Opinion: Check your eligibility for the Croman restitution fund

By State Senator Brad Hoylman

Notorious landlord Steve Croman first made the Village Voice’s Worst Landlords list in 1998. He made it again in 2003. And again in 2006.

The landlord equivalent of teflon, Croman terrorized tenants, dragging them into protracted court battles. Tenants lived in dangerous and intolerable conditions. Croman pled guilty to grand larceny and other felony charges in 2017. He was released from jail in 2018, only to buy a building this year on the other side of my district that is home to the historic White Horse Tavern.

Croman is just one of many bad actors who, eager to recoup on their substantial real estate investments, resorted to abusive and exploitative tactics to drive out rent-regulated tenants. They made millions. Many of them went unpunished.

Croman, for his part, was at least forced to pay $8 million in restitution funds—the largest ever monetary settlement with an individual landlord—to the thousands of rent regulated tenants he tormented and preyed upon to evict them from their homes and convert their units to market rate apartments.

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Lyft car and other vehicles crash on Second Avenue

June6 accident1

Vehicle collision at Second Avenue and 14th Street (Photos by Jefferson Siegel)

By Jefferson Siegel

Just after 7 pm Tuesday, the quiet early-evening atmosphere at 2nd Avenue and 14th Street was shattered by a loud metal-crunching explosion when three app-driven car service vehicles collided.

The crash was followed by screams as people rushed to find a Lyft driver trapped in his car and a cyclist on the curb. The driver appeared to be unconscious as he sat motionless, his body surrounded by front and side air bags. The driver-side door had been smashed by a mini-van which blocked anyone from reaching the driver. Firefighters arrived within minutes and tried smashing the passenger-side window to reach the driver. They were able to enter the car from the rear door and place a neck brace on the driver.

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East Village tours spotlight where movies and TV shows are filmed

One of the tour’s stops is St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, which appeared in “A Beautiful Mind” and “Two Week’s Notice.” (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

When Georgette Blau started leading tours based on locations in movies and television shows 20 years ago, the internet had some information floating around about filming locations, but it was often inaccurate. Now, blogs and Twitter accounts by the dozens share a constant stream of information about movie sets popping up in New York, but Blau, who organized her first tours using books on the topic, said that those hard sources are still more reliable.

“To this day, I’ve found that the books are more accurate,” she said. “There are so many books written about film locations.”

To celebrate the anniversary for the company, On Location Tours, Blau has organized a walking tour of the East Village to visit some of the many sites in the neighborhood that have been used in movies and TV shows throughout the years. The tour visits 35 locations from 50 different TV shows and movies, including a location in the new movie, “Late Night,” which isn’t out yet. The tour starts at the Puck Building on Lafayette and East Houston Street, heads north to East 11th Street and loops back down.

“Even if they haven’t seen the movie or show it’s in, it gets people excited when something was filmed here and then they look out for that show or movie to come out,” Blau said, noting that the company has also been working with studios and locations scouts to include behind-the-scenes info on the tours.

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Man fights off sexual assault in East Village apartment

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who tried to sexually assault another man in the victim’s apartment on East 13th Street and Avenue B.

The victim, a 37-year-old man, and the other man met at a bar on Monday at about 2:30 a.m. and the victim invited him home. Once there, the other man tried to sexually assault the victim, who managed to push off his attacker and kick him, and the man left the apartment.

At some point, the guest also stole the victim’s laptop, a tablet, around 25 computer hard drives, a jacket, a wallet, an ID and keys before fleeing on Avenue B.

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Teens harass elderly couple, assault man at McDonald’s across from Stuy Town

jan31 mcdonalds assault suspect1

First assault suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are on the lookout for three teenagers believed to be responsible for a brutal beatdown at the McDonald’s at 404 East 14th Street.

According to police, on Saturday, December 29 at 8 p.m., the three teens were harassing an elderly couple at the restaurant, located across the street from Stuyvesant Town. At some point, another customer, a 44-year-old man, tried to stop them and the group then turned on him instead, punching and kicking him in his face and on his body. The attackers then ran out, heading east.

jan31 mcdonalds assault suspect2

Second assault suspect

The victim, who had cuts on his face along with pain and bruises on his face and body; was taken to Beth Israel, and later released.

The first suspect is described as male, black, 14 to 17 years old, 5’7″ tall and 140 lbs. He last seen wearing a pink hooded sweater, black sweatpants and black and white sneakers.

