Murder at Bayswater Park

After a Shotspotter machine reported shots fired nearby Bayswater Park (top left), police found an unidentified dead man.

On Saturday, April 22, at 11:15 p.m., police responded to a call from a shotspotter in Bayswater Park at Bay 32 Street and Beach Channel Drive in Bayswater,

Responding officers found an unidentified man, unconscious and unresponsive with gunshot wounds to his head and torso.

EMS responded and declared the man dead on the scene. A level one mobilization was called, bringing police officers  from the department’s Strategic Response Unit as well as other specialized units to the scene.

This was the second homicide in the 101 Precinct this year, up from one at this time last year. The victim is the third shooting victim of the year, down from six at this time last year. Police statistics show that crime is down by 14 percent in the 101 Precinct this year.

Detectives from the 101 Precinct Squad and the Queens Major Crime Squad are investigating.

 

 

Far Rockaway rabbi pleads guilty to $5 mil education fraud

District Attorney Richard Brown said that the fraud was committed at this building at 1854 Cornaga Avenue in Far Rockaway.

Rabbi Samuel Hiller is walked out of court by a detective from the DA’s Squad after his arraignment. If he pays the court-mandated restitution, he will serve only a short sentence.

A Far Rockaway Orthodox Rabbi has pled guilty to stealing $5 million in city and state funding that was intended for special needs students between the ages of three and five.

 Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, joined by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, has announced that Rabbi Samuel Hiller, the former assistant director of Island Child Development Center, once one of the City’s largest providers of special education services to preschoolers with disabilities pled guilty to the charges in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday.

Island Child Development Center (ICDC), a private not-for-profit company that is now defunct, was located at 1854 Cornaga Avenue in Far Rockaway, and primarily provided services to pre-school children in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Far Rockaway in Queens and Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn.

     District Attorney Brown said, “The public funds provided to Island Child Development Center were earmarked for special needs preschoolers with disabilities.  Instead, the defendant chose to divert millions of these funds for his own purposes.  While it is disheartening to see a betrayal of the public trust of such magnitude as exposed here, those who engage in frauds of this nature will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions.”

     Comptroller DiNapoli said, “Stealing from the public is bad enough, but exploiting small children to pay your plumber and support your for-profit camps, is reprehensible. I thank District Attorney Brown for partnering with my office in the fight to end special education fraud in New York State.”

Brown identified the defendant as Rabbi Samuel Hiller, 59, of Far Rockaway. Hiller appeared before Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas and pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny.  Additionally, Hiller will forfeit approximately $1 million in seized assets, sign a confession of judgment for an additional $3 million, pay an additional $1 million in restitution at the time of sentencing, June 15, 2017, and make a full and truthful completion of a “Statement of Financial Condition.”

     District Attorney Brown said that Hiller is expected to be sentenced to one to three years in prison. However, if he fails to pay the full additional $1 million in restitution at sentencing, he will be immediately sentenced to two to six years in prison. Similarly, if any falsehood is found on his Statement of Financial Condition, he will be immediately sentenced to two to six years of incarceration.

     Hiller and his three co-defendants – Ira Kurman, 54, of Hewlett, Roy Hoffmann, 53, of Woodmere, and Daniel Laniado, 44, of Brooklyn – were indicted on the alleged thefts in 2014. All were accused of illegally diverting more than $12 million of the $27 million ICDC received in state funding to their relatives, their for-profit businesses and for personal expenses including jewelry, a family wedding and home renovations. 

     Kurman had been the former Executive Director of ICDC; Roy Hoffmann had been hired by ICDC to serve as its independent auditor as required by the State; and Daniel Laniado, while not employed by ICDC, was a self-described “investor” in ICDC.

     Kurman and Hoffman, who previously pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny for their roles in the scheme, are awaiting sentencing, which will include making restitution.  The case against Laniado is presently pending in court.

