Three men arrested for rapes, robberies

Suspects Isaias Rivera (left) and Joey Cruz

Suspects Isaias Rivera (left) and Joey Cruz

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police have arrested three men over the weekend in connection with three rapes and robberies in the Bronx and Manhattan, including an incident that took place in Gramercy last Tuesday.

Fernando Sandel, 26, was apprehended last Friday and was charged with rape, robbery and strangulation. The two other suspects, 31-year-old Isaias Rivera and 26-year-old Joey Cruz were arrested on Sunday. Both were also charged with rape, robbery and strangulation.

All three of the victims had agreed to meet with one of the men after placing ads offering sex for money on backpage.com, a website with listings for adult entertainment, according to a report in the New York Times.

The incident in Gramercy occurred at the victim’s apartment on Lexington Avenue around 10:40 p.m. on August 4. The 32-year-old victim told police that she made arrangements to meet one of the suspects in her apartment but when he arrived, he maced her and threw her on the bed. Police said that the two other suspects then arrived at the apartment and tied up the victim. They allegedly raped her and stole her phone, laptop and bracelet.

She was taken to the hospital for treatment and has since been released.

The first incident occurred at a building on East 138th Street in the South Bronx on Sunday, June 28 at 11:50 p.m. Police said that the victim, a 20-year-old woman, had made arrangements to meet one of the suspects. He showed up with another one of the suspects and the two men forced her to the roof of the building, where they raped her and took her money. The victim was taken to Lincoln Hospital where she was treated and released.

In the second incident, a 34-year-old woman made arrangements to meet one of the suspects at the Grand Hyatt Hotel at 109 East 42nd Street last Monday at 4:25 p.m. When the suspect arrived to the room, police said that he sprayed the victim in the face with an unknown substance and threw her on the bed. The other two suspects then entered the room and all three men tied the victim up. Police said that all three suspects raped her and stole her cell phone and purse.

The woman was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where she was treated and released.

Neighbors of shelter say homeless men have gotten out of control

Homeless men congregate in front of a residential building across the street from the shelter, where neighbors say the men pandhandle, fight, urinate and occasionally worse.

Homeless men congregate in front of a residential building across the street from the shelter, where neighbors say the men panhandle, fight, urinate and occasionally worse.

By Sabina Mollot

For the Kips Bay residents whose homes are near the men’s homeless shelter on First Avenue and 30th Street, concerns over safety and quality of life didn’t begin in April after a rape at a local bar, which was allegedly committed by one of the shelter’s residents.

A few neighbors who were interviewed by Town & Village recently said they’ve had to alter their daily routines for years now in an attempt to avoid the homeless men, who’ve become a near-constant presence on the sidewalks, loitering, fighting, panhandling and using phone booths on the corners as a toilet as well as a spot to do drugs.

Residents have also reported being harassed and an increase in aggressive behavior. In May, a coalition of fed up neighbors who live the shelter started a petition aimed at reducing the number of beds at the shelter to about 250. Currently there are 850 and the shelter, at Bellevue’s “Old Psych” unit, is running at full capacity.

Other requested changes include forbidding any man who’s been charged with a sexual offense or other violent crimes to stay there, and closing the loophole in the law that allowed those men to stay there in the first place.

While all the sex offenders who’d been staying at the shelter were relocated after the rape at Turnmill bar on East 27th Street, this isn’t necessarily permanent. State law dictates that sex offenders can’t be within 1,000 feet of a school. However, this only applies to sex offenders who are out on parole or probation, so the Department of Homeless Services, which runs the shelter, has been in compliance.

The neighbors, meanwhile, said they also want to see the closure of the shelter’s Mainchance Intake Center located on East 32nd Street, blasting it in the petition as poorly run and having no regard for the community. It now has over 1,300 signatures. Though it’s not mentioned in the petition, area residents as well as the superintendent/resident manager of a building across First Avenue from the shelter, Antonio Rodriguez, have indicated they’d also be thrilled if the city got rid of the phone booths along the avenue.

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Man rapes woman at bar on East 27th Street

Police are on the lookout for a man wanted for rape at Turnmill, a bar at 119 East 27th Street.

On Saturday, April 11, 7:45 p.m. the suspect grabbed a 23-year-old-woman by the throat and raped her inside of a stall in the women’s bathroom.

After the attack, the suspect fled the scene and the victim was taken to Lenox Hill Healthplex Hospital for treatment and evaluation.

The suspect is described as a white, 45-55 years-old, 5’8″-5’10” and 150-175 pounds with brown hair. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black shirt and black framed glasses.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.

The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.