A Chinatown business woman pleaded guilty on Dec. 20 to making unlawful money transfers of $7.2 million between Vietnam and the U.S. from her jewelry store, Kim Phuong Vietnam Enterprise, Inc., at 195A Canal St., according to Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau.
Rose Huong Phung Dao, 44, pleaded guilty to attempted enterprise corruption, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and her company pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed money transfer, both felonies.
As part of her plea, Dao agreed to forfeit more than $250,000, including money from her bank account and money found in her Canal St. store on Aug. 16 when a search warrant was executed there.
Dao acknowledged that for a fee she allowed customers to move money to Vietnam without the reports, scrutiny or screening against a list of known terrorists and narcotics traffickers required by law. The operation also allowed recipients in New York to receive money transferred from Vietnam.
Morgenthau said in a prepared statement that the guilty plea was part of a continuing investigation into money laundering and illegal wire transfer businesses. The illegal money transfers are often used to conceal the proceeds of narcotics and terrorism activities, Morgenthau added.
Responding to a report that five men were dealing drugs on the eighth floor of a Baruch Houses building on Columbia St. on Wednesday night, Dec. 21, police arrested Abdulah Abdurahim, 28, and charged him with possession of marijuana and cocaine and with resisting arrest.
The suspect was leaving the building at 9:41 p.m. and struggled when police stopped him, according to the charges. Abdurahim was found to have 13 bags of marijuana and three bags of cocaine, according to police.
Phony sex charges
Police arrested Juan Sanchez, 17, on Wed. Dec. 21 and charged him with sexual misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child by showing his 15-year-old girlfriend sexually-explicit pictures of himself on his cell phone during a series of meetings with her in an E. 22nd St. building near Gramercy Park. The girls stepfather learned about the incidents, alleged to have occurred between Nov. 3 and Nov. 22, and reported them on Dec.1 to police, who made the arrest after an investigation.
A 20-inch water main beneath Broadway between 23rd and 24th Sts. at the intersection with Fifth Ave. near the Flatiron Building burst shortly before 6 a.m. Sat. Dec. 24 causing the collapse of a 20-foot section of the street and flooding the N, R, Q subway station.
The cast-iron pipe dates from 1870 but Ian Michaels, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson, said on Dec. 27 that the cause of the break was still under investigation.
The age of the pipe may have been a factor but we have pipes that old and older that carry water every day, Michaels said. The break occurred at a three-way road intersection with a subway running underneath, all contributing to vibrations, Michaels said. Also, water pressure in mains is highest during the early-morning hours when water use is at its lowest, he noted. Most breaks occur in winter when the ground is frozen and transmits vibrations most efficiently, he added.
D.E.P. spends $100 million replacing about 60 miles of the citys 6,300 miles of water mains each year. Since 1970, replacement mains have been made of ductile iron, which is more flexible and less prone to cracking than the more brittle cast iron in use for the previous 100 years.
Indicted on sex charge
A New York County grand jury last week indicted Peter Braunstein, 41, for sexual abuse, kidnapping, arson and robbery in connection with the Oct. 31 attack on a Chelsea woman while he was dressed as a firefighter.
Braunstein appeared in court Fri. Dec. 23, represented by Robert Gottlieb, a criminal lawyer hired by his father, who asked Judge Neil F. Ross to order a psychiatric examination to determine if the defendant is able to understand the charges against him. Ross said he would let a trial judge decide on the issue and set a Jan. 5 date for Braunsteins arraignment. Ross ordered the defendant returned to Bellevue hospital under a suicide watch to continue treatment for the neck wound he inflicted on himself when he was arrested in Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 16.
Braunstein is accused of setting two small fires in the hall outside the victims W. 24th St. apartment on Halloween evening, forcing his way in, binding and chloroforming the victim, then sexually abusing her for more than 12 hours before fleeing with her fur coat and handbag.