     District Attorney Brown pointed out that New York State’s Education Law requires that the State Education Department meet the physical and educational needs of children with disabilities. Additionally, within the City of New York, the Department of Education contracts with private service providers to deliver services for those who require them, including Special Education Itinerant Teachers (SEIT) who provide education services in children’s homes and other venues.

     The thefts were discovered after the Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli notified ICDC and specifically, Ira Kurman, that it planned to conduct a routine audit of SEIT funds provided to ICDC. When state auditors arrived for the meeting, in July 2012, they were informed that Kurman had left his position and had taken his books and records with him. After further investigation, the auditors referred the case to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

The contentious issue of parking in Rockaway once again rears its ugly head

One of the slides from the DOT’s presentation to the community board shows the availability of increased parking on Shore Front Parkway, but many locals are opposed to the new plan.

Albert Silvestri, the Queens Deputy Commissioner for the DOT, explains the new plan to the community board and about 50 locals who attended the meeting. Most of those present oppose the plan for increased parking on Shore Front Parkway.

John Cori, the president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, detailed his opposition to the plan and called for a public hearing on the issue.

About 50 locals listened to the debate about increased parking on Shore Front Parkway.

Parking has been a contentious issue on the Rockaway peninsula since the first Model-T Fords hit the summer resort area.

It continues apace today. Witness the meeting of Community Board 14 at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Wednesday night.

On the agenda was a plan put forth by the city’s Department of Transportation to redo Shore Front Parkway along its entire length, from Beach 73 Street to Beach 108 Street, including new “calming” methods, new “enhanced” crosswalks, new line painting and new medians at three locations that line up with the entrances to the high-rise that came after Robert Moses originally built the road as a tie between the Belt Parkway and Southern State Parkway in Nassau.

And, it included an apparently divisive and controversial plan to place new parking spaces on the southern side of the road.

The plan, particularly the parking plan, was attacked even before a DOT presentation to the board members and about 50 locals who came out to speak about the plan – mostly in opposition.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich spoke before the presentation.

“This plan needs more community input,” the Republican councilman said. “The plan should be tabled for a few weeks so that the community can be heard and a compromise drawn that would allow for more parking while allowing for a better quality of life for those who live in proximity to Shore Front Parkway, those who live in the area. This plan should not be forced down their throats.”

John Cori, the president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, agreed. He presented a survey that had been taken on Tuesday night at an emergency meeting that indicated that the majority of those who live in the area are opposed to more parking on the south side of the road.

The tally against the parking plan at that meeting was 31-4, according to Cori. Of those living within a block of the parkway, the vote was 17 to 0 in opposition.

Cori charged the DOT with lying about its statistics during the presentation, which said that a number of locals indicated during an earlier focus group that they supported more parking.

 “Why didn’t you say in your presentation that more were opposed than in favor,” Cori asked.

Cori also charged that he was told by DOT officials that the community could get most of what they wanted only if parking meters were supported by the community.

“The DOT has been misleading the community,” Cori said. “They don’t understand that the restrictive parking regulations on the west end impact our community greatly. We need a public conversation on this plan – a public hearing.”

Cori made a motion to hold off the plan until such a public hearing could be made. The motion was seconded.

Eventually, after some discussion, the board voted to hold a transportation committee meeting open to the public and then bring the motion up to the board at a future meeting rather than holding a dedicated public hearing on the issue.

Albert Silvestri, the Queens Deputy Commissioner for the DOT told the meeting that a public dialogue was important and that one was taking place at the meeting.

“We have milled the parkway at your request,” he said and now it needs to be paved and marked. We need to have a marking plan and at least do some temporary marking as a safety issue. Holding it up complicates the process.”

Silvestri told the board that none of the important issues, such as redoing the critical crossings and aligning the openings in the central mall could be done until the plan is approved.

One board member told Cori that he was opening a can of worms by postponing the process.

“I know exactly what I am asking for,” Cori answered angrily.

Other board members challenged the DOT on the remainder of the presentation.

