Cops arrest man believed to be behind string of cab robberies

Police said Bryant White robbed seven cab drivers this summer.

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, police arrested a homeless man, Bryant White, 50, and charged him with robbing multiple cab drivers in Flatiron, Greenwich Village and midtown.

Police found him at East 15th Street and Union Square East where an officer stopped him for a bike infraction. The cop then saw that Grant fit the description of the robber who’s been terrorizing cab drivers by riding his bike up to their doors and stealing cash through the window right out of their shirt pockets. In one incident, the robber also punched a victim.

In all seven known robberies, which took place from June 28 to July 31, a total of $710 was stolen.

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Cops looking for man who’s been robbing cabbies in Manhattan

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a man who’s spent his summer robbing cab drivers in Flatiron, Greenwich Village and midtown Manhattan.

The man apparently rides up to the taxis on his bike and snatches cash from the drivers’ shirt pockets after reaching through their windows. In one recent incident, the mugger also punched a 46-year-old cabbie before snatching $200 from him. This was on Thursday, July 27 at Waverly Place and Christopher Street, where police found a stolen bike he left behind.

A few days later, on Monday, July 31 at 6:30 p.m., police said the man swiped $70 from a 66-year-old cabbie at East 21st Street and Park Avenue South. He then fled on his bike.

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Garodnick: Commercial Rent Tax bill would hardly cost city anything

Council Member Dan Garodnick, pictured with Borough President Gale Brewer and local business owners outside Whisk in Flatiron (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A day after Mayor de Blasio released his executive budget, a handful of local elected officials took the opportunity to push for legislation that would eliminate the Commercial Rent Tax for about 3,400 small business owners in Manhattan.

The bill, which is sponsored by Council Members Dan Garodnick and Helen Rosenthal, was first announced in 2015, and at this point has 35 co-sponsors in the Council.

If passed it would raise the threshold of rent retailers who must pay the tax from those paying $250,000 a year to $500,000 year. The tax, which was first implemented in 1963, only applies to Manhattan businesses between Chambers Street and 96th Street. Garodnick has said raising the rent threshold would help 40 percent of the businesses owners now paying the tax while only costing the city six percent of the revenue the tax brings in, about $4.5 million.

Natasha Amott, the owner of Whisk, a kitchen related goods shop in Flatiron, where the announcement on the bill was made last Thursday, said her CRT costs her $15,000 a year. This is on top of the $315,000 she pays in rent each year and another standard corporate tax.

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Police Watch: Bus driver accused of slapping special needs child, Slashing at Boxers

BUS DRIVER ACCUSED OF SLAPPING SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD OUTSIDE WATERSIDE
Police arrested 55-year-old Lucien Magliore for assault and endangering the welfare of a child in front of 10 Waterside Plaza last Tuesday at 9:08 a.m. Police said that Magliore, a bus driver, caused physical injury to one of the students who was on his bus while attempting to restrain him. Police said that the victim was a 10-year-old special needs child who was acting out on the bus. According to the District Attorney’s office, Magliore slapped the victim on the back, causing substantial pain, redness and a handprint on the child’s upper back.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SLASHING AT BOXERS
Police arrested 25-year-old Tevin Gingles for slashing two people inside Boxers NYC, a gay sports bar, at 37 West 20th Street.
One of the victims told police that on March 26 at 2 a.m. he was trying to breaking up a fight at the bar that involved his friend. That’s when Gingles allegedly slashed him in the shoulder with a box cutter, causing a puncture wound.
Gingles also allegedly slashed another victim on the right hand, causing a deep cut.
Following the incident, the first victim got into a cab and went to Harlem Hospital, where he received 16 stitches. The second victim received five stitches for the cut on his hand.
Gingles was arrested inside the 13th Precinct last Wednesday at 9 p.m. and was charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

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Man gropes woman inside East 24th Street building

Mar30 groperCops are on the lookout for a man who followed a woman into her building on East 24th Street and Lexington Avenue and groped her before taking off.

According to police on Monday, March 20 at around 6 a.m., the suspect followed the woman into the building and into the elevator. Once inside he grabbed her breasts over and under her shirt. The victim managed to push him off though, and he ran out of the building, heading east on 24th Street.

