Maloney calls for formation of coalition to fight anti-Semitism

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney discusses the recent rash of anti-Semitic vandalism across the country. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Last Monday, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney called for a domestic adaptation of Europe-based commission to fight anti-Semitism, after multiple acts of vandalism have damaged tombstones in Jewish cemeteries across the country.

Maloney pointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, which works to protect and preserve monuments and buildings in Europe associated with the heritage of U.S. citizens, but no such government agency exists to protect monuments within the United States.

“We spend time in foreign countries helping them preserve their cemeteries,” she said. “What about here?”

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Homeless man arrested for violent Kips Bay mugging

Darnell Williams

By Sabina Mollot

A homeless man from the 30th Street men’s shelter has been arrested for allegedly bashing a woman over the head with an unknown object multiple times in an attempt to get her bag.

Police say Darnell Williams, 29, was picked up at the shelter, known locally as Bellevue, on Thursday night, after being recognized by police from surveillance footage.

Cops said Williams has a lengthy criminal history and was released from prison two months ago after a five year stint for a robbery upstate.

He also has arrests for grand larceny in upstate areas as well as an arrest for criminal trespass in the city.

In the most recent incident, on February 26, the victim, a 37-year-old woman was walking along Second Avenue at 34th Street when a man approached her from behind and struck her on the head. He then pulled on her bag, knocking her down in the process. While the victim was still on the ground, her attacker continued to hit her in the head with the object before fleeing empty-handed. The woman was taken to NYU Hospital for treatment.

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New leader for embattled ACS

ACS Commissioner David Hansell, with Mayor Bill de Blasio Photo by Sabina Mollot)

ACS Commissioner David Hansell, with Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After a particularly troubling year for the city’s child welfare agency, Mayor Bill de Blasio last Tuesday announced a new pick for commissioner of the Administration of Children’s Services.

David Hansell, who was previously the chief of staff at the New York City Human Resources Administration from 2002-2006, was named as the replacement for Gladys Carrion. Carrion resigned after the high-profile death of an abused six-year-old named Zymere Perkins who’d been under the ACS’s radar.

The introduction was made at a packed press conference at the ACS’s First Avenue headquarters in Kips Bay, with reporters asking about systemic failures at the agency, which the mayor to some degree denied. De Blasio said many of the problems at the agency during the Perkins case had to do with individual employees not doing their jobs and that those individuals had either been fired or “reprimanded in another way.”

Hansell, meanwhile, said he had not yet taken a “deep dive” into the agency’s past failures, but said he hoped his managerial experience would help fix any lingering problems in policy.

De Blasio praised Hansell for his “compassionate leadership,” adding that his takeover comes at a time when the agency is facing up to 60,000 cases a year.

“Often complex and painful situations that don’t present themselves obviously in a lot of cases,” the mayor said. “There are times we don’t have an indication that a family is in danger. Our job, our mission is to save every child. David Hansell understands that.”

The mayor’s statement is a contradiction of Carrion’s, who once reportedly said that not every child could be protected.

Hansell, who also worked for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis during the height of the AIDS epidemic, said he felt there was “no greater calling” than the opportunity to serve vulnerable communities.

“I worked on the front lines at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and it’s shown me what happens when the government takes a callous attitude to those who need help the most and also showed me what can happen when the government cares.”

More recently, he spent five years as managing director of the Global Human & Social Services Center of Excellence at KPMG, a tax advisory and auditing firm. Before that, he served as acting assistant secretary and principal deputy assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He’s also held other government positions.

As for the ACS, he said he planned to take a “top to bottom” look to “protect what’s working and change what is not,” using “metrics-based” management. Hansell added that he welcomed working with an independent monitor that’s been assigned by the state to oversee the ACS and looked forward to working more closely with the NYPD to protect children as well as ACS staff from dangerous situations.

Hansell also said he was a “great admirer” of Carrion, saying they’d worked together in Albany, though, he added, “There are things we’ll do differently.”

He said he was looking into the “child-stat” program that’s similar to the NYPD’s Crime Stat program for tracking crime. “My job will be to make sure it’s as effective as it can be,” Hansell said, adding that he was also planning on making sure ACS employees had proper training. The mayor said $49 million was being spent on improvements, including in training.

When reporters asked the mayor about how recently caseloads have gone up at the ACS, de Blasio responded that this was typical after a high-profile case like Perkins’.

After months of physical abuse, Perkins died after being beaten with a broomstick by his mother’s boyfriend, who then hung him by his shirt on a door.

