Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association celebrating 50th anniversary

Stuyvesant Square Park these days is sitting pretty, in no small part due to the work of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

When the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association was formed half a century ago, it began as many civic organizations do — as a response to a perceived threat to the community that the residents were willing to fight. In this case, the interloper was Beth Israel, which was expanding its footprint at the time, buying up brownstones in the Stuyvesant Square neighborhood to raze and turn into larger buildings.

Rosalee Isaly, the president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, who’s been involved in the group’s efforts since 1970, said neighbors were concerned about the expansion impacting their quality of life, especially when the hospital received a federal grant to turn an empty lot at the corner of Second Avenue and 17th Street to build a 40-story building to house its staff. The group, initially just three couples (including husbands who worked as attorneys), fought this tooth and nail.

Eventually that street corner became home to the significantly smaller Hospital for Joint Diseases, and Beth Israel built the 24-story Gilman Hall on First Avenue across from Stuyvesant Town to house its residents. (Gilman has since been emptied and sold to a California-based developer as part of the hospital’s downsizing plan.)

As for the three couples from Stuyvesant Square who made up the founding members of the SPNA, they were John and Mary Tommaney, Adrian and Marisa Zorgniotti and James and Carvel Moore. Isaly, who now owns and manages a couple of local properties and is also an artist, joined the SPNA upon moving to the neighborhood when she was a newlywed. She’s lived there since then with the exception of a few years in the 1970s when she and her family lived in Paris.

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Woman robbed at gunpoint on East 20th Street

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a man who robbed a woman at gunpoint in Gramercy shortly after midnight on Sunday.

Police said the woman was walking past 201 East 20th Street at Third Avenue when the man approached her, pulled out a small, black handgun and demanded her cash. The woman turned over her money, putting it into a bag the man had and he fled the scene. She was uninjured in the incident. It isn’t clear how much money she lost and police don’t have a description of the suspect although he was caught in some grainy surveillance footage.

Anyone with information 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 or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Robber pulls away cane from man, helps him back up, then steals his cash

Apr5 Robbery elder suspect

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are hunting a man who violently robbed a 70-year-old man on Park Avenue South on Tuesday by pulling his cane away from him as he walked along the sidewalk. After the victim fell to the ground, the suspect took his wallet. Then, upon seeing that there were people approaching them, the robber helped the victim get back to his feet. However, before fleeing west on East 24th Street, he snatched $15 in cash from the victim’s wallet.

The suspect is described as unshaven and light-skinned and was last seen wearing a black knit cap, a gray hooded sweater with red lining, a black jacket and camouflage shoes.

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. All calls are strictly confidential.

Former 21st precinct demolished, new building will be residential

Construction site at 327 East 22nd Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A building in Gramercy that at one time was the 21st Precinct has been torn down and will be replaced with a residential building. The four-story property, 327 East 22nd Street between First and Second Avenues, had already been gutted for a couple of years and covered with a scaffolding but was finally demolished last month.

In 2014, developer Sam Suzuki of Suzuki Capital had bought the building for $11.5 million, planning to turn the building into luxury condos. However, according to Acris property records, he sold it to Atalaya, an alternative investment advisor in May 2017, who then sold it in September 2017 to Bin Yu Wang for $12 million. A deed transfer filed in November 2017 now shows a Suzuki-connected “Gramercy 1860 LLC” to be the new owner. Suzuki, meanwhile, has taken out three mortgages totaling $11.3 million from lender Calmwater Capital, the records show.

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Police suspect convicted robber behind mugging in Gramercy

Theodore Gaddy

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

Police are looking for 32-year-old Theodore Gaddy in connection with a robbery that allegedly took place in front of 150 East 24th Street earlier this month. The 13th precinct tweeted that Gaddy was wanted for a robbery on the evening of January 8. The “wanted” notice in the tweet said that the most recent incident happened in 2017 but police confirmed that the robbery actually occurred this year.

Gaddy allegedly pushed a 16-year-old boy to the ground before grabbing his cell phone and ID card and fleeing the scene. Police said that Gaddy and the boy didn’t know each other and that Gaddy was wearing all black at the time of the incident.

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Former Baruch College coach pleads guilty to embezzling $700G

Jan18 Machli Joseph

Former Baruch College basketball coach Machli Joseph (CUNY image via YouTube)

By Sabina Mollot

A former Baruch College basketball coach has pleaded guilty to embezzling $700,000 from the school, money that he got and then pocketed from renting athletic facilities on the campus to outside parties.

Machli Joseph, 43, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday afternoon and could face up to ten years behind bars. New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said the former City University of New York (CUNY) coach conducted his scheme over a six-year period.