The victim, 54, wasn’t injured.

The suspect is described as black, 45 to 50 years old and 5’6″ to 5’7″ tall. He last seen wearing a green hat, a green jacket, black and white sweatpants and black 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 Crime stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Police arrest subway groping suspect

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Groping suspect, identified as David Cruz

By Sabina Mollot

A homeless man was arrested Wednesday night for allegedly groping two women on the subway in Flatiron.

The man, identified as 33-year-old David Cruz, wore a Santa hat and rose colored glasses during the incidents, which both took place around the same time.

Cops say Cruz has a lengthy rap sheet with 17 arrests, running from minor crimes like turnstile hopping and petty larceny to more serious ones like assault, burglary, sale of marijuana and tampering with evidence.

On the evening of February 8, police said Cruz grabbed a 32-year-old woman’s butt as she waited on the platform at the 23rd Street R/W station. Then he allegedly hung around before doing the same thing to a 34-year-old woman on his way up the stairs to the street. The victims reported the incidents separately at later times.

Cruz has been charged with two counts of forcible touching.

Flatiron gets in the holiday spirit with SantaCon

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SantaCon participants got creative with their costumes as usual, including a group with real pine trees in their backpacks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Revelers donned their best Santa, elf and reindeer costumes for the annual SantaCon pub crawl last weekend, which started in the shadow of the Flatiron building this year. Neighborhood residents let their opposition be known when the Santas gathered on the plaza at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and while the NYPD said there was no record of an arrest, NBC News noted that a handful of the protesters were escorted out of the plaza by police.

The NYPD also noted that no drunk or fighting Santas were arrested as in previous years, and while many in the community were not convinced of their noble intentions, organizers seem to be attempting to clean up the event’s reputation. Organizers on the plaza this past Saturday could be seen picking up bits of trash while the crowd started clearing out by late morning and one Santa berated a photographer climbing onto a planter, yelling at her not to be disrespectful of public property.

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Divine signs of the times

Church uses humor to connect with community

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Gustavus Adolphus Pastor Christopher Mietlowski started the sign campaign seven years ago and has since seen an increase in church membership. (Photo collage by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

It’s not unusual for signs in front of churches to have uplifting messages. Often they’re lifted from biblical passages. Other times they’re behavioral suggestions, and if there’s room, there’ll be a bingo schedule included, too.

But in Gramercy, one church has managed to stand out from the parish pack for the messages on its signs, which have become so popular, they’ve actually boosted membership.

That church would be Gustavus Adolphus, a 150-year-old Lutheran church where a recent sign suggested: “Come, search for Pokemon — stay, find God’s grace.”

Another, inspired by pop song “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor, read: “We’re all about dat grace, bout dat grace, no Devil!”

And another reminded passersby: “That love thy neighbor thing — I meant that — God.”

Last winter, during particularly frigid temperatures, a sign pointed out, “On the bright side, we haven’t seen a mosquito in months.”

The signs, which get changed around twice a month, are the brainchild of the church’s pastor, Christopher Mietlowski, better known to his flock as Pastor Chris.

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On 50th anniversary, FDNY remembers the 23rd Street fire

 

By Sabina Mollot

Fifty years ago on Monday, October 17, twelve firefighters lost their lives battling a blaze in Flatiron, making the date the deadliest the department would ever know until 9/11.

The fire, which was hidden at first due to illegal building alterations, had prevented firefighters from knowing just what a dangerous situation they were in for.

On Monday, dozens of fire officials and rank and file, along with family members of the fallen firemen, gathered at the Flatiron Plaza for a remembrance ceremony and then a wreath laying at the site of the fire at the corner of 23rd Street and Broadway. Today, it’s home to a high-rise residential building with a plaque alongside it memorializing the deceased firemen.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro spoke at the ceremony about how the 1966 fire is still a big part of training for firefighters today.

“Every probationary firefighter learns about this in the academy; 23rd Street has been the subject of countless drills,” the commissioner said. “This was the department’s darkest tragedy… and remained so until 9/11.”