The second suspect is described as female, black, 14 to 17 years old, 5’8″ and 135 lbs., with red or light brown hair. She was last seen wearing gray hooded sweater, a black jacket, red and yellow pants and gray and white sneakers.

jan31 mcdonalds assault suspect3

Third assault suspect

The third suspect is male, black, 14 to 17 years old, 5’5″, 170 lbs., and had eyeglasses. He was last seen wearing a red hooded sweater, a beige jacket and blue jeans.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Man robbed at gunpoint on East 13th Street

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a gunman who robbed a 28-year-old man in the East Village at around 5:45 a.m. on Thursday.

The victim was in front of 201 Second Avenue and East 13th Street when a man turned a gun on him and demanded his phone. The victim refused and kept walking and the mugger hit him several times on his head before fleeing emptyhanded. The victim was treated for multiple cuts at Bellevue Hospital.

The suspect is described as black and 20-30 years old and was last seen wearing a yellow/blue hooded jacket, black pants and gray sneakers.

 Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Cuomo calls on MTA to hold public vote on new L train plan

Sept20 L train work site closeup

Part of the L train construction site on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who a day earlier had made a bombshell announcement that the dreaded L-pocalypse could be avoided, further argued for his alternative plan, which would limit L service during repairs but not halt it.

Cuomo, during a phone conference with reporters, called on the MTA to hold a public board meeting on the proposal, made by a team of engineers from the universities of Columbia and Cornell, and make a quick decision for it or against it. However, the call may have been more about defending the governor’s change of heart mere months before the 15-month shutdown between Brooklyn and Manhattan was slated to begin, since the MTA had already stated that it accepted the engineers’ findings.

Asked about the governor’s request, a spokesperson for the MTA referred to its statement from Thursday, which said:

“The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today accepted the recommendations of a panel of engineering experts that determined a complete closure of the L Train Tunnel is unnecessary… Work could be completed on nights and weekends only, with a single tube providing continued service in both directions during work periods.

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L train neighbors slam MTA over noise, debris and mysterious goo

Dec13 L train Epstein

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein with L train construction zone neighbors and disability advocates in front of the MTA’s headquarters (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While most New Yorkers are approaching April with a sense of dread because of the start to the 15-month L-pocalypse, for those who live around the East 14th Street construction site, the nightmare has been going on already for quite some time.

Recently, local elected officials were able to secure some concessions from the MTA in response to neighbor concerns like additional lighting along the sidewalks where views of the street are obstructed by construction barriers, a commitment to install air quality monitors along the street and reopening of the sidewalk on the East Village side of the street, where stores have been cut off from foot traffic.

However, many concerns have remained, such as noisy work that goes on from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., as well as on weekends, clouds of debris that have caused some neighbors to fear for their respiratory health and equipment-packed streets that have led to an obstacle course for the disabled. Residents have also been left to wonder about the presence of an unidentified, glowing green substance in one of the many dumpsters that regularly get trucked in and out of the site.

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Shoplifter threatens Target employee with box cutter

Nov29 Target robbery suspect

Target robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who threatened a Target employee with a box cutter when he was caught shoplifting at the store at 500 East 14th Street.

On Friday, November 23 at about 2:45 p.m. the man strolled into the store and proceeded to take diapers, body wash, lotion and deodorant without paying, police said. When he was confronted by a store security worker, the man pulled out the box cutter, while warning the victim, “I will cut you.”

He then fled with the merchandise.

The suspect, who was seen on fuzzy surveillance video, is described as being about 5 ft 6 ins. tall. He is being sought for robbery.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) or visit nypdcrimestoppers.com. All calls are strictly confidential.

Singer Garland Jeffreys’ tips for aspiring musicians

Dec28 Garland Jeffreys

Stuyvesant Town rock singer Garland Jeffreys (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, October 22, Stuyvesant Town rock singer Garland Jeffreys will be performing a concert at a fundraiser for the 14th Street Y, where he, his wife Claire and daughter Savannah are longtime members.

It will be the first of a few local concerts coming up for the singer, following a recent tour through Europe to promote his last album, “14 Steps to Harlem.”
Now in the early writing stages for his next album, to be called, “Dash of Soul,” and fundraising for a documentary about his career, Jeffreys, 75, spoke with Town & Village to share tips for new and aspiring musicians.

“I’m always happy to talk to people who are starting out,” he said, adding that starting out means picking a musical direction to take.

“What kinds of songs do they want to write? Love songs, protest songs or a Dylan-esque area?” he asked. “They should work and work and work on the music and not take it for granted. I tell stories about different things, like race, like my childhood, my passions.”
In recent years, Jeffreys has been known to do many concerts in people’s homes, which he recommends doing as well as finding local venues like bars.

“If you’re starting out, anywhere is a good place to start,” said Jeffreys. “Just get your guitar and get your keyboard and get to practicing and that’s how your songwriting evolves.”