Casey Gorrell, the DOT representative who did the presentation, for example, said that the agency’s studies showed that the great majority of motorists who used the road drive above the speed limit and that called for further calming methods.

He said that many of the cars travelled at 27 to 30 miles per hour, five miles per hour above the speed limit.

Breezy Point resident Marty Ingram brought a laugh when he said that he was an aviation safety expert, and that he “could make aviation safer by keeping all of the planes on the ground,” adding that the speed test was done in the winter, when traffic is light and “everybody goes over the speed limit.”

Eddie Pastore said that he had put the question of parking on the south side of Shore Front Parkway on social media and that locals had “overwhelmingly” rejected the plan.

Phil McManus, speaking during the time for the public to present their ideas, said that Rockaway should say “no” to more bike lanes, speed bumps and reduced speed limits.

“Calming is another word for slowing us down, making it longer to get to work, to school and home,” he said. “We don’t need more bike lanes when there is a beautiful bike lane on the boardwalk adjacent to the roadway.

Another local said, “When I hear the DOT speak about speeding at 32-37 miles per hour, I am appalled.”

He got cheers from the board.

A third said that parking would be beneficial to the community.

“About 100 days a year, outsiders would use the spots,” he said. “The rest of the year, those spots would be available for locals. We can always use more parking in Rockaway.”

No date has yet been set for the transportation committee meeting.

 

 

Man slashed on Beach 90 Street subway platform

Police officials check Beach 90 Street subway station for clues after a slashing incident that followed an argument.

A man was slashed while standing on the Beach 90 Street subway platform in Rockaway Beach on Tuesday afternoon.

Police say that the attack happened at the “A” train platform around 4:30 p.m.

The 31-year-old victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital in serious but stable condition.

Authorities say the man was slashed in the face, arm and thigh after a dispute on the platform with another man.

Police are looking for the man, who was wearing a blue jacket with red sleeves, and woman that fled the scene after the slashing. The male suspect is apparently around 25 years old, sources say.

Two Far Rockaway men remain in critical condition after crash with 18-wheeler

The care in which the two men were riding was pinned under a large truck going to JFK Airport. Daily News photo.

The two men were transported to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition. Police say that one of the men may be brain-dead. Daily News Photo.

Two Far Rockaway men remain in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital after a crash between a car and a tractor-trailer nearby John F. Kennedy Airport on Monday night. Police say that one of the men had a massive head injury and may be brain-dad as a result of the crash. Police declined to provide the names of any of the victims.

Police say that the incident happened just after 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard and Brookville Boulevard in Rosedale.

Sources said that the two locals were in a 2014 Dodge Charger that was speeding westbound on Rockaway Boulevard when their vehicle struck an eastbound tractor-trailer making a left turn into Kennedy Airport’s Logistics Center on Rockaway Boulevard.

The car was crushed beneath the truck, as emergency crews raced to save the two men inside.

“The fire department tried to extricate the people from the car,” truck driver Mike Bogdan told the Daily News. “Chaotic scene. They broke the whole truck, the whole car, and then they pulled them off.”

The 23-year-old driver of the Dodge sustained head trauma and is in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital. His passenger, a 28-year-old man, is in critical but stable condition, police sources say.

A third vehicle, a 2016 Ford Expedition, was hit by flying debris.

The driver of the tractor-trailer and the 62-year-old driver of the Ford were uninjured.

 

 

 

 

Deadline nears to place mentally ill in community ‘supportive housing’

The Belle Harbor Manor on Beach 125 Street is one of 12 local adult homes that will see its population decrease as mentally ill residents are moved into “supportive living” apartments in the community under governor’s plan.

The Park Inn Home for Adults has been problematic for the Beach 116 Street shopping area. Plan will move mentally ill residents into community housing.

Four years ago, after more than a decade of litigation and negotiation, New York State officials agreed that the system of often dismal and dangerous adult homes was no place for the mentally ill.

State officials agreed to move as many as 4,000 mentally ill residents out of their apartments and into supportive housing, a hard-fought recognition that people with disabilities should have the opportunity to live independently and participate in all aspects of community life.