“This college official squandered and abused the trust placed in him by executing a multi-year scheme using school resources to benefit himself with close to three-quarters of a million dollars in stolen public funds,” Inspector General Leahy Scott said. “His crimes went unchecked for years on end and were symptomatic of the lax policies and oversight throughout CUNY facilities that I have been investigating as a separate matter.”

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Burglars hit 16 businesses, taking money from safes and ATMs and even surveillance systems

Burglary suspects

By Sabina Mollot

The NYPD is hunting at least two men they believe to be behind burglaries at 16 businesses in Gramercy, the East Village and other neighborhoods in Manhattan. They’ve gotten away with money from safes and ATMs as well as other items and in a few cases, they even took evidence from the businesses’ surveillance systems. The two suspects are men, while it wasn’t clear about a third suspect who was present at least during one of the incidents. There are only descriptions of two of the suspects and even those are pretty vague, with the NYPD saying they are white and male.

The amount of cash stolen adds up to $53,900, not including an incident where it wasn’t clear how much was taken.

The stealing spree began on December 9-10 (shortly before or after midnight) when the suspects somehow made their way inside a Dunkin Donuts at 140 East 34th Street. After forcing open a safe and ATM, they fled with a combined $3,800.

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Man robs TD Bank in Gramercy

106-18 Bank Robbery MCS 13 pct 01-10-18 PHOTO

Bank robbery suspect

Police are looking for a man who robbed a TD Bank at 131 East 23rd Street between Park Avenue South and Lexington. The man allegedly strolled in on Wednesday afternoon and passed a note to a teller demanding cash. The employee handed over an unknown amount of money and the robber fled west on Lexington.

The suspect has been described as light-skinned and 30 to 40 years old. He was last seen wearing a black winter cap, gray gloves, a gray hooded sweater, a black leather jacket and blue jeans.

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. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

Second person charged in connection with fatal butt injection

LATESHA BYNUM

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a woman following black-market butt enhancing injections she received in a Gramercy apartment over the summer. Police arrested Kevin Richardson, 47, last Tuesday and charged him with manslaughter for the death.

The New York Post reported that Richardson had changed his appearance to avoid being arrested while he was on the run in New Jersey, Louisiana and Texas before being caught.

Latesha Bynum, a 31-year-old woman from Harlem, reportedly received the cosmetic injections from Richardson and 44-year-old Allison Spence, allegedly working as Richardson’s assistant, on July 15 inside an apartment at 319 East 21st Street. Bynum went to the hospital that night, claiming she had chest pains and felt dizzy. She was later declared brain-dead at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Medical Center and was taken off life support on July 27.

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A passion for travel and collecting evolves into Gramercy boutique

Boyar Gifts co-owners Tali Alexander (left) and her sister Michelle (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

When Boyar Gifts owner Tali Alexander bought a 100-year-old stove that weighed a ton at an auction, her husband expressed disbelief that she would have room to put it somewhere, but Alexander wasn’t worried. And the timing ultimately worked out because she was able to have it brought directly from the auction to where it now sits in the front display window of the new store on Second Avenue between East 22nd and 23rd Streets.

“In the process of building out the space, I realized it would fit right in,” she said. “It became almost the mascot of the store and it really worked because I wanted to bring a homey element to this place.”

This habit of collecting items she doesn’t necessarily have a place for during her travels, a habit that both she and her sister share, was one of the main motivations for opening the gift shop, Alexander said.

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Powers and Rivera win big in City Council race

 

Council Member-elect Keith Powers, pictured outside Peter Cooper Village on Tuesday morning with his mother Barbara and Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

Council Member-elect Carlina Rivera (center) with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Gale Brewer)

By Sabina Mollot

After a citywide general election that proved to be hotly contested in local City Council races but somewhat lackluster in the mayoral department, the results were in on Tuesday night, with all sought after positions remaining solidly Democrat.

Based on unofficial results provided by the New York City Board of Elections, Keith Powers and Carlina Rivera will be the next City Council members, replacing the term-limited Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, respectively.

Democrat Rivera won with wide margins in District 2, receiving 82.86 percent of the vote. Republican and Rent is 2 Damn High Party’s Jimmy McMillan got 11.58 percent of the vote. Liberal Party’s Jasmin Sanchez got 2.02 percent. Libertarian Party’s Don Garrity got 1.73 percent. Green Party’s Manny Cavaco got 1.56 percent. There were also 59 write-ins (0.26 percent) out of 23,047 people voting in the race.

Democrat Powers also won easily with 57.09 percent of the vote in District 4. Republican Rebecca Harary came in second with 30.75 percent. The tally also includes votes for the candidate through the other lines she ran on, Women’s Equality, Reform and Stop de Blasio. Liberal Party’s Rachel Honig got 12.06 percent. There were also 26 write-ins (0.1 percent) out of 27,511 people voting.

