Police Blotter, Week of Sept. 6, 2012

Soho vendors and their attorney from the Urban Justice Center’s Street Vendor Project held a press conference outside the First Precinct on Wednesday. Photo courtesy Urban Justice Center

Soho vendors sue police
Five Soho street vendors are suing the New York Police Department’s First Precinct, claiming that officers unlawfully confiscated their carts and merchandise during a May 17 raid.

Matthew Shapiro, a staff attorney for the Street Vendor Project at the Lower Manhattan-based Urban Justice Center, announced on Wed., Sept. 5, that the vendors would be filing the suit — for lost income and missing or damaged property — later that day.

The vendors say that during the crackdown, officers ticketed them for minor infractions —such as their carts being too close to the curb or too tall — and then took away their property, carts and all, without proper explanation.

The violations against the five vendors were all dismissed on May 18, the next day, when they went to court to argue the tickets. The merchandise and carts were returned, but some items were missing or damaged.

Shapiro stressed that the lawsuit would be aimed not at the officers who were ordered to confiscate the vendors’ goods, but instead at police brass who authorized the raid.

One of the vendors in the suit, Alassane Fall, 53, who sells cell phone accessories on Broadway, between Spring and Prince Sts., said he is mainly focused on sending a message to the N.Y.P.D.

“I’m not suing for the money,” he said. “I just want to be treated as an equal.”

Realty-show wife walks
Criminal charges have been dropped against a reality TV star who was accused of slashing a Soho nightclub bouncer with a razor in January 2011, the New York Post reported.

Rashidah Ali, 27, who has appeared on “Basketball Wives” and “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” walked free on Tues., Sept. 4, after a grand jury declined to indict her and prosecutors decided to drop the case.

But Ali isn’t completely off the hook yet, since she’s still facing a grand larceny charge dating to November 2010: She’s accused of racking up a $14,000 bill at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, on Central Park South, and then walking out without paying, according to court records.

Lacoste break-in
Three men burglarized an upscale Soho clothing store early on the morning of Tues., Sept. 4, and made off with around $18,000 worth of merchandise, police said.

The suspects, one of whom wielded a sledgehammer, broke through the glass storefront of the Lacoste outlet at 134 Prince St. at around 2 a.m. They fled in a minivan after grabbing the clothes, according to the report, and a store employee reported the theft upon arriving for work later that morning.

Police believe that the getaway vehicle was a Chrysler Town & Country, but the license plate number is unknown.

Killer driver gets tickets
The driver of the truck that fatally struck longtime Soho resident Jessica Dworkin on Mon., Aug. 27, has been slapped with two traffic summonses, police said.

Greg Smith, an employee of the Trenton, N.J., company Liedtka Trucking, Inc., was charged on Wed., Aug. 29, with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.

Dworkin, 58, a much-loved neighborhood figure, had been riding her cherished kick scooter across Sixth Ave. at West Houston St. just before 9 a.m. on Aug. 27, when she was hit by the the flatbed trailer as it was turning onto Sixth Ave. Dworkin’s body was dragged under one of the truck’s rear tires for about two blocks — the driver reached Carmine St. before realizing the situation. It was determined that she had been killed immediately in the accident.

 Arsonist confesses
The man arrested for setting fire to his own West Village home on Sat., Aug. 25, has admitted to the crime, and is being hit with several other felony charges in addition to arson.

Morgan Greenburger, 19, kindled the blaze by placing bed sheets and garbage bags on the lit stove in his third-floor apartment at 525 Hudson St., court records state. A portion of his residence had been charred by the time the fire was put out, and there was also smoke and water damage.

Greenburger told police he intended to start the fire, even though he was aware that other people were inside the building at that time, according to court documents. He is charged with three counts of arson, two counts of reckless endangerment and reckless endangerment of property.

His next court date is set for Oct. 3.

L.E.S. club rape
Police arrested Omar Ocasio, 21, for sexually assaulting a woman in a Lower East Side nightclub on Sun., Aug. 26.

Ocasio allegedly accosted a 20-year-old woman in Neway, at 90 Eldridge St., at about 4 a.m. and threatened her while clamping his hand over her mouth, according to court documents. He told the woman that he would kill her if she screamed, and then raped her.

The victim reported the incident to police after checking in to a hospital immediately after the incident, and Ocasio was arrested while still at the club. He is being charged with rape and committing a criminal sex act.

Police released this photo of the bank robber.

E.V. bank robber
Police are still on the hunt for a man who robbed an East Village bank on Sat., Aug. 25.

The suspect, who was wearing sunglasses, entered the Chase Bank at E. 10th St. and Second Ave. at around 12:30 p.m. He approached a teller, passed a demand note, took the cash and fled on foot, police said.

He was described as either white or Hispanic, between ages 20 and 30, about 200 pounds and 5 feet 10 inches tall. The suspect was carrying a black Pullman suitcase, the report states.

Anyone with information regarding the robbery should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

–  Sam Spokony

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