Cops investigate suspicious package at First Avenue L train station

Aug17 bomb scare

By Sabina Mollot

At around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the NYPD Bomb Squad cordoned off First Avenue near the L train station on East 14th Street and the station itself after getting a 911 call about a suspicious package. However, by 5:40 p.m., the NYPD gave the all clear. As for what the package, which had been seen under a bench on the southbound platform was, a spokesperson for the department said he didn’t know other than “It wasn’t a bomb.” The photo, taken by Stuyvesant Town resident Henry Beck shows a traffic-free First Avenue at around 15th Street at 5:30 p.m. today.

 

Candidate threatened with arrest while calling for reform of the city’s privately owned public spaces

Marti Speranza said she tried but was unable to get a permit to hold her press conference at the Trump Tower Atrium, which is supposed to be publicly accessible. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Marti Speranza, a Democrat running for City Council, risked but ultimately evaded arrest on Monday while calling for reform of Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS).

Ironically, the threat of arrest came because of the venue of her press conference, one of the city’s so-called POPS located in the atrium of Trump Tower.

As Speranza and supporters gathered at the space before the press conference, which was on a level below the ground floor, they were told they’d be arrested if they didn’t leave, her campaign staffers later said. However, Speranza and a couple of other speakers went on to make their arguments anyway, uninterrupted, as a few suit wearing men hovered at the room’s entrance. Afterwards, they stepped forward to ask the candidate and staffers if they’d be dispersing. Speranza’s campaign manager said the men later identified themselves as police from the NYPD’s Intelligence Unit. While no voices were raised, one of the men said he would normally turn the matter over to the legal department, but then added, “We don’t want to go that route.” He also asked if the campaign was planning any similar events in the future. When a staffer responded that doing so would be the campaign’s right, the man disagreed, but ultimately no one was kicked out.

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Thieves working together to steal phones from Manhattan stores

Cell phone theft suspects 1, 3 and 4

Police are looking for a group of five thieves who’ve been working in groups as well as alone to hit cell phone stores, including one in Union Square.

Cops said the most recent incident was on July 2 at an AT&T store at 31 East 17 Street west of Park Avenue South. One of the aforementioned individuals posed as a customer and then ripped a cell phone off the display case, where it had been attached by a security cable. He then fled the store.

The first known incident was on June 12 at an AT&T store at 33 Park Place near City Hall. Three men, or possibly teenagers, posed as customers and ripped three cell phones off the display case, after cutting through security cable.

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Man rubs against woman on L train at First Avenue

Forcible touching suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who rubbed himself against a female straphanger on the L train last Wednesday.

Police said the victim, a 33-year-old woman, was on the train at the First Avenue station when a man who was standing behind her forcibly rubbed himself against her buttocks. The victim then snapped a photo of the man who was sticking out his tongue before he fled the train. Police said it isn’t clear if the man was grinding against the woman with his crotch.

Update: The victim told DNAinfo he was gyrating his hips repeatedly and she could feel he was aroused.

The suspect is described as Hispanic, approximately 5’6″ with brown eyes and black hair and was last seen wearing an orange t-shirt.

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Garodnick says he’d work with NYPD on surveillance bill

Councilmember Dan Garodnick

By Sabina Mollot

In March, Council Member Dan Garodnick, along with Council Member Vanessa Gibson of the Bronx, introduced a police oversight bill that’s aimed at making the technology the NYPD uses for its anti-terror efforts and the policies under which they are used more transparent.

But it was last Wednesday, when the Council members held a rally and hearing to push the bill, dubbed the POST Act, when the NYPD as well as the mayor responded to slam it, arguing that it would put too much sensitive information in the hands of terrorists.

Garodnick has since reiterated an earlier claim that he was willing the work with police to tweak the bill, adding that police’s bashing of the act as “a blueprint for harm” has amounted to fear-mongering.

Other opinions have already varied just as widely. A Wall Street Journal editorial with the headline “A Terrorist’s Guide to New York City” cited last year’s bombing in Chelsea while calling Garodnick and the bill’s supporters “anti-anti-terror stalwarts.” Meanwhile, an opinion piece in the Daily News called the legislation a much needed step considering previously reported incidents of NYPD surveillance incidents of students and activists.

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Cops looking for man who duped elderly woman out of $2G for ‘bail’

Scam suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who duped an elderly Peter Cooper Village resident out of $2,000, claiming it was bail she’d need to pay to free a friend who was arrested.

The man called the victim, a 93-year-old woman, at home on Friday, May 26 to say that a friend of hers was arrested and at Rikers Island. He then informed her the bail would cost her $6,500. When the victim said she only had $2,000, the scammer then arrived at her home to collect the cash. Afterwards, the victim got suspicious and called her friend, who, it turned out, had not been arrested.

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Street re-dedicated to fallen cop

Officers of the 13th Precinct attend a ceremony in honor of P.O. Anthony Sanchez who was gunned down in the line of duty. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Officers from the 13th Precinct joined friends and family members of slain Police Officer Anthony Sanchez on Friday for a ceremony to rededicate the section of East 20th Street between Second and Third Avenue named in his honor on the 20th anniversary of his death.

Sanchez had worked at the precinct for 10 years with his partner, now-retired Detective Roy Ruland, who attended the ceremony last week, in addition to Sanchez’s widow, Elizabeth, and mother, Loretta.

Sanchez’s son John couldn’t make it to the ceremony but Elizabeth read a statement he had prepared, where he expressed the pride he felt whenever he came across the part of East 21st Street that had been co-named in honor of his father.

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Mom, son tried to get ST apt. with fake ID, cops say

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police busted a woman and her son for attempting to lease an apartment in Peter Cooper Village and in Murray Hill with an allegedly stolen identity last Tuesday. Christine Thompson, 48, and 19-year-old Christopher Vlado were arrested inside the Stuyvesant Town leasing office at 252 First Avenue after the pair went through the application process for apartments at 370 First Avenue in Peter Cooper and at 12 East 37th Street in April.

Thompson and Vlado allegedly toured the apartment in Peter Cooper Village on April 14.

The DA’s office said that Thompson went into the Stuy Town leasing office on April 22 and applied for the Peter Cooper apartment, allegedly presenting herself as the victim whose ID was being used. She reportedly signed the application that day and returned to the leasing office last Tuesday to sign the lease agreement. According to the DA’s office, Vlado sat with Thompson while she went through the application and pointed out where she needed to sign the victim’s name. She allegedly signed the victim’s name 33 times on the lease agreement and provided management with 12 money orders, each with the victim’s name in the signature.

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Man grinds on woman at Union Square subway

Subway grinder

Police are looking for a man who allegedly pushed his crotch up against a woman’s buttocks as she was on board an uptown 4 or 5 train near Union Square East and 14th Street. Police said when the 36-year-old victim turned around, she saw that the man was masturbating.

The incident occurred on the evening of Thursday, January 5 although information from the NYPD was just released today. A detective said the delay in making it public was due to the length of this particular investigation although it’s not known to be part of a pattern.

The suspect is described as 30-35 years old and 5’9″-6’0″ tall. He was last seen wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, black winter jacket, baseball hat 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 www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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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