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, as was widely predicted, got Daniel Squadron’s abandoned downtown Senate seat, receiving 84.86 percent of the vote. Republican candidate Analicia Alexander got 14.68 percent. This means Kavanagh’s District 74 Assembly seat, which includes Stuyvesant Town and Waterside, is now vacant. A few local Democrats have already expressed interest.

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Woman arrested in connection with fatal butt injection on East 21st Street

Aug3 Fatal butt injection

LATESHA BYNUM

By Sabina Mollot 

Police have arrested a Queens woman believed to have been involved in the death of a woman who received a fatal cosmetic butt injection last summer in an unmarked building near Peter Cooper Village.

Allison Spence, 44, has been arrested on charges of manslaughter and unauthorized practice of profession for the injection. Spence, who police said turned herself in, allegedly acted as a nurse during the procedure, for which the suspected doctor has still not been arrested. Police said they have identified the man but haven’t disclosed his name. That man is not a real doctor, according to a story in CBS New York, but police told Town & Village they couldn’t confirm that at this time.

The procedure was performed at a third floor apartment at 319 East 21st Street, between First and Second Avenues on July 15. Later police were summoned in response to Bynum complaining of dizziness and chest pains. She was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, but 12 days later was taken off life support after being pronounced brain dead.

The medical examiner has deemed the death of 31-year-old mother Latesha Bynum, a Harlem resident, a homicide.

A lawyer for Bynum’s family told CBS New York the doctor is a phony who used a Dunkin Donuts as his waiting room, and that a fake nurse greeted her. The attorney also said the doctor had a pattern of injecting unsuspecting women with “silicone poison into his patients’ buttocks and/or thighs.”

Meanwhile, Spence’s sister told the Daily News her sister denied giving any injection, saying she only prepped the patient by massaging her muscles.

 

Powers and Rivera crush competition in primary

Unlike the sun, Council candidate Keith Powers was up bright and early, along with Council Member Dan Garodnick, to cast his vote in Peter Cooper Village. (Photo by Chris Carroll)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Peter Cooper Village resident Keith Powers and Lower East Side resident Carlina Rivera each won their respective primary races for City Council on Tuesday, following major endorsements for the candidates in the days leading up to voting.

With about 93 percent of the votes counted on Wednesday morning, Powers was declared the winner in the District 4 race with 41.24 percent of the vote and Rivera won the primary for District 2 by a wide margin, receiving 60.76 percent of the vote.

Powers’ closest competitor, Upper East Sider Marti Speranza, received 22.78 percent of the vote. None of the other seven candidates received more than 10 percent of the vote but Rachel Honig and Bessie Schachter came the closest, receiving 8.59 and 8.26 respectively. Vanessa Aronson received 6.68 percent and Maria Castro got 4.74 percent of the vote. Peter Cooper Village resident Barry Shapiro received 2.10 percent and Alec Hartman got 1.04 percent.

Kips Bay resident Mary Silver was Rivera’s closest competitor but still only received 16.41 percent of the vote. Former Obama staffer Ronnie Cho received 8.5 percent of the vote, community organizer Jasmin Sanchez got 5 percent and attorney Jorge Vasquez received 7.58 percent. East Village resident Erin Hussein technically dropped out of the race prior to the election but still received 1.9 percent of the vote.

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‘Taste’ returns on Sept. 16

Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, an annual street food fair/fundraiser held by the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, will be celebrating its fifth event on Saturday, September 16.

Around 20 restaurants from the neighborhood will be involved, offering tasting of signature dishes, under an open sky. The event, as always, takes place along one block, Irving Place between 17th and 18th Streets, from noon-4 p.m.

The money raised from the event goes to two local schools, School of the Future and PS 40.

Alan Krevis, president of GNA, said the event has grown each year in terms of how many tickets get sold, with mostly local people attending as well as some visiting from out of town.

“It’s grown tremendously,” said Krevis. “Last year we sold almost 400 tickets, so it is changing. We’re getting all the foodies. It’s becoming a destination.”

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Female pick-pockets steal wallet at Flatiron restaurant

Pick-pocketing suspects

Police are looking for two women who worked together to steal a wallet from a woman eating dinner at a restaurant on Park Avenue South.

On Saturday, August 19 at around 8 p.m., the two suspects were sitting at a table at Farmer and the Fish near a 56-year-old woman whose purse was draped over the back of her chair. Both the suspects took turns reaching into the victim’s purse and one of them was able to get her wallet. The pair then left.

An hour and a half later, the victim’s credit card was used to by over $1,500 worth of merchandise at a Target at 445 Gold Street in Brooklyn.

Both suspects are heavy black women, one with blond hair, who was last seen wearing a dress, the other with black hair, last seen wearing a black baseball cap, a t-shirt and jeans.

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.