Volume 80, Number 30 | December 23 - 29, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Fire raged through four floors of a five-story residential building at 29 E. Broadway between Catherine and Market Sts. in Chinatown during the early hours of Tues., Dec. 21, forcing at least 20 residents to flee from their homes and find shelter elsewhere. The fire started shortly before 3 a.m. in an apartment on the second floor and raced up a shaftway to the third, fourth and fifth floors, a fire official said. By 3:30 a.m. a second alarm brought the number of firefighters at the scene to 106. The fire was declared under control at 4:47 a.m. Cause of the blaze was under investigation. Four residents were treated for minor injuries at New York Downtown Hospital. The Red Cross referred displaced tenants to temporary shelter. No firefighters were injured.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver issued a statement later, saying, “Even as we provide for temporary shelter, our priority is to make sure these residents are able to move back into their homes as quickly as possible and that the businesses that have been impacted are able to reopen. I understand preliminary repair work on the building is already underway and I have offered my assistance in helping residents return as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Hate charge nixed
A grand jury last week declined to indict Eddie Crespo, 28, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee arrested with another defendant and charged in a hate crime for attacking Rob Peterson, an imam from Woodside, Queens, in the Canal St. IND subway station on Dec. 8. The grand jury returned a “no true bill” on the Crespo indictment on Dec. 13 and charges against him were dropped, said a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.
Albert Melendez, 30, is still facing robbery and assault charges as a hate crime and is being held in lieu of bail pending a Jan. 11 court appearance. However, the grand jury that heard the Crespo case called for charges against Melendez to be reduced to misdemeanor assault. Melendez was charged along with Crespo with punching and kicking the victim, 49, making anti-Islamic remarks, mocking the victim’s kufi (a Muslim head covering) and throwing it onto the subway tracks. Crespo’s lawyer said his client was arrested after he intervened to break up a fight between Melendez and Peterson. Melendez’s lawyer said the fight started when Melendez accidentally bumped into Peterson, who refused to accept an apology and a handshake.
Gets 25 years to life
Jeromie Cancel, found guilty on Nov. 18 for the August 2008 strangling murder of Kevin Pravia, a Pace University student in his W. 15th St. apartment, was sentenced on Wed., Dec. 22, to 25 years to life in prison. During testimony by Pravia’s family at a pre-sentence hearing, a family member stood up and shouted at Cancel, who was audibly muttering to himself, observers said.
Meat Market rage
A woman patron of MPD restaurant, at 73 Gansevoort St., lost her cool at about 1:04 a.m. Sun., Dec. 19, picked up a glass and smashed it into the face of another patron, police said. Aisha Maduro, 25, was charged with aggravated assault.
Police arrested Carlos Cuate, 20, during the early hours of Thurs., Dec. 16, and charged him with grand larceny for stealing a wallet with $200 cash from a woman patron of Dos Caminos, 675 Hudson St. The victim had dropped her wallet on the floor of the bar and a surveillance camera caught an image of Cuate picking it up, police said. He was arrested a short time later.
Picked on kids
Police arrested Kelvin Austin, 55, on Thurs., Dec. 16, and charged him with robbery for intimidating and forcing two 13-year-olds to give him all their money. Police said Austin stopped the boy and the girl on Sixth Ave. across from Cornelia St. around 4:20 p.m. and asked for money. The kids tried to walk away but the suspect followed them and insisted they give him money. Police said the two victims gave him 11 $1 bills and tried to walk away again. But the suspect said it wasn’t enough and demanded more. The youngsters surrendered two $5 bills, police said. They reported the incident to a police officer, who arrested the suspect a short time later.
Skirting the law
The owner of the PIF Margarita Aymerich clothing boutique, at 56 Greene St., told police she was helping a customer when three women who entered the shop around 1:45 p.m. Sat., Dec. 18, grabbed two vests and two shawls designed by Alberto Mahali, with a total value of $1,600, hid them under their long skirts and left without paying for them. The thefts were caught on the shop surveillance camera, police said.
Lost in Soho
A woman visitor from Munich told police she was at Le Pain Quotidien, at 100 Grand St. at Mercer St., around 10 a.m. Fri., Dec. 17, when her bag, which she had placed on the floor behind her chair, was stolen, along with $100 in cash, a camera and credit cards. She later discovered that an unauthorized $689 charge had been made on a credit card at an Apple Store.
Clipped on Broadway
A 19-year-old Brooklyn resident told police he was walking down Broadway from Canal St. around 8 p.m. Sat., Dec. 18, and felt himself bumped and jostled a few times. By the time he reached the Starbucks at 405 Broadway between Walker and Lispenard Sts., he said, he discovered that his wallet had been lifted, along with $40 in cash, an expired Nevada driver’s license and a Nevada library card. The victim told police he might have been followed from a barbershop.