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Police Watch: Man arrested for Lillian Wald Houses murder, Man busted for bank break-ins

MAN ARRESTED FOR GREAT-GRANDMOTHER’S MURDER
Police arrested 23-year-old Gary Biaz for the murder of 82-year-old Ella-Mae Biaz inside 711 FDR Drive at the Lillian Wald Houses last Friday. Police responded to a 911 call about two women assaulted around 5:35 p.m. and found the senior, who the New York Post reported was Biaz’s great-grandmother, with her wrists and ankles bound with tape.
A 39-year-old woman had also been tied up in the apartment and had managed to free herself and alert the police. The 82-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene and the second victim was brought to Bellevue Hospital for her injuries.
Biaz reportedly stole cash from his great-grandmother and drove off in a car belonging to the younger victim, the Post said. He was arrested later that night after being caught near Bedford Avenue and South Second Street in Williamsburg.
Biaz was charged with murder and attempted murder.

MAN ARRESTED FOR FLATIRON BANK BREAK-INS
Police arrested 39-year-old Daniel Bertini for Flatiron bank burglaries that took place early Monday morning. The New York Daily News reported that Bertini was caught with $915 in stolen coins at 5:35 a.m. inside the Chase Bank at Sixth Avenue and West 18th Street. Police said that Bertini got cuts on his head when he resisted arrest and an officer hit him with a collapsible baton. He later told officers that he has a cocaine habit and had taken money from his mother. He allegedly burglarized that Chase branch, in addition to two other banks, to pay back his mother before she noticed that the money was missing. The Daily News reported that Bertini worked with a crowbar and a change of clothes and tried unsuccessfully to break into a Key Bank on East 22nd at 4:25 a.m. He allegedly managed to break into a Bank of America on Park Avenue South around 4:51 a.m. but didn’t take any money. Police said that Bertini, who lives with his mother in Chelsea, is also a suspect in eight bank jobs in Brooklyn, in addition to four thefts from a Manhattan bar and from a bodega.

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T&V’s search for the best burgers: The Tribeca Burger at New York Burger Co.

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By Sabina Mollot

Town & Village will present a series of reviews of burgers available at local restaurants. While there’s certainly no shortage of places that serve this American staple, the question is simply where to get the most bang for your (typically) eight to sixteen bucks.

For our first installment, we headed to the Flatiron location of New York Burger Co. (There’s another spot at 470 West 23rd Street in Chelsea.) The place has a menu with 12 specialty burgers and we quickly honed in on the Tribeca — an angus beef patty with bacon, avocado and bleu cheese. We asked for ours medium rare and are pleased to say they got it just right. Their burgers are not that big, but unless you’re really hungry you won’t even need fries (which are extra) due to all the filling accompaniments. This burger is one of the priciest on the menu at $10.50. Prices start at $7.50 for plain burgers.

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Homeless hogging Gramercy wi-fi kiosks, say business owners

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

When the new wi-fi towers on Third Avenue arrived at the beginning of this year to replace defunct payphones in the neighborhood, Orbit News manager Ali Siddiqui thought it would be helpful for the occasional tourist that came into his shop looking for a map. But he said that it didn’t take long for the spots to get taken over day and night by various homeless people.

When a reporter was in the neighborhood last Friday, there was a man with his own rolling desk chair hooked up to the kiosk in front of the newsstand on the east side of the Avenue near East 20th Street and Siddiqui said that he had been in the same spot for three straight days.

“He brought his own chair and he just stays there, sitting and eating,” Siddiqui said.

He added that there are occasionally multiple people at the kiosk at once, usually streaming content through YouTube, and the men occasionally get aggressive when the sidewalk gets more crowded.

“Tourists want to use it but no one can because the same people are always there,” he said. “Customers complain about this to me all the time. This is a good neighborhood but since this started, it’s a nuisance.”

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Editorial: Time to rein in sales people and promo events in Flatiron

At Times Square, grabby costumed characters are finally being kept under control to some degree thanks to the addition of commercial activity zones where Elmo and Minnie can still hassle tourists for tips as well as new pedestrian flow zones where they cannot go and passersby are to be left alone.

