Author Archives: TheForum

Seven Charged with Marketing $2.2 Million Worth of Fake Designer Goods

Seven Queens residents last week were charged with trademark counterfeiting, and more than $2.2 million worth of fake designer handbags, gloves, wallets, watches and other items bearing the logos of various designers—including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Prada—were seized from various storage locations from which the defendants allegedly operated, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Naqing Zhang, 31, and his wife, Wei Wei Dong, 32, of Willets Point; Chin Chu, 43, and his wife, Jian Xia, 38, of Flushing; … Continue reading

Rookie Cop Charged with Cashing $7,000 in Stolen Checks

A rookie city Police Department officer moonlighting as a part-time Flushing paint store employee was charged last week with cashing two checks in September from a business sharing building space with the store and pocketing nearly $7,000, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Gerardo Laera, 24, a borough resident who was assigned to the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn, was released on his own recognizance last Friday after being arraigned on charges of third- and fourth-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal … Continue reading

Jamaica Avenue Trolley is a Sign of the Season

Mailboxes brimming with greeting cards; festive lights adorning apartment buildings and houses from Laurelton to Little Neck; Addabbo as Santa; a seemingly endless string of parties… And the Jamaica Avenue trolley. It must be holiday time in Queens. A seasonal staple, the free trolley offered shoppers a chance to rest their weary feet last Sunday afternoon, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and step back into another era of transportation as they visited the small businesses along jam-packed Jamaica Avenue. … Continue reading

Civic Celebrates Holidays and Looks Back on Eventful Year

With an eye on an eventful 2014, and the other on the coming year, the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association last Saturday held its annual holiday celebration at Emanuel United Church of Christ on 91st Avenue. The active area civic organization received season’s greetings from U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan) and took time to reflect on a busy year full of advocacy, causes and contributions. “[We] had yet another productive year in 2014,” said WRBA Communications Director Alex … Continue reading

MTA Honors Transit Workers for Acts of Bravery and Excellence

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority last Friday honored 30 New York City Transit workers—including four who call Queens home—with medals and commendations at its annual ceremony recognizing employees for their acts of bravery and distinguished service that showed how they performed above and beyond their duties to help customers, their colleagues or the public. The four borough residents who received awards at the downtown Brooklyn fete for specific acts of bravery, quick thinking in potentially dangerous or fatal situations, and for … Continue reading

Graffiti Removal Initiative Declared Success

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and the Queens Economic Development Corporation this week touted the success of their joint graffiti removal initiative implemented this past October. For FY2015, Ulrich allotted $25,000 in discretionary funds to QEDC to eliminate graffiti at six major corridors:  Woodhaven Boulevard, Jamaica Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, 101st Avenue, Liberty Avenue, and Rockaway Boulevard. According the NYPD, graffiti complaints are on the rise in New York City.  There have already been over 4,000 complaints this year, up about … Continue reading

Former Correction Officer Convicted in Rikers Island Contraband Ring

A former city correction officer last week was convicted in federal court of bribery and narcotics offenses for his role in an inmate contraband distribution ring on Rikers Island, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara. Austin Romain, 32, of Brooklyn, was convicted on one count of honest services fraud, one count of bribery, and one count of conspiring to distribute marijuana. He was acquitted on one count that alleged he had distributed … Continue reading

City Implements Ban of E-Waste Disposal

Beginning in January 2015, it will be unlawful to use curbside trash collection as a means to dispose of certain electronic equipment by any individual or household.  This is the third and final phase of the NY State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act law, governing annual statewide recycling starting in 2011. The law covers electronic items including but not limited to: computers, e-readers, televisions, printers, VCRs, DVRs, DVD players, video game consoles, and portable MP3 players.  Those who violate … Continue reading

De Blasio Appoints City’s First Female Chief Medical Examiner

She’s a pioneering forensic pathologist. Mayor Bill de Blasio last week appointed Dr. Barbara Sampson the city’s chief medical examiner, the first female head ME in the agency’s history. Sampson has been the acting chief medical examiner since Dr. Charles Hirsch, who was appointed by then-Mayor Ed Koch in 1989, stepped down early last year. Widely considered an expert in forensic pathology, Sampson has served the OCME in a variety of roles over the past 16 years, including first deputy … Continue reading

Expert: Juvenile Justice Report Will Spur Reform at Rikers Island

Perhaps Mark Soler has a future in soothsaying. The executive director with the Center for Children’s Law and Policy last week said that a bombshell summer report by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on juvenile justice on Rikers Island would spur real reform at the nation’s largest jail system. On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte announced the end of punitive segregation for adolescents in city jails. As of Dec. 4, the DOC had … Continue reading

Jamaica Man Hit with Seven Indictments for Selling Stolen Cars, Weapons and Drugs Online

A Jamaica man this week remained on Rikers Island on $1.75 million bail after he was arraigned last Wednesday on seven indictments charging him with criminal possession of stolen property, insurance fraud, criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of marijuana, criminal sale of marijuana and other charges, for allegedly selling stolen vehicles, weapons and marijuana over the Internet. Six other individuals, including three borough residents, were also indicted for their alleged participation in the overall scheme, according to Queens District … Continue reading

Parks Department Program Brings Trees to CB 10 Neighborhoods

Crews from a tree-removal and planting company contracted by the city Department of Parks and Recreation last week turned out in several Community Board 10 neighborhoods to prune and plant trees as part of the Remove and Replant and MillionTreesNYC programs. A dozen trees, including swamp white oaks and Japanese lilacs, were planted on The Forum’s Howard Beach block alone. Crews could be seen last Friday afternoon on 156th and 155th avenues and various side blocks, including Killarney, Lahn and … Continue reading

Cop of the Month Thwarts Thief, Gets Gun off 106th Precinct Streets

With one arrest, the 106th Precinct Cop of the Month for November stopped a robbery in progress and took an illegal handgun off the street. According to Dep. Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, the commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, veteran Police Officer Andres Gonzalez and Sgt. Joseph Mascia were in plainclothes, working Anticrime in an unmarked vehicle when the radio chirped about a 911 call regarding a possible burglary at a private residence on Lefferts Boulevard. Gonzalez and Mascia responded to … Continue reading

Mayor Signs Bills into Law

Mayor Bill de Blasio last week signed into law Intro 361-A, in relation to shelter eligibility, Intros 493-A, in relation to voter registration, and Intro 216-B, in relation to accessible pedestrian signals. Intro 361-A requires the Department of Homeless Services to grant a presumption of eligibility for applicants to the shelter systems who are exiting Human Resources Administration domestic violence shelters.  The legislation allows, by granting a presumption of eligibility, a smoother and quicker transition to permanent housing for New … Continue reading

Dangerous Distraction

Is anyone else finding it a shame that the NYPD is marking another year of record low crime rates – particularly in the area of robberies, which are down another 15 percent from last year’s already-low numbers – and yet, the Eric Garner controversy, the stance of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and even some of the Mayor’s statements have increased divisiveness in what was already a fragile relationship between cops and the public? Both sides seem to have a legitimate … Continue reading