De Blasio said he expected he would “not be surprised” if caseloads would start to decline with Hansell’s hiring.

He also disagreed with a reporter who’d heard that preventative services were not available enough, although he admitted, “It’s not where we want it to be.” He also said he would make sure the ACS was supported in getting resources. Asked about a recent state report about the the agency, the mayor said he thought it was “simplistic” to expect a report to be completely accurate.

Dr. Herminia Palacio added, “We need to be cautious about making some extrapolations. We need to be judicious and informed about the way we move forward.”

De Blasio said he had seen the agency when he agreed there were in fact system-wide problems, which came under a spotlight after the fatal beatdown of Nixzmary Brown. Seven-year-old Brown died at the hands of her stepfather, who also had sexually abused her, in 2006.

“Every New Yorker felt the loss personally because there were many chances to save her,” the mayor said. “One of the things that became clear after that was that there weren’t enough communications between the NYPD and the ACS. A lot was done in the aftermath to change that. No one disagreed that the two agencies were missing an opportunity to work on a common cause but we constantly see a need for more.”

He also pointed to cases in the more recent past where the ACS has pushed for removal of children from homes only to have a court not approve the request.

“The challenge is how do we get that agreed upon by a judge?” said de Blasio. “That’s one of the big challenges here.”

Another goal, he said, was to lower foster placements, with the mayor saying placing a child who’s been removed from parents with nuclear family members was preferable, and reduced reports of abuse.

Hansell, asked why he was taking the job considering the risks of being called a failure should there be another child death, answered, “I know it won’t be easy.”

Palacio also pointed out that New Yorkers could also play a role in saving abused or neglected children by speaking up. “If you feel a child’s life is in danger, pick up a phone,” she said.

Drone crashes through window at Waterside

Karma drone

Karma drone

By Sabina Mollot

A resident of Waterside Plaza got the shock of her life when a drone came crashing through her window at Waterside on Saturday evening. The woman, who’s 66, was nearby but unharmed when the drone landed. However, the window of her 27th floor apartment at 20 Waterside Plaza was shattered.

Police are investigating the matter, since flying drones in New York City is illegal except in certain parks.

Peter Davis, general manager of Waterside Plaza, noted that doing so is especially dangerous near the East River property because it’s adjacent to spots where seaplanes and helicopters land. Waterside is also home to 4,000 people.

“We’re very lucky that no one was hurt,” he said. “It was a reckless and irresponsible act to fly a drone in an urban area, not to mention illegal. It’s not fun and games.”

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Stuy Town woman: Handy cleaner stole from my apartment

Jennifer Kops (pictured in 2013 at a Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Jennifer Kops (pictured in 2013 at a Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this month, the NYPD sent out an email blast, noting that police had become aware of 50 complaints of theft that were traced back to Handy, an app that allows users to hire people who clean their apartments and do handyman type work. The cops added that there has been one arrest within the past month related to such an incident.

However, despite the memo being picked up by a few news outlets, including this one, thefts from apartments have apparently continued. Handy, like Uber, is a platform connecting workers to those in need of service, with customers listing dates and times they would like the work done and contractors responding to accept the job.

And, as one resident of Stuyvesant Town who utilized the company’s services on five occasions told us, she was definitely cleaned out when an estimated $5,000 in cash and jewelry went missing from her apartment.

The resident, Jennifer Kops, a mom of two, said after the first cleaner came and did a “fantastic job,” she didn’t have a problem letting in future cleaners (there were two others) into her home while she was at work.

“To me it seemed like a great plan; I come home to a nice smelling house.”

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Garodnick recommends Trump Tower police unit

Council Member Dan Garodnick

Council Member Dan Garodnick

By Sabina Mollot

Since the presidential election, traffic in the midtown streets surrounding Trump Tower has been consistently snarled, with local stores reporting a yuuuuge amount of lost business as a result.

While it did help that shortly before the New Year, the block of 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues was once again opened to traffic, the area still feels somewhat militarized. The reopening had been pushed by City Council Member Dan Garodnick, whose district includes Trump Tower, and this week, Garodnick spoke with Town & Village about how the neighborhood has been inconvenienced since Donald Trump was elected president.

“It’s an ongoing headache that gets worse when he’s around and we hope he does not choose to use Trump Tower as a pied-a-terre,” said Garodnick.

Incidentally, First Lady Melania Trump has recently reiterated plans to remain at Trump Tower with her son Barron until the school semester ends before moving to the White House.

