Volume 75, Number 4 | June 15- 21, 2005

Police Blotter

Soho student rampage
A group of students from Chelsea Vocational High School at 131 Sixth Ave. went on what was described as “a rampage” on Monday morning June 13, robbing a Thompson St. convenience store, beating two employees of another store and then stealing tools from a Parks Department truck parked at Vesuvio Playground and running through the area until police came and arrested three of them.

The incident began shortly after 10 a.m. when the teenage male students went into the store between Broome and Spring Sts., harassed the employees and began grabbing merchandise from the shelves. They threatened to return and beat anyone who spoke to police, witnesses said.

Two employees from Porto Rico Importing, a retail coffee and tea shop across the street who came to help the convenience store clerks, were beaten and at least one of them was hospitalized with a broken nose.

When police arrived, about 30 youths were running on the tops of cars parked at the curb along Thompson St., according to Sean Sweeny, director of the Soho Alliance, a neighborhood civic organization. Students from the Soho School, who hail from all over the city, frequent Vesuvio Playground on Thompson and Spring Sts and have often disrupted the neighborhood, Sweeny said

City Councilmember Alan Jay Gerson, whose district includes part of the neighborhood, said on Tuesday that he had spoken to the First Precinct about maintaining a police presence in the neighborhood to prevent a repetition of the incident. “They promised to patrol the area with extra police and members of the Police Truancy Squad,” Gerson said.

“We had trouble there when I was on Community Board 2 [four years ago] but no violence until yesterday,” said Gerson, whose council district borders the east side of Thompson St. “I’ve spoken to [Councilmember] Christine Quinn whose district is on the west side of Thompson St. and we’re planning to meet with the principal of Chelsea Vocational and the First Precinct commanding officer,” Gerson said.

Gerson added that at the end of May, neighbors of Murry Bergtraum High School complained about rowdy students. The First Precinct responded by establishing a police presence in the neighborhood, Gerson recalled.

Captain Anthony Verone, recently appointed commanding officer of the precinct, was not available for comment by press time. None of the victims would comment on the incident. An employee of Porto Rico Importing said, “We have to live with these kids and we’re trying to keep things calm.”

Timothy Timberlake, principal of the school, did not return phone calls asking for comment on the situation.


Really in a pickle, now
Leonard F. Pickell, Jr., 50, who pleaded guilty in January to stealing $800,000 from the James Beard Foundation in the Village while he was the unpaid president of the culinary organization, was sentenced on June 13 to a prison term of from one to three years.

Pickell was charged by the state Attorney General’s office with writing fraudulent checks on foundation accounts, illegally taking money from petty cash and submitting fraudulent expense account vouchers.

As a result of the charges, the foundation, located at 167 W. 12th St. in the home of the late food and cooking expert, was restructured in April with a new board of directors and a paid executive team.


Cab broker fraud
Police investigators arrested Shimon Walkowicki, 50, owner of S & R Medalion, a taxi cab leasing company at 655 W. 21st St., and charged him with making more than $1 million in fraudulent auto insurance claims on his cabs. The charge says that Walkowicki used S & R Medalion and a body shop company that existed only on paper in order to create and file fraudulent insurance claims amounting to more than $1 million during a seven-year period.


Acquit Sound Factory owner
A federal jury on June 8 acquitted Richard Grant, owner of the former Sound Factory on W. 27th St. and later on W. 46 St. west of 11th Ave., of conspiracy to aid narcotics distribution and providing a building for drug sales.

The club was notorious for Ecstasy and methamphetamine overdoses by patrons, two of whom died, before the establishment was finally shut down two years ago. Grant, a native of Canada, testified on his own behalf and contended that he was unaware of the drug dealing. A security aide, Randell Fogiers, was also acquitted of the same charges.

The main witness against Grant, Ronald Coffiel, the Sound Factory security chief who admitted to charges of drug dealing, damaged his own credibility by admitting that he had secretly skimmed money from the club entrance fees over a two-year period.


Raid St. Mark’s Pl. CD shop
Police raided Mondo Kim, a CD and DVD shop at 6 St. Mark’s Pl. on Wed., June 8, seized boxes filled with CDs, DVDs and equipment used to make unauthorized copies of the copyrighted discs and arrested five of the more than 20 employees of the three-level store and charged them with trademark counterfeiting..

Craig Willingham, 32, of 611 E. 11th St.; Theo Frimpong, 39, of the Bronx; Diana Kinscherf, 19, of Queens; Ronald Stahl, 26, of Brooklyn; and Charles Bettis, 29, also of Brooklyn, were charged in the 1:15 p.m. raid.


Elderly woman raped
An unknown intruder ambushed a woman, 88, in her Pike St. building on Wed., June 8, forced her inside and raped her, police said. The suspect, described only as a Hispanic man, stole $200 from the apartment before fleeing with an accomplice who is believed to have entered the apartment while the attack was in progress.

The victim, described as a frail Asian immigrant with limited command of English, was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Neighbors said the lock on the front door of the building where the victim lived across from the Rutgers Houses had been broken since the beginning of the year. Police are asking anyone with information to phone 800-577-TIPS.


Shot on Broadway
A shot fired by a robber fleeing from a pursuer on Broadway and 29th St. shortly before noon on Sat., June 11, struck and injured a Baltimore woman in town on a shopping trip, police said.

The victim, Sherin Guster, 25, was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital in stable condition.

The incident started when a group of men entered a CD discount outlet on the second floor of a building at 29th St. and Broadway, grabbed CD’s off the shelves and put them in bags and then fled. The shop owner called police and then went in pursuit of the thieves, one of whom pulled a 9-millimeter pistol, fired and hit Guster who was walking on Broadway with friends.

Police apprehended and charged two men and recovered the gun that they said had fired the shot that hit the victim.


Slashed on train
A man got into an argument with a fellow passenger on a northbound N train on the night of May 30 and by the time the train reached 23rd St. station, the words had turned into a shoving match, police said. The victim realized he had been slashed on the arm only after he got off the train at 23rd St. Police classified the assault as a bias incident because the victim, an Asian man, recalled that his attacker had made racial slurs during the argument.

Albert Amateau

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