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Suspect arrested for robbery at Mona’s Bar and others

Oct11 Mona's

Mona’s Bar

By Sabina Mollot

Police have arrested a 29-year-old man in connection with four armed robberies, including a holdup at a bar near Stuyvesant Town.

Police said the suspect, Sanjay McBayne of Carroll Street in Brooklyn, was arrested on Saturday after police received a tip through the Crime Stoppers hotline.

Police said the most recent incident was on Thursday, October 4 at around 2 a.m., when McBayne strolled into Mona’s Bar and Grill at 224 Avenue B between East 13th and 14th Streets, and turned a gun on an employee, demanding cash. After getting away with $700, he allegedly fled towards 14th Street.

The other incidents were all in Brooklyn. From September 26 to October 3, McBayne allegedly hit three businesses, a Duane Reade, Kilo Bravo nightclub and a Metro PCS store. Police said in those three alleged robberies, he approached an employee and then threatened the victim with a gun, netting a total of $815.

McBayne has been charged with four counts of robbery.

Thief steals credit card from building on E. 13th St., then shops at Target

Oct11 Target theft suspect

Theft suspect at Target

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a thief who stole a Visa credit card from a building on East 13th Street and First Avenue and then spent $327, using the card at Target.

Police released the information this week although the incident occurred on Sunday, September 14 at 8 a.m. Police say the man got into the lobby of the building where the 31-year-old victim lives and took the credit card although it wasn’t clear how he got in or if he swiped the card from a mailbox or an open area where mail was lying around. He then headed to the Target store at East 14th Street and Avenue A.

The suspect is a light-skinned man who appears to be in his 20s and tall. He was last seen wearing a white baseball cap, a black tee-shirt with “thumbs up” written on the front and light gray jeans and white sneakers.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at Nypdcrimestopppers.com, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Cops say man tried to rape woman in East 13th Street building

Julio Mendez

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who allegedly tried to rape a woman in a residential building at 620 East 13th Street between Avenues B and C.

Police said the suspect, who has since been identified as Julio Mendez, 43, approached the victim, a 46-year-old woman on Saturday at 11:15 p.m. while she was in the building’s laundry room.

While police said it’s unknown what the man’s relationship was to the woman, he has been known to frequent the building, Tanya Towers, which offers low-income housing as well as being home to an organization that offers supportive housing and other services to people who are hard of hearing and have vision impairments.

Mendez, police said, started talking to the victim and convinced her to follow him outside. He then grabbed her by the arm and neck and the victim, in her struggle to get away from him, fell to the ground. Mendez allegedly then covered her mouth and tried to pull of her clothing. The victim continued to try to fight him off as he sexually assaulted her, police said, eventually running off when the victim screamed.

The woman was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where she has since treated and released.

Mendez is described as a male Hispanic, 5’6″, 160lbs, with an average build, medium complexion, short black hair and brown eyes. Police are unsure of where he lives.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 

Three people reported missing over the weekend

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding three people who were reported missing over the weekend.

Virginia Proto, 80, who lives in the East Village at 94 East 1st Street, was last seen on Saturday at 12:15 p.n. leaving a relative’s house at 308 Avenue U in Brooklyn. She is 5’5” tall, 130 pounds, with a light complexion, long red hair and brown eyes. She is believed to have an ID holder around her neck.

Paul Greenwald, 70, was last seen leaving Bellevue Hospital at 462 First Avenue on Saturday at 2 p.m. Greenwald, who is homeless, has blue eyes, gray hair, is approximately 6’0” tall, approximately 200 lbs. He was last wearing a red shirt, black pants, black sandals and white socks, with glasses on his forehead.

Nurys Herrand, 49, was last seen at her home at 617 East 9th Street, on Wednesday, August 8. She is white Hispanic, 5’03,” and 185 lbs. She was wearing a floral-print dress and black flipflops.

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Target’s East Village store drew controversy on its opening weekend

The new Target on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Popular chain store Target caused controversy at the opening of the new East Village store at the end of last month because of their homage to former dive bar and music club CBGB and ultimately apologized for the marketing stunt, the New York Times reported at the end of last week.

The new store opened on East 14th Street between Avenues A and B with grand opening festivities on the weekend of July 21 with a vinyl facade depicting tenements and old storefronts, including CBGB, with “TRGT” in the bar’s classic font on the temporary overhang.

Jeremiah Moss, whose blog Vanishing New York and book of the same name document gentrification in the city, called the display a “deplorable commodification of local neighborhood culture” and expressed disgust over the fake storefronts.

“The façade is draped in vinyl sheets printed with images of tenements, the same sort of buildings that get demolished to make room for such developments,” Moss wrote. “Here they sit, hollow movie-set shells, below the shiny windows of the high-end rentals. They are the dead risen from the grave, zombies enlisted to work for the corporation.”

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