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Man charged with robbing and choking Stuy Town woman

June23 sign

Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A Stuyvesant Town woman was attacked inside her apartment by a man she met on the street earlier that night at the end of last month.

Police said that the 52-year-old victim met three men in the neighborhood on the night of January 22 and invited them back to her apartment at 5 Stuyvesant Oval around 12:45 a.m. Two of the men left the apartment shortly after to buy cigarettes and once they were gone, 23-year-old Shadi Torres allegedly grabbed the victim and threw her to the ground.

According to the District Attorney’s office, Torres also attempted to pull down her pants and allegedly attempted to strangle her, putting a hand around her neck and forcefully squeezing her throat, causing substantial pain and swelling. A criminal complaint said that the victim attempted to call 911 but Torres grabbed the phone and threw it against the wall. When the victim tried to call 911 on her cell phone, Torres allegedly grabbed the device and ran out of the apartment. It was unclear if the victim’s phone was recovered.

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Pigeon-napper strikes again, says PCV woman

Pigeons like these have been getting sold for target practice. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Pigeons like these have been getting sold for target practice. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last month, Town & Village reported that a ring of bird-nappers have been seen trapping and then selling local pigeons to customers out of state who then use them for target practice. While they have yet to be arrested, one bird-napper was caught last year on Stuyvesant Town’s surveillance cameras as he worked to catch birds on East 14th Street and First Avenue.

And now, he’s back, according to a woman who said she watched in horror as a man caught pigeons in a net in Peter Cooper Village on Saturday.

The witness, a resident of Peter Cooper who asked that her name not be published, said it happened in broad daylight at around 12:10 p.m. on First Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets.

She said she watched as he put out some seed, and following a few birds’ immediate interest, quickly scooped them up. He didn’t get more than those few, however, since the woman said she screamed at him to stop.

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Bird-nappers selling local pigeons for shooting practice

A suspected bird-napper was caught in the act on Stuyvesant Town surveillance footage. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

A suspected bird-napper was caught in the act on Stuyvesant Town surveillance footage. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Wildlife advocates are in a fowl mood thanks to a ring of pigeon-nappers. The bird thieves have been trapping the ubiquitous New York bird from local parks recently and selling them for target practice out of state, including to customers in Pennsylvania. Neighborhood resident and wildlife advocate Andrew Garn expressed his concern for the birds at the recent community council meeting at the 13th Precinct on Tuesday.

“I know it sounds like a joke,” Garn admitted after a smattering of laughter from meeting attendees. “But this has been going on in the neighborhood for years.”

Garn, a photographer who took an interest in the birds’ plight about two years ago after photographing them for about eight years, said that the trappers catch the birds by putting down feed and using spring-loaded nets. Garn lives in Stuyvesant Square and although he noted that this is an ongoing problem throughout the city, he said it is especially prevalent in parks in his neighborhood.

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IT worker allegedly sold NYPD members’, applicants’ information

235 East 20th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

235 East 20th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested 37-year-old Idahosa Ighodaro, an NYPD certified IT administrator, for grand larceny in the department’s offices at 235 East 20th Street last Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. Ighodaro allegedly sold personnel information on almost 5,000 current members and applicants of the NYPD.

Police said that as a certified IT administrator, Ighodaro has access to personnel files that include information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, social security numbers, tax identification numbers and other personal identifying information.

According to a complaint from the District Attorney’s office, Ighodaro gave an informant an external hard drive belonging to the NYPD at the end of last November near East 20th Street and Third Avenue. An officer for the Internal Affairs Bureau at the NYPD said that Ighodaro didn’t have permission to take the hard drive from his office or give it to anyone else and a sergeant for the computer crimes section at Internal Affairs determined that the hard drive contained personal identifying information, including social security numbers, for approximately 4,760 members and applicants of the NYPD.

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L train breakdancer wanted for phone snatching

Mugging suspect

Phone snatching suspect

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police are looking for a subway performer in connection with a phone snatching that took place on Christmas Day around 2 p.m. in the 13th precinct.

Police sources said that the 54-year-old victim was traveling on the L train with his wife and son and while the train was between First and Third Avenues, the suspect and others began breakdancing in the car. The victim told police that he asked them to stop because the noise was disturbing his sleeping son. Sources said that the suspect and other performers ignored him, so the victim began filming them. When the train pulled into the station at Third Avenue, the suspect reportedly grabbed the victim’s Samsung Galaxy phone and ran off the train. The victim said that he ran onto the platform after him, tackling the suspect and knocking the phone to the ground. The breakdancer then fled the station and no arrest was made at the time of the incident.