But as a July deadline nears, a federal judge has found that the state seems far from meeting its commitment: Fewer than 500 people have actually been moved into supportive housing from adult homes.

Many of those adult homes that dot the Rockaway peninsula and those local facilities would be forced to lower the number of its residents with “serious psychiatric disabilities” to 25 percent of its population.

In addition, hospitals with psychiatric units, such as St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Rockaway, would no longer be able to discharge patients to “transitional adult homes” such as the ones in Rockaway unless that home’s population of residents with serious psychiatric disabilities was under the 25 percent mandate.

A local resident intricately involved with the adult home industry in Rockaway, but who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said at the time that the new rules would mean a massive change for a number of Rockaway facilities because “75 to 80 percent of those in Rockaway homes fall into the category of “severely impaired.”

The new rules define a “transitional adult home” as one with more than 80 beds in which 25 percent of the residents have a psychiatric disability.”

There are 12 adult homes in Rockaway that fit that description, sources say.

Those homes were part of a lawsuit brought in 2008 by an advocacy group that argued “warehousing” the mentally ill in large adult homes violated their rights under the Constitution.

Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis agreed and ordered that residents of those 12 homes be moved into “assisted living” apartments and homes within the community.

Garaufis’ decision was overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals two years ago, however,

“What the governor is doing is honoring Garaufis’ ruling even though it was overturned by the Second Circuit,” the source said. “It will move into the community people who are not ready to live independently or to care for themselves.”

Mental Health advocates, however, said in a prepared statement, “These actions represent a major commitment to advancing the rights, choices and hopes of potentially thousands of adult home residents with psychiatric disabilities from across the state – not just in New York City – to live a full life in the community.”

The adult homes on the Rockaway peninsula that could be impacted by the new state regulations are the Belle Harbor Manor, New Gloria’s Manor Home for Adults, New Haven Manor, Park Inn Home for Adults, Rockaway Manor Home for Adults, Surfside Home for Adults, Central Assisted Living, LLC, Long Island Hebrew Living Center, Seaview Manor and Wavecrest Home for Adults

According to a recent New York Times article, judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York, found most troubling was the fact that the state appeared to be working with the adult home industry to undermine the settlement.

“I will not allow the kind of political, legal activity that is going on in this case behind my back and behind the backs of the plaintiffs to continue,” Judge Garaufis said at a recent hearing. “If I sound dramatic, it is because it is dramatic. It’s about them. It’s about 4,000 people.”

According to the Times, the Department of Health had quietly reached an agreement with home operators in state court that would have short-circuited the execution of the federal settlement — without ever informing the federal court.

“There’s some sort of a deal,” the judge said. “That’s how it appears. And we’re going to find out exactly what the deal is, because if there is a deal, I would consider it a fraud on the court.”

Adding to the chaos, the state attorney general’s office — the legal representative of the state — said it was unaware of the negotiations between the state and lawyers for the adult home industry “until it was well underway,” and asked last month to withdraw from the federal case, citing irreconcilable differences with its client, the state.

The highly unusual request was denied by Judge Garaufis, whose involvement in the case traces back to its beginnings.

The sprawling network of privately run and state-regulated adult homes in New York City — once considered a promising alternative to the bleak psychiatric wards that the state began closing in the 1960s — began to face increased scrutiny for a host of abuses. A 2002 investigation by The New York Times showed that many had “devolved into places of misery and neglect, just like the psychiatric institutions before them.”

Lawsuits were filed, and after years of court battles, the state reached a settlement that called for residents with mental illness to be moved out of the homes and into supportive housing and be given rental assistance and access to community-based services that promote their inclusion, independence and full participation in community life. The state was given five years to resettle 2,000 to 4,000 residents.

Last month, with the July deadline approaching, Judge Garaufis called all the parties into court for a hearing where, in blunt and caustic language, he warned that the state was “far from hitting its numbers.”

