Pair charged with robberies at 16th St. spa

Spring Garden Spa (Photo via Google Maps)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested two people and are looking for a third in connection with multiple robberies that took place at an East 16th Street spa since the end of April.

Police said that 20-year-old Shaquasha Goldstein and 33-year-old Eric Dineen, who were caught outside the Papaya Dog at 239 First Avenue last Saturday at 6:43 p.m., allegedly used deception to get inside the Spring Garden Spa at 344 East 16th Street, west of First Avenue, on multiple occasions to steal cash from the register.

Police said that Dineen and the person who wasn’t arrested rang the bell at the business on Friday, May 4 at 10:30 p.m.

When the victim answered the door, Dineen allegedly pushed the employee to get inside with Goldstein and the third person. Police said there is video surveillance of Dineen entering the business.

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Two suspects arrested for potentially bias-related assaults in Union Square

Suspect Willie Ames

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested two men in the last week in unrelated incidents in Union Square after their alleged erratic behavior landed victims in the hospital.

Willie Ames, 47, was collared last Thursday for allegedly pushing a construction worker into the subway tracks at the Union Square station after making derogatory comments about his ethnicity earlier last month, and the New York Post noted that 34-year-old Anthony Powell was arrested this past Sunday night after he allegedly caused a panic at the Union Square Regal movie theater, reportedly strangling one of the people who was attempting to flee.

Police said that Ames, who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat during the incident in the subway station, began harassing two men of Mexican descent while they were on an uptown train that was heading towards Union Square on April 20 around 8:15 p.m. Ames allegedly turned to one of the men and said, “You guys come here to take our jobs and you bring drugs. F—king Mexicans, you people are dirty, you people are nasty.”

Once the train pulled into the station, Ames allegedly grabbed one of the men, who the New York Daily News identified as Luis Lopez, pulling him off the train and onto the platform at Union Square. The district attorney’s office said that Ames punched Lopez in the face three times and pushed him onto the subway tracks, causing a cut on his head that required staples to his scalp.

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Man arrested for arson at Bellevue

Bellevue Hospital Center (Photo courtesy of HHC)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A 24-year-old man was arrested after allegedly setting fires inside Bellevue Hospital.

Police said that a security guard saw Jason Peterson-Ridge on video surveillance starting multiple fires on three different floors shortly after he was discharged as a patient at the hospital on September 24 at 10 p.m.

According to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Peterson-Ridge approached a hand sanitizer stand inside the hospital and filled the catching tray with hand sanitizer, then lit the vapors, causing them to ignite and start a fire.

The FDNY said that the fire caused the dispenser to melt, resulting in damage to the floor and additionally caused charring to the wall and smoke damage to the wall and ceiling.

Police said that he fled to his apartment nearby, where he was arrested a few hours later at 1:46 a.m.

Peterson-Ridge’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

 

Serial subway flasher apparently still at it

Suspect Kenneth Hoyt

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a man with a lengthy history of arrests for flashing women on the subway (as well as other crimes) who they say was up to his old tricks recently.

One of the incidents was at the 28th Street R subway station, where the man, who police suspect is serial subway flasher Kenneth Hoyt, exposed himself before moving on to another train later. There were also two other incidents downtown.

Cops said the man was wearing a long shirt and sneakers, but no pants, when he sat down near a 32-year-old woman on the R train on the morning of August 16 and exposed his crotch. The victim got out at 28th Street but he stayed on the train. A few hours later, at 4 p.m., police believe Hoyt did the same thing as he sat across from a 29-year-old woman on the R train. She got off the train near Murray Street but he stayed on. The most recent known incident was on September 5, when Hoyt allegedly lifted his shirt to expose himself to a 40-year-old woman on the R train near Murray Street.

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Biden takes aim at rape kit backlog

(L-R) “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” Actress Mariska Hargitay, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Vice President Joe Biden at a press conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to discuss grants that would reduce the backlog of untested rape kits. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

(L-R) “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” Actress Mariska Hargitay, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Vice President Joe Biden at a press conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to discuss grants that would reduce the backlog of untested rape kits. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Vice President Joe Biden and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch joined Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance last Thursday to announce $38 million in grants that will be going to states across the country to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits.

The announcement about the grant money, which came from an initiative by the Manhattan DA’s office, was made at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on First Avenue and East 26th Street last Thursday. There, Biden and Lynch also took the opportunity to announce the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance’s separate but complementary grant program that awards $41 million in federal funding for the testing of sexual assault kits, for a total of $80 million in funding to address the national rape kit backlog.

The initiative from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office awarded grants to 32 jurisdictions in 20 states to test an estimated 56,475 rape kits and the initiative from BJA, known as the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (“SAKI”) Grant Program, is expected to test about 13,500 sexual assault kits in 20 jurisdictions.

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East Village recovering from explosion, DA starts investigation

Firefighters work to put out last Thursday’s deadly fire. (Photo by Robert Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)

Firefighters work to put out last Thursday’s deadly fire. (Photo by Robert Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

One week ago on Thursday, three buildings on Second Avenue near East 7th Street collapsed due to an explosion and fire last Thursday that killed two people. The first two buildings to collapse were 121 and 123 Second Avenue on Thursday afternoon and the fire that followed the explosion largely gutted the third building involved, 119 Second Avenue. Firefighters at the scene demolished the parts of the building’s façade that remained standing with water on Thursday evening, The New York Times reported.

The FDNY had gotten the emergency call from 125 Second Avenue at 3:17 p.m. and while that building did not collapse, it was heavily fire damaged, although additional information about the conditions was not immediately available.

The mayor confirmed last Thursday evening that the explosion was caused by plumbing and gas work that was going on in 121 Second Avenue and Con Edison said on Thursday that the building had failed an inspection earlier that day.

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Teen arrested for fake checks from Waterside Tenants Association

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

An 18-year-old, Lionel Burton, was arrested last Thursday after two fraudulent checks belonging to the Waterside Plaza Tenants Association were deposited into his Bank of America account, the District Attorney’s office said.

The amount of the checks totaled $1,956.50 and once deposited, at the beginning of January, Burton allegedly withdrew $930 from his account. Police said that he later withdrew an additional $505.59 with his ATM card in four separate transactions.

Burton had allegedly provided access to his online banking information to someone that he met on Instagram and he told police that the person he gave his banking information to was known as “Vanilla Bada$$,” but no additional information about this person was available. Police said that after Burton provided his banking information, the fraudulent checks were deposited into his online banking account via cell phone. No information was available about how the checks were deposited into Burton’s banking account or who deposited them.

Waterside Plaza Tenants Association President Janet Handal said that the incident happened after the TA had given out holiday gratuity checks to the Waterside Plaza staff at the end of last year, as they have in the past.

“This is the first year that this has happened,” she said.

Handal said that police told her whoever deposited the checks is associated with Waterside Plaza in some way, because the fraudulent checks that were deposited had the correct account numbers, which means that the person had seen a copy of a valid check from the TA.

“There’s a connection to Waterside somewhere but (the NYPD doesn’t) know where yet,” she said.

Handal added that there had also been an attempt to deposit another fraudulent check for almost $5,000.

“That was the thing that alerted us to the problem,” she noted. “We would have seen the problem anyway but that was our heads up.”

Burton’s Legal Aid attorney didn’t return a call for comment by Town & Village’s deadline.