Police described the suspect as a black man around 5’6″ and approximately 160 lbs. 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 or by texting their tips and TIP577 to 274637 (CRIMES).

All calls are strictly confidential.

Robber punches woman at Kips Bay spa

dec22-kips-bay-robber

Kips Bay robbery suspect (Photo via NYPD)

By Sabina Mollot
Cops are hunting a brute who robbed a 40-year-old woman, punched her multiple times and then demanded she strip.

Police said this happened on Wednesday, shortly before 1 p.m. at a Kips Bay acupuncture center/spa. The man strode into the business, Green Tea acupuncture wellness, at 240 East 28th Street, before demanding money from the cash register. He then punched a female employee repeatedly in the face and on her body. While grabbing her by the neck, he also told her to take off her clothes, police said. She didn’t although she did at that point give $500 to the man who fled in an unknown direction.

The woman was taken to a local hospital where she was treated and released.

The suspect is described as black-Hispanic, 6’2″ tall and 220 lbs., with blotchy skin, brown eyes and short curly black hair. He was last seen wearing a dark blue jacket, blue jeans, black sneakers and a multi-colored back pack.

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.

 

Police Watch: Robbery at Maialino, Increased security after Berlin market attack

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY AT MAIALINO
Police arrested 34-year-old Brenda Garza inside Danny Meyer’s Maialino restaurant after she allegedly swiped a woman’s credit card and punched the victim in the face.
According to police, last Wednesday close to midnight, Garza allegedly swiped the victim’s credit card from the bar of the restaurant, which is located at the Gramercy Park Hotel. When the victim tried to get her card back, Garza allegedly punched her in the face multiple times. A witness attempted to stop Garza but then she allegedly struck him in the face as well, giving him a split lip. Bar security attempted to stop Garza from leaving the bar and as they approached her, she allegedly dropped the victim’s card on the ground, where it was found.
Garza was charged with robbery and possession of stolen property.

SECURITY BEEFED UP IN NYC HOLIDAY MARKETS AFTER TRUCK INCIDENT IN BERLIN
The NYPD has stepped up security at high profile outdoor Christmas markets throughout New York City following 12 people being killed when a truck driver plowed through a Christmas market in Berlin.
There’s no specific threat in NYC stemming from the incident in Germany, but as a precaution, the NYPD is moving heavily armed Critical Response Command officers toward these displays. Locations for the Christmas markets include Union Square, Columbus Circle and Bryant Park, as well as several others across the city.
Meanwhile, police are searching for a Tunisian man identified as Anis Amri who has multiple aliases, according to the Guardian.
The suspect’s identity papers were found inside the truck used in Monday’s attack, which left, along with those fatally injured, 48 others with injuries, CNN reported. ISIS has already claimed it inspired the attack.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR PHONE THEFT AFTER PHOTO OF HER SHOWS UP ON VICTIM’S ICLOUD ACCOUNT
Police arrested 27-year-old Nina Roman for possession of stolen property last Tuesday at 4:58 p.m. inside A.I. Friedman at 44 West 18th Street. The victim told police that she went into the art supply store on December 10 around 4:30 p.m., where Roman works. The victim said that she put her phone down on a shelf inside the store and when she turned back to it, the phone was missing. Around 10:45 p.m. that night, she noticed that her phone pinged to Hart Street between Throop and Tompkins Avenues in Brooklyn. There was also allegedly a photo of Roman on the victim’s phone, which the victim saw because it uploaded to her iCloud and the phone is synced to the iCloud account.

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Flatiron gets in the holiday spirit with SantaCon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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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Soapbox: Speak up to end the use of chokeholds

By Michelle Deal Winfield

“I can’t breathe,” was uttered by Eric Garner in 2014, as he took his last breath after Officer Daniel Pantaleo applied a chokehold to his neck, a procedure banned by the New York Police Department, NYPD. The procedure is banned but some police officers have continued to use it. Alissa Scheller, in The Huffington Post in 2014, wrote, “Chokehold complaints are predominantly in black neighborhoods.”

In 1993, the NYPD ban prohibited police officers from applying any pressure to the neck during arrest. So what is all the fuss about if the tactic is banned? Despite the ban, officers continue to use the practice and there is no New York City law to address it. The chokehold is not illegal.

The Progressive Caucus, 28 members of the New York City Council, proposed Intro. 540-A, which defines the chokehold as an illegal act punishable by imprisonment and a $2,000 fine.

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