The state rejected the suggestion that it had done anything wrong.

“New York remains unequivocally committed to supporting adult home residents, which is why we are working tirelessly to meet the requirements of the settlement agreement,” the Department of Health wrote in a statement in response to a question.

Even before the hearing, however, advocates for the mentally ill said that the process for resettling residents was deeply flawed.

“The state’s system to help people move out of adult homes is not working,” Cliff Zucker, the general counsel for Disability Rights New York told the Times. “Transition to community living has moved at a snail’s pace, leaving residents confused and frustrated. This is largely because the state has insisted on an inordinately complex process.”

The state officials, however, said that the complex process was necessary in part to ensure that people who moved out of the homes were ready to live more independent lives without endangering themselves or others.

New names for boats, old problems for ferry service

Artist’s rendition of Beach 108 Street ferry landing. Service will begin May 1.

What would you name one of the new ferryboats coming into service on the Rockaway run next month?

How about if you were a second-grader.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation asked second grade classes – none of them in Rockaway – to come up with names and the first five are in.

Friendship Express, Sunset Crossing, Urban Journey, Waves of Wonder and Lunchbox. Those are the names. What else would you expect from a second grader, a seven-year-old?

Not a Rockaway-themed name in the mix.

The ferry service has far more problems than the names of the boats, locals say. First of all, parking at the former National Grid site across the street will cost $8 bucks a day, almost three times as much as the ferry ride will cost. Many locals believe that the cost is prohibitive, even when you factor in the fact that a monthly pass will cost $100 bucks, about four dollars a day on the average.

“The lot was free when the ferry ran two years ago,” said one Rockaway commuter who asked not to be named. “The cost is going to take lots of locals out of the game. Some will use the free shuttle bus, but many will decide to stick with the subway or the express bus instead. You can pick the express bus up on your corner and take it all the way into midtown for less money.”

In addition, opponents of the plan say, the parking lot will be open to all, not simply to the ferry riders. That will create a situation during the summer where motorists will park for the beach, closing the lot to ferry-riders.

The same problem exists with the shuttle buses, those opponents say. People will use the free shuttle buses to move around the peninsula, taking up vital seats that might have been used by ferry riders.

“They should make you buy a ferry ticket on the bus before you can get on board,” one local said on social media. “That way you can guarantee that the rider is going to the ferry and not just shopping on Beach 129 Street.”

The EDC has rejected that idea. Ferry tickets will be sold at the Beach 108 Street terminal.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced two weeks ago that Citywide Ferry Service, now officially named “NYC Ferry,” will be launching May 1st with two routes: the brand new Rockaway Route and the existing East River Route, both of which will cost just $2.75 a ride and include free transfers to other ferry routes. This puts NYC Ferry a full month ahead of schedule, with the system having initially been projected to launch in June of 2017.

Mayor de Blasio also announced that the South Brooklyn Route, with stops in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Red Hook and Brooklyn Bridge Park will begin service starting on June 1st. The Astoria Route will launch in August, with exact date still being determined, and the Lower East Side and Soundview Routes will be launching in 2018.

“Rockaway residents have some of the longest commute times in the city. We promised we’d bring them our new NYC Ferry service first, and today we’re delivering on that promise. Best of all, our first NYC Ferry will set sail May 1 – a full month ahead of schedule,” de Blasio said.

With 20 vessels operating at 22 landings across New York City, NYC Ferry will carry an estimated 4.6 million trips per year across six routes – providing a new and easily accessible transit option for traditionally underserved communities and where jobs and housing are growing rapidly. Several of those landings, including the Rockaways, are nearly complete. The first of the new vessels arrived in New York Harbor this week, with more boats scheduled to depart shipyards in Louisiana and Alabama in the coming weeks.

