West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 14 | September 5 - 11, 2007

Villager photos by Lorcan Otway

Clockwise from above: L.E.S. Jewels a few months ago sporting a large gash on his nose; with a new toy in Tompkins Square Park; at his wedding to Amy — a School of Visual Arts student who hopes she can save him — at Rockaway Beach earlier this year.

Punk in pen pleads not guilty of Ave. A shakedown

By Lincoln Anderson

A high-profile Tompkins Square Park punk cooling his heels in prison says he’s innocent of charges that could keep him behind bars for up to four years.

L.E.S. Jewels pleaded not guilty on Aug. 28 to grabbing a man by the throat and demanding money from him at E. Seventh St. and Avenue A earlier this summer. Jewels, real name Joel Pakela, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon (his walking cane) in the third degree, attempted robbery in the third degree, menacing in the second degree and attempted assault in the third degree.

According to police, on Thurs., July 19, at 1 a.m., Jewels approached a man and demanded money from him, but the man refused and walked past him. Jewels then ran in front of him and again demanded money, then grabbed him by the throat with his hands. A friend of the man pulled Jewels off of him, after which Jewels then raised his cane toward the second man in a threatening manner, then repeatedly attempted to strike the second man with his fists.

The arresting police officer said that right after the incident he recovered a wooden cane from the ground where Jewels had thrown it.
A grand jury indicted Jewels on Aug. 13.

His next court date is Sept. 12 in New York State Supreme Court.

Having previously been convicted of a crime, if found guilty of the most serious charge, robbery, he faces up to four years in jail.

Sporting facial tattoos, an eye patch and a mohawk, Jewels, 38, is a well-known denizen of Tompkins Square Park and Avenue A, having haunted the area for 20 years. He’s a self-proclaimed leader of the park’s “crusties,” who also call themselves the “gutter pirates.” He’s also a favorite subject of East Village photographers who shoot the area’s street life.

“I know there are several Web sites that have lots of photos of him,” said Deputy Inspector Dennis De Quatro, Ninth Precinct commanding officer.

Jewels’s outrageous behavior is fueled by substance abuse. He claims to have kicked a heroin habit but says his heavy drinking is the real problem and will kill him if he can’t stop it. Local observers said that, before his latest arrest, his boozing had worsened and his behavior had gotten more gross and out of control. He is known to wield his cane as a weapon, recently having used it to whack the head of a man who had just emerged from a coma, sending him back to the hospital. When not high or drunk, though, Jewels is quite affable and charismatic.

Stephen Morello, deputy commissioner of public information for the Department of Correction, said Pakela is currently incarcerated at the Manhattan Detention Center, also known as “The Tombs,” on Centre St. He could get out if he posts bail of $10,000 cash or a bond of $30,000.

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