Volume 74, Number 3 | June 8- 14, 2005

Police Blotter

Fulton Houses homicide
Police responding to a report of gunfire at 420 W. 19th St. in the Robert Fulton Houses at 8:47 p.m. Sun., June 5, found the victim lying face up in the elevator with several bullet wounds to his torso. Johnny Rodriguez, 22, a resident of 420 W. 26th St., in the Elliott Chelsea Houses, was declared dead at the scene.

The following day, 10th Precinct detectives arrested Michael Rodriguez, 25, of 509 W. 176th St., no relation to the victim, and charged him with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting. Neighbors who witnessed an argument between the two men on Sat., June 5, had identified the suspect, police said. Police said they did not know the cause of the dispute.


Essex St. robbers
Two men entered a video store at 119 Essex St. between Delancey and Rivington Sts. at 2:30 a.m. on May 16, tied up two employees and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, police said. One of the robbers was described as a black man between 25 and 30, 6 feet tall, weighing 240 pounds, wearing a dark jeans suit, white T-shirt and black doo-rag. The other was described as a Hispanic man between 20 and 25, 6 feet tall, weighing 170 pounds and wearing a blue Yankees baseball cap and a gray Yankees jersey.


Arrest in Village rapes
A grand jury indicted Leroy Johnson on June 2 for the knifepoint rape, sodomy, robbery and burglary of two Village women more than eight years ago after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Cold Case Squad used new techniques to determine the DNA of the suspect.

The indictment says Johnson grabbed one of the victims as she was opening the door to her Waverly Pl. apartment at about 5:15 p.m. Nov. 18, 1996, put a knife to her throat and forced her inside where her roommate was watching television. He demanded money and jewelry, forced one victim to tie and blindfold the other and then tied and blindfolded the first victim.

He raped and sodomized both in succession and threatened to return and kill both if they called police. He made his getaway after gathering material that would have shown DNA, including used condoms, towels, bedclothes and underwear.

Johnson cut their telephone lines, but the victims managed to free each other, found a phone still working that he had missed and called police. Using testing techniques available at the time, police were unable to secure a DNA profile. However, the Cold Case Squad took up the investigation in fall 2004 using new techniques and were able to match DNA at the scene with Johnson.

A not-guilty plea was entered last week and Johnson is being held without bail for a July 12 court appearance.

District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau last week also announced that he was proposing a predatory sexual assault statute that would increase penalties for “the most heinous of sexual assaults.”


Fake badge
Dr. Frank Bassett, an allergist with an office near Union Sq., was arrested June 4 with eight other suspects in connection with a group whose members are charged with carrying bogus police badges and fraudulent documents, police said.

Bassett is charged with posting parking placards in his car that looked like those issued by the Police Department and with using false identification as a police surgeon as a member of Kings County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has filed to disband the society for misrepresenting itself as a police agency. Several retired police officers in the society were also arrested for false police identification, according to a Daily News article.


Actor connects with phone
Russell Crowe, 41, the Australian star in town to promote his latest film, “Cinderella Man,” about former heavyweight champion James Braddock, was arrested at 4:21 a.m. on June 6 in the Mercer Hotel in Soho after throwing a telephone at a desk clerk, police said.

The clerk, Nestor Estrada, 28 of Greenpoint, sustained a welt over his eye that did not require stitches, police said.

Police who were called by management to the hotel at 99 Prince St. found Crowe waiting for them in the lobby and described him as “sober and cooperative.” He acknowledged throwing the phone, which he had brought to the lobby from his $3,000-a-night suite because he was unable to use it to call his wife, Danielle Spencer, in Australia, police said.

By the time he was taken to the First Precinct lockup at 5:20 a.m., a horde of reporters and photographers had gathered at the stationhouse, where his lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, failed to get him released with a desk appearance ticket.

Crowe told reporters he didn’t mean to hit Estrada, but only wanted to get a phone that worked. Police agreed to expedite his processing and took him to Criminal Court at 11:20 a.m. where he was charged with second-degree assault and possession of a weapon — the phone.


Manhole covers blow
A fire in Con Edison cables under Clinton and Delancey Sts. between 7:30 and 8 p.m. on Sat., June 4, blew three manhole covers into the air and slightly injured a Con Edison worker.

High concentrations of carbon monoxide caused the Fire Department to order the evacuation of a restaurant at 50 Clinton St. between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. The Con Edison worker was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital where he was treated and released, said Chris Olert, a Con Edison spokesperson.

Two of the manhole covers blew up on Clinton between Stanton and Rivington Sts., and another, in front of 167 Rivington St., “shattered like shrapnel,” according to Clayton Patterson, an Essex St. gallery owner and photographer.

Police closed Clinton St. between Delancey and Stanton Sts. and Rivington St. between Allen and Suffolk Sts. for several hours. However, there was no power outage, Olert said.

Albert Amateau

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