“We’re excited to introduce our new name, NYC Ferry, which complements our new vessels and exciting new connections in New York Harbor. The Rockaway Route and East River Route will launch May 1st,” said Cameron Clark, Senior Vice President for NYC Ferry, operated by Hornblower. “With regular, reliable service on our comfortable vessels, including world-class concessions, all at the same price as a single subway ride, NYC Ferry, operated by Hornblower, will be the newest and easiest way to “work, live, play” for millions of New Yorkers and visitors alike. Get out and explore your New York.”

“The NYC Ferry will provide fast and affordable transportation to tens of thousands of Queens residents,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Queens is pleased with the accelerated start date for the Rockaway route, which has long been underserved by traditional mass transit. The revised service hours are a direct result of the city’s consideration of the community’s significant input and insights on its needs. By this time next month, the future of transportation will be up and running.”

“We’re very excited that plans have come together to start ferry service earlier than expected,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich. “We’re especially thankful to hear the news that the EDC has been receptive to the concerns of my constituents with regard to scheduling an additional early trip which will allow so many hard working people in the construction trades the opportunity to use this service.”

“As Co-Chairs of Community Board 14 Transportation Committee, we are very pleased and excited that the Rockaway Ferry Service will be starting ahead of schedule,” said Danny Ruscillo and Marty Ingram, Co-Chairs of the CB 14 Transportation Committee. “This is a form of transportation which has always been needed, we are sure many will utilize this delightful form of transportation.”

“Our community is very appreciative of the efforts of Mayor de Blasio and the EDC in bringing ferry service to the Rockaways. We have always felt that our waterways were an untapped resource for transportation in New York City. In particular we are grateful that our concerns were heard and the first ferry will depart Rockaway at 5:30 a.m. enabling our trades workers and city employees to arrive in Manhattan for their 7:00am shifts. The ferry beginning on May 1st, a month earlier than scheduled, will give all New Yorkers the opportunity to experience the new ferry service,” said Dolores Orr, Chair of Community Board 14

Construction is currently underway on a homeport at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a 56,000-square-foot maintenance and storage facility that will include berthing space for 25 boats, supplies and parts, and utilities, including a 40,000-gallon diesel fueling system. It will provide routine maintenance including exterior and interior cleaning, restocking of food and beverage items, fueling and basic repairs. It will be fully outfitted by early 2018, enabling passenger service to an additional stop on the East River route between South Williamsburg and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The first boat is already en route for testing and is scheduled to arrive in April. City second-graders are diligently researching names for the new boats (in the running: “Lunchbox” and “Friendship Express”).

When service does launch, rides will cost $2.75, but fares won’t be integrated with the MTA’s fare payment model—meaning that riders won’t get a free transfer from boat to subway.

Each vessel will have free Wi-Fi, USB charging stations and a concession stand stocked with beer. The first phase of service will launch the Rockaway, Astoria and South Brooklyn routes.

The second phase will bring another two routes online, the Soundview and Lower East Side, and will launch in 2018.

  “We asked second graders from schools near Citywide Ferry landings to propose names for our new boats,” said EDC President James Patchett in a statement. “These are kids who have been studying New York civic history, so we got both some really cute and creative names—like Lunchbox and Friendship Express—and some ideas that reference the rich maritime history of our city. We’re very excited to finalize names and announce them soon.”

When service does launch, rides will cost $2.75, but fares won’t be integrated with the MTA’s fare payment model—meaning that riders won’t get a free transfer from boat to subway.

Each vessel will have free Wi-Fi, USB charging stations and a concession stand stocked with beer. The first phase of service will launch the Rockaway, Astoria and South Brooklyn routes. The second phase will bring another two routes online, the Soundview and Lower East Side, and will launch in 2018.

 

‘Flight 587 Down’ now active on all e-pub sites, including Amazon.com and iBook

Onrockaway.com editor Howard Schwach has penned a new, startling novel centering around the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 into the streets of Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001. Schwach, then the editor of The Wave, covered the crash and its aftermath, writing dozens of stories about the crash and its victims, including the stories of eyewitnesses who swore that the plane was on fire long before it hit the ground. Get access to the new e-Book on all platforms, including Amazon.com and iBook. 

