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Volume 73, Number 27 | November 05 - 11, 2003



Police blotter

Stabbing death
An argument last Thursday between two partners in a Chinatown bus line ended with one of them dead on a Chinatown street corner with stab wounds in the chest and the other arrested for murder, police said.

The victim, Zhen Ji-Li, 31, of 125 E. Broadway, was found dead in front of 19 Pike St. at E. Broadway, and the suspect, Lei Chen, 25, who gave an Indianapolis, Ind., address, was charged with second-degree murder. Law enforcement officials said they were investigating the circumstances of the dispute, which appeared to be personal.

The knife was recovered at the scene, according to police. One witness, an immigration agent who was having dinner in the neighborhood shortly after 8 p.m. on Oct. 30, told police he saw the suspect repeatedly stab the victim.


Guilty of murders
A jury found Steven Santos guilty last Wednesday in the June 12, 2002, murders of three people in the Amalgamated Dwellings on Grand St. On that morning, law officials said, Santos, 21, climbed from a fire escape through a bathroom window of an apartment at 504 Grand St., and shot a sleeping man, Raymond D’Amelio, 49, drank whiskey he found in the apartment and watched TV before going to another apartment where he killed Sara Sprung, 88, and Larry Sprung, 86.

When District Attorney Robert Morganthau last Novemember ruled out the death penalty in the case, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was a friend of the Sprungs, protested, calling it “a classic case for the death penalty.” Last week, Silver called for the maximum sentence. “He still supports the death penalty, but the district attorney decided this was not a death penalty case,” said Silver spokesperson Bryan Franke. “The Speaker still supports life without parole on all three [murder] counts.”


DOA’s in Chelsea
Police found the body of Courtney Ratcliffe, 23, at 313 10th Ave. at W. 28th St. at 11:38 a.m. Sat., Nov. 1. The body of an as-yet-unidentified man, about 32, was found on a bench in front of 330 W. 28th St. in the Penn South complex at 8 p.m. Mon., Oct. 28. The medical examiner’s office is investigating the causes of death in both cases.


Claims innocence
Geoffrey Blank, a leader of the No Police State Coalition, claims he’s innocent of charges of trying to take a police officer’s gun near the U.N. on Sept. 28. The incident, during a rally against the “occupation” of Palestine and Iraq, started when police asked Blank about a “large bulge” in his pockets; they were his drumsticks, he said.

By Blank’s account, he then asked them if they had a search warrant and about “eight officers” grabbed him. “Maybe when they were throwing me around, my hand [inadvertently] touched a gun. They threw me to the ground,” Blank told The Villager. “At no point did I try to grab a cop’s gun. I’m innocent.” Blank said they’d have to charge him with “insanity,” because if he had tried to grab an officer’s gun he’d have been shot immediately. He said the charge against him is attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He complained that he had to post $5,000 bail.

According to the district attorney, if convicted, Blank faces two to seven years in jail. His next court date is Jan. 21. Also during the arrest, the coalition’s banners were confiscated, including “The Bush Regime Engineered 9/11” one that incensed former Mayor Koch and which he had called “outrageous.”


Deli robbery pattern
Police are looking for a pair of armed robbers who hit 10 grocery stores and delis in the East Village, Village, Chelsea and Flatiron neighborhoods between Oct. 16 and Oct. 29. The pair have also been robbing stores on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side.

The suspects are described as black men, with slim builds, one 5’10” the other 6’, in their 20s. They rob their victims at gunpoint between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. wearing masks or bandanas over their faces, police said.

Last Wednesday, Oct.29, the pair hit three places, including one in the Central Village at 45 University Pl. at 5:15 a.m., another 24 minutes later in the East Village at 131 Second Ave. at St. Marks Pl. and an earlier robbery on the Upper East Side.

They robbed three places on Mon. Oct. 27, including 195 Ninth Ave. at W. 21st St. in Chelsea and two Upper West Side locations.

The robbers hit a Village store at 793 Broadway near E. 11th St. at 6:55 a.m. Oct. 25; a Flatiron District store at 10 E. 23rd St. at 5 a.m. Oct. 19 and two East Village stores, one at 402 E. 14th St at 4:45 a.m. on Oct. 18 and the other at 4:10 a.m. on Oct. 16 at 71 Fourth Ave.


Bank jobs
A man who entered the Amalgamated bank branch at 301 Third Ave. at 23rd St. at 8:35 a.m. Wed. Oct. 29 passed a note demanding money to a teller and fled with $80, police said. Another bank robber passed a note to a teller at a bank branch at 95 Madison Ave. near 29th St. at 12:35 p.m. Oct. 28 and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.


Arrested for assault
Police arrested a Queens man on Thurs. Oct. 30 and charged him with aggravated harassment and second-degree assault in connection with a Sept. 27 bias attack on a victim on E. 13 St. in the East Village. Joseph Myers, 20, of Queens was charged with punching the victim in the face after he, another man and a woman harassed the victim and shouted antigay remarks.


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