Volume 76, Number 32 | January 3 - 9, 2007
A man, 61, who was pulled from a fire in his fourth-floor apartment at 207 E. 15th St. east of Third Ave. at 5:53 a.m. Thurs., Dec. 28, was declared dead of his burn injuries a short time later at the Weill Cornell Medical Center, a Fire Department spokesperson said. The fire, attributed to a cooking accident, was confined to the apartment and was under control at 6:40 a.m., according to the Fire Department.
Fire in electrical cables under W. Houston St. between Thompson and MacDougal Sts. triggered explosions that sent three manhole covers flying into the air in quick succession and rocked nearby buildings at 6 p.m. Thursday evening Dec. 28, a Con Edison spokesperson said.
A passerby who was running on MacDougal St. as she fled the explosion site was cut by falling glass shattered by the blast from a second-story window at 47 MacDougal St. She was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital with a severed tendon in her left hand.
The first manhole flew about 30 feet above the street and landed in the Houston St. median, witnesses said. A Con Ed worker at the scene said that half of the first manhole’s rim, which is embedded in the street, was blown out of the ground something he’s never seen before so the blast must have been very strong.
Power was out for about three hours on the east side of Sullivan St. between Houston and Prince Sts., said Ian Dutton, a resident of the block.
“The Sixth Precinct went door to door on the block, even though it’s outside of their district, checking up on seniors who might need help or if anyone was stuck in elevators,” Dutton said.
A fight at Webster Hall, on E. 11th St. at Fourth Ave., at about 4 a.m. Sat., Dec. 30, ended with one man stabbed and another arrested for first-degree assault, police said. The victim, 20, whose name was not divulged, identified his assailant before he was taken in stable condition to Bellevue Hospital, police said. Lujan Bonifacio, 22, was charged with first-degree assault. Deputy Inspector Dennis De Quatro, Ninth Precinct commanding officer, confirmed that the stabbing occurred inside the club.
Arrested in robbery
Police arrested two men during the early hours of Tues., Dec. 26, after their car crashed on W. 43 St., and charged them with robbing two victims, shooting and injuring one of them, as they were driving away from a west Chelsea club.
One of the victims, Scott Sellers, 31, was shot in the leg as he and his friend Jason Townsend were getting into Seller’s car parked at a W. 28th St. parking lot after a night at Sol, a large club on W. 29th St. The suspects are charged with taking diamond jewelry from Sellers during the incident. They drove away uptown on the downtown 11th Ave. in a minivan with Texas plates.
The owner of a nearby auto-repair garage gave police three digits of the license plate number and a patrol car picked up the chase as the van turned east on the westbound 43rd St. At Ninth Ave., police arrested Eric Harding, 36, and Patrick Day, 38, both of Brooklyn after the van crashed into a car.
Sellers was treated at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Harding and Day were charged with assault and three counts of robbery. They are to be arraigned in criminal court Dec. 29.
Grand grand larceny
A man who tried to steal the $76 million Soho Grand Hotel by filing a phony deed to the property was charged with attempted grand larceny on Fri., Dec. 29, according to the city Department of Investigation and Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau’s Office.
Kouadio Kouassi, 46, of Chester, N.Y., was arraigned on first-degree attempted grand larceny and two counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. He is being held in lieu of bail pending a Jan. 29 court appearance.
Employees of the New York County Clerk’s Office and the city Department of Finance charge that Kouassi submitted documents on Nov. 22 to their offices to establish an interest in the property at 310 W. Broadway. But the documents, purporting to certify that the Hartz Group had transferred ownership of the hotel to Kouassi, were not accepted because they lacked some necessary signatures.
Most deeds are filed by lawyers and title companies, so documents filed by individuals are scrutinized for irregularities, a Finance spokesperson said. Representatives for the Hartz Group told the city they never heard of Kouassi and certainly did not sell him the 340-room hotel.
D.O.I. officials said Kouassi made at least five attempts to file the false papers before he was arrested last week.
Cyber sex conviction
A Manhattan federal jury on Dec. 20 convicted Timothy McDarrah, 44, a Village resident and former reporter and editor for US Weekly, of trying to engage a 13-year-old girl in a sexual encounter via an F.B.I. Internet sting.
McDarrah initially responded to the ad offering the “freshest youngest girls” placed in Craiglist by the F.B.I. in June 2005, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. After an exchange of e-mails with “Julie,” McDarrah offered to pay $200 for oral sex with the purported 13-year-old girl, and made plans to meet her on July 7, 2005, but did not show up.
He continued to e-mail the fictitious Julie; told her about his US Weekly job interviewing celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Renée Zellweger and told her he had to be concerned whether law enforcement was involved in their exchange. At one point, he sent her a newspaper article about a man arrested in Pennsylvania for pursuing an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old girl in a chat room.
“Hope this never happens to me,” he said in an e-mail. The fake Julie also sent McDarrah a picture of a real 13-year-old girl purporting to be her. The e-mail address that McDarrah used was firstname.lastname@example.org, P.S.41 named the Greenwich Village School being the elementary school McDarrah had attended growing up in the Village.
Evidence at the trial established that McDarrah had sent e-mail responding to other ads, asking if the females in them were really 18 years old and stating that younger was fine by him, according to prosecutors.
McDarrah went twice to the area where Julie was said to be living to meet her and when no one showed up, he e-mailed her again on Sept. 14, 2005, to make another appointment. F.B.I. agents showed up for that one and arrested him.
McDarrah faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of 30 years. The sentencing date has not been set yet.
Police are looking for a robber who last month held up at gunpoint two men who were going from their offices to make bank deposits. On Fri., Dec. 8, at noon the gunman stopped his victim at the corner of E. 28th St. and Park Ave. S., demanded the money he was carrying and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash into a subway. On Mon., Dec. 18, the thief described as a black man about 30 pulled a gun on a second victim at 1:35 p.m. at E. 22nd St. between Second and Third Aves., took an undisclosed amount of cash and fled in a late-model car driven by an accomplice described only as a black woman. Police are asking anyone with information about the incidents to phone 1-800-577-TIPS (8477)
F.I.T. probes payroll
Fashion Institute of Technology is investigating possible payroll irregularities and has suspended with pay F.I.T.’s payroll director, Dennis Sudul, according to Brenda Perez, spokesperson for the school.
Sudul was suspended on Dec. 14 and so was his wife, Lina who also works in the F.I.T. accounting department, at 27th St. between Seventh and Eighth Aves. but the investigation does not involve her, Perez said.
Sudul was identified in the New York Post as a prominent handicapper of racehorses who has won more than $300,000 in handicapping tournaments.
New Year’s stabbing
A group of eight men stopped their victim walking on Avenue D at about 6 a.m. Mon., Jan. 1, demanded money and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, leaving the victim bleeding on the sideway from several stab wounds, police said. He was taken to Beth Israel Hospital, where he was described in stable condition.
To dye for
A man walked into the Chase bank branch on Friday afternoon Dec. 29, passed a note to a teller demanding money and walked out with a bag of cash which had a red-dye pack hidden between the bills, police said. By the time the thief reached the sidewalk, the dye pack exploded and the thief fled after dropping the bag.