However, Times Square is hardly the only neighborhood that’s been overrun by mercenary individuals. These days, Flatiron also comes pretty close, at least at the pedestrian plazas. If the weather’s nice, you can pretty much guarantee that any attempt to head over to Madison Square Park or one of the umbrella-shaded seats on the plaza will be impeded by people asking you about your hair, whether you like comedy or if you’d like to try a sample of something from a booth. Or all of the above. If it’s at least the latter case, this is because the city’s rented out part of the plaza to a company for promotional purposes. In the other cases, it’s because sales people love to stand in high-traffic areas so they can accost people on their lunch breaks.

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Police Watch: Man arrested for trespassing in Stuy Town, Man busted for sex abuse in Union Square

MAN BUSTED FOR TRESPASSING IN STUY TOWN APARTMENT
Police arrested 24-year-old Bernadino Romero for trespassing inside 651 East 14th Street last Tuesday at 1 a.m. The victim told police that he went outside with his wife to walk his dog and returned to find Romero allegedly leaving his apartment. Police said that the victim held Romero there for public safety officers.
The District Attorney’s office said that Romero accepted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal with one day of community service on the day of his arraignment last Tuesday.
A spokesperson for StuyTown Property Services said that this was an isolated incident.
“We are pleased with the quick response by public safety and the NYPD whose strong partnership helps ensure the safety of our residents,” the representative said.

MAN BUSTED FOR SEX ABUSE NEAR UNION SQUARE WENDY’S
Police arrested 39-year-old David Coleman for sexual abuse in front of 1 Union Square West after he allegedly smacked a woman’s buttocks.
It was Friday at around 9 p.m. when the victim said she was standing on the corner and felt someone hit her hard on the buttocks, causing her pain and alarm. She then saw Coleman walk past her with no one else in the immediate area. Multiple witnesses said that they saw him do it before he strolled into Wendy’s at 20 East 14th Street. Police soon positively identified the man at the restaurant, but when they ordered him to put his hands behind his back, he allegedly tensed his body and refused to be handcuffed.
Police noted that the suspect spontaneously said, “Yeah, I bumped her yo.” Coleman was also charged with resisting arrest.

MAN ‘PULLED KNIFE, MADE THREATS’ AT SECOND AND EAST 14TH
Police arrested 49-year-old Angel Ortiz at the corner of Second Avenue and East 14th Street last Tuesday at 10:50 p.m. after allegedly threatening people on the sidewalk. Police said that Ortiz was walking east on East 14th Street while wielding a knife and he allegedly refused orders from police to drop the knife while he was walking towards pedestrians.
Ortiz was charged with resisting arrest, menacing, reckless endangerment, weapons possession, harassment and disorderly conduct. Police said that Ortiz also entered a nearby store and stole property. He was charged with petit larceny and possession of stolen property in connection with that incident.

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CB5 divided over landmarking of Flatiron buildings

One of the buildings up for landmarking debate, 16 West 18th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

One of the buildings up for landmarking debate, 16 West 18th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A developer’s plan to demolish two buildings near Union Square and replace them with towers was recently shot down by Community Board 5. However, the board’s landmarks committee was split on whether or not the two buildings are historically significant enough to be protected under preservation laws. The committee discussed the plan at a meeting on May 31 to a packed room of community members and business owners who wanted to learn more about the proposal to demolish the two small buildings at 16 West 18th Street and 21 West 17th Street and replace them with apartment towers.

Real estate developer C.A. White has plans to tear down the two buildings and build 11- and 13-story buildings in their place. In comparison to the current buildings, the proposed apartment towers are much taller but the project’s architect Morris Adjmi said at the meeting that the firm didn’t max out the space allowed, keeping the proposed buildings level with those around them. The community board’s role in the process is only advisory and the Landmarks Preservation Commission will make the final decision on whether or not the buildings can be demolished.

Residents and committee members who opposed the demolition pointed to the overall character of the neighborhood as one of the main reasons to preserve the building, especially related to the “saw tooth” nature of the structures, because the current buildings are shorter than those around them and the developer’s proposal would mean leveling the buildings out.

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