Volume 75, Number 25 | November 09 -15, 2005

Police Blotter

Seek rape suspect
Police yesterday were still seeking Peter Braunstein, 41, a contributing writer for Women’s Wear Daily and the Village Voice, who is suspected of gaining access to a woman’s Chelsea apartment disguised as a firefighter on Halloween night and subjecting her to 12 hours of sexual assault.

The incident began at about 6 p.m. Oct. 31 when Braunstein is believed to have set off smoke bombs or two small fires outside the victim’s W. 24th apartment and entered after saying he was investigating fire evidence. He was wearing a fire helmet, gas mask, waterproof coat and boots, and bound the victim, 34, as soon as he entered, according to reports.

The victim told police she didn’t recognize her attacker but he is believed to have met her when both were working for a magazine. The intruder, who apparently left about 6 a.m. the following day, also forced the victim to try on several pairs of her shoes during her ordeal, according to reports.

The suspect was also identified as the man who registered at a Midtown hotel and stayed the night about 12 hours after the attack. Authorities said they feared that Braunstein, convicted last July of harassing his former girlfriend in 2002, was capable of more violence. The ex-girlfriend has gone into hiding, fearing an attack.


Village bias assault
Police arrested two men on Sunday in connection with the beating of a bartender shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Sat. Nov. 5 at the corner of Grove St. and Waverly Pl. as the victim was leaving The Monster Bar where he worked.

The victim, Kyle Spidle, 25, told police he was crossing Waverly Pl. when a black Acura lurched into the crosswalk and he hit the hood with the palm of his hand. The occupants of the car shouted anti-gay epithets and one of them got out and began beating the victim, who was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital with a broken jaw, nose and cheekbone and fractures around his right eye.

A witness wrote down the car license plate number and told police, who arrested Victor Rodriguez, 38, a Department of Sanitation employee who lives on E. 104th St., and Francis Brand, 27, of Brooklyn. Rodriguez was charged with beating the victim and police are seeking a third suspect, the driver. The case is being prosecuted as a bias crime, police said.


Brodeur busted, again
Detectives from the Manhattan district attorney’s detective squad arrested Christopher Brodeur, 38, on Wednesday morning Nov. 2 at his home at 77 Allen St. on an aggravated harassment complaint filed by a reporter, police said. The plaintiff charged that Brodeur made repeated phone calls threatening physical harm.

According to the district attorney’s office, Brodeur repeatedly called and left threatening and harassing voice mails and e-mails at the workplace of Ben Smith, a New York Observer reporter.

According to the complaint, around 8 p.m. on Oct. 24, Brodeur left a message for Smith, stating, in part: “Ben, I have no problem punching your face in. Believe me, I would be a hero like Bernard Goetz. I could shoot you in the f—-ing face, I’d be a hero like Bernard Goetz. I could tomorrow wait outside your work, smash your skull in with a baseball bat…. Cut the s—t, Ben, because I don’t want you to be my case study. Stop for a moment and use your tiny f—-ing head. You have everything to lose. I have everything to gain. I could be the next Bernie Goetz of this city. Is this what you want, Ben? Cut the s—t and I’ll see you soon, buddy.”


Carbon monoxide
A defective hot water heater in the basement of a tenement at 20 Mulberry St. at Park Row resulted in a carbon monoxide emergency at 1:45 a.m. Wed. Nov. 2, according to Captain William Matusiak, commanding officer of the Fifth Precinct. A Con Edison crew, firefighters and an Emergency Medical Service team responded. The building was evacuated and 11 residents were treated at the scene. Two people were taken to New York Downtown Hospital for treatment. Residents returned to their apartments at 3:40 a.m. Wednesday, Matusiak said.


Wild ride
Police arrested Eugene Scharf, 26, a probationary firefighter on Friday morning, Nov. 4 and charged him with driving a stolen truck, crashing into a truck parked at 14th St. at Seventh Ave., and speeding west where he crashed into a building at 347 W. 14th St. at Ninth Ave. at 6 a.m.

The truck had been reported stolen at 5:25 a.m. Friday from W. 40th St. at 10th Ave., police said. Scharf was arrested a block south of the final crash and charged with reckless endangerment, possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a weapon, a knife, police said.


Arrest after struggle
Housing police who were seeking a man wanted on a federal arrest warrant in the LaGuardia Houses at 45 Rutgers St. during the early hours of Thurs. Nov. 3 found him shortly before 6 a.m. in the lobby of the building with a handgun stuck in his waistband, police said. The suspect struggled with one of the officers, took his gun and fled, leaving the cop with facial wounds, police said. However, they later found the officer’s gun on the LaGuardia grounds and arrested the suspect, Benjamin Garcia, 31, of 45 Rutgers St. at 9 a.m.


Chelsea rape trial
Fletcher Worrell, 58, whose trial in the 1973 rape of a Chelsea woman in her apartment on W. 21st St. ended in a hung jury more than 30 years ago, went on trial for the crime again last week after his arrest in the Washington, D.C., area.

Tried the first time under the name of Clarence Williams, he fled before a retrial began and had spent from 1985 to 1987 in a mental institution after sex-related charges in the D.C. area. Arrested again for rape in Silver Spring, Md., he was identified as the suspect in the old Chelsea rape when cold case detectives found the 1973 victim’s underwear in a police properties drawer and a new DNA test matched with Worrell’s.

A DNA expert testified on Mon. Nov. 7 that the chance of the DNA belonging to someone other than Worrell was one in a trillion. The trial is to continue on Wednesday.


Subway murder trial
Elio Cruz, charged with shooting his wife’s lover to death in the Seventh Ave. subway station at 18th St. last Feb. 19, testified at his trial on Mon. Nov. 7 that he had followed his wife and the victim, German Cabrera, down to Chelsea from Washington Heights that day but did not shoot the victim. The trial continues on Wednesday.


Chelsea fire
Fire on the fourth floor of a five-story parking garage on W. 15th St. between Ninth and Tenth Aves. on Wednesday morning Nov. 2 brought 200 firefighters to the scene where part of a ceiling collapsed and auto gas tanks exploded sending a pall of acrid black smoke across the breadth of Manhattan.

Because of the explosion dangers, firefighters had to fight the four-alarm blaze mostly from the exterior from 14th St., where Gansevoort Market traffic was stopped and trendy shops were unable to open until late afternoon.

The fire, reported at 7:30 a.m., was not under control until after 1 p.m., fire officials said. Six firefighters were slightly injured at the site, which is across the street from the Chelsea Market building.


Albert Amateau

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