Brothers busted for swordfight at Hammel Houses

Two brothers involved in a swordfight inside a Hammel Houses apartment on Thursday were busted and treated for their wounds.

It was a swordfight worthy of the movies, but cops arrested the brothers involved in the fight for stabbing each other with the large sword, law enforcement sources say.

Cops responding to a call at an apartment in the Hammel Houses on Rockaway Beach Boulevard at Beach 84 Street at about 9:50 a.m. on Thursday morning, found the two brothers, identified in court papers as Jamel Murreld, 34 and his brother, Justin, 23 both suffering from stab wounds.

While there was no official explanation for the sword fight, some locals said that the fight started as a lark and quickly became dangerous.

Jamel was stabbed in the back and his younger brother suffered a large wound over his left eye.

Both men were transported by EMS to Jamaica Hospital. They were treated for their wounds and then transported to Queens Central Booking, where they are awaiting arraignment on charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

Police officials said that they recovered the large, bloody sword in the apartment.

 

Crime up in Rockaway public housing; DOI says may be problem of not excluding felons and their families

This interactive map included in the Department of Investigations report, shows a few of the criminal incidents in Rockaway over a short reporting period. NYPD statistics show that crime in the housing projects in the 101 Precinct is up 140 percent over last year.

Several shots were fired at this single-building city housing project at 71-15 Beach Channel Drive early Sunday morning.

Rockaway residents have known for decades that a large chunk of crime on the peninsula has its nexus in the several public housing complexes that dot the landscape.

Statistics show that fact remains true into today. Crime in and around the local housing projects in the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway is up 140 percent this year over last year and shooting incidents in the precinct are up 100 percent. Crime in the housing projects in the neighboring 100 Precinct remain static from last year.

According to the report, the city’s 328 public housing projects shoulder a disproportionate share of crime. While overall crime fell 4 percent citywide last year, it rose 2 percent in NYCHA developments. DOI noted that 25 percent of all rapes reported in New York City and 33 percent of all shootings occur within 500 feet of a NYCHA development.

The record is worse in Rockaway. A study done by a local newspaper three years ago showed that fully 80 percent of all shooting incidents in Rockaway occurred within a half-mile of a public housing complex.

A recent report from the city’s Department of Investigation shows that the problem is citywide. According to the report, released on Tuesday, the Housing Authority is asleep at the switch when it comes to evicting tenants who commit serious crimes on NYCHA grounds.

The Housing Authority has legal the right to bounce tenants if they or their children are charged with committing drug and violent crimes either on or near NYCHA property, but Mayor Bill de Blasio and a city council group have been fighting to change that law, reducing the right to evict violent tenants and their family members..

“NYCHA continues to allow criminals including gang members, drug traffickers and violent offenders to reside in public housing,” the report states. “NYCHA often failed to take steps to remove criminal offenders from public housing and protect the overwhelming majority of law-abiding residents.”

The report said that NYCHA often won’t evict the tenant of record, instead choosing to exclude only the person charged. But DOI found the excluded felons often return and live openly in units from which they are allegedly barred.

There they commit even more crimes without fear of eviction, according to DOI Commissioner Mark Peters.

In response, Jean Weinberg, spokeswoman for NYCHA, said the agency “works closely in partnership with the NYPD to ensure public housing residents have safe, stable homes” and noted that some of DOI’s reform recommendations “highlight the progress we’ve made in improving communication between our two agencies.”

The biggest problem centered on NYCHA’s tendency to try and exclude the charged criminal instead of evicting the tenant of record. That allows these “permanently excluded” to return and live openly in NYCHA apartments, DOI found.

“NYCHA overlooks even blatant and repeated violations of permanent exclusion,” the report found.

Opponents of the exclusion program, however, say that excluding family members of the person accused or convicted of a crime is not fair and exacerbates the homeless problem, forcing law-abiding tenants related to felons out of their homes even though they have never committed a crime.

 

 

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