EAST 28TH

Police arrested 51-year-old Bruce Manning for assault and menacing in front of 14 East 28th Street last Saturday at 1:58 a.m. Manning allegedly hit the victim in the back of the head with an unknown object after he got in the middle of a fight between Manning and another tenant in the building. Manning also allegedly threatened the victim with a knife.

MAN BUSTED FOR STOLEN ACCOUNT INFO

Police arrested 37-year-old Jon Reich for stolen property last Saturday at 5:27 p.m. on the corner of Park Avenue South and East 25th Street. Reich was seen driving a motorcycle without a license plate and when police stopped him, he did not have a driver’s license or registration. He was also allegedly in possession of a credit card that didn’t belong to him, as well as a bank account with a routing number and a credit account number with an expiration date that did not belong to him.

ATM ‘THIEF’ NABBED ON SEVENTH AVE.

Police arrested 35-year-old Curtis Lawson for grand larceny last Wednesday at 1:13 a.m. in front of 307 Seventh Avenue. An investigator for the NCR Corporation was investigating money missing from ATMs that Lawson was servicing. The investigator had Lawson’s manager call him in to question him about possible involvement and he allegedly admitted to taking money from an ATM that he serviced on Lafayette Street. Lawson had $1,126 in cash in his wallet and two screwdrivers in his possession, police said.