Volume 73, Number 7 | June 16 - 22, 2004

Police Blotter

DWI fatal accident
The driver of a blue sedan going south on Allen St. at about 3 a.m. Mon. June 14 struck a westbound car on Grand St., killing a woman passenger and injuring the other driver, police said. Investigating officers arrested Neville Wells, 41, of 347 First Ave., at the scene and charged him with driving while intoxicated. The victim, Judith Gubernikoff, 39, of East Hills, N.Y., was taken to Bellevue where she was declared dead. The driver of the car in which she was riding was injured.

Indict cop in shooting
The police officer who shot and killed an unarmed African who spoke no English during a raid a year ago on a Chelsea warehouse pleaded not guilty on Thurs. June 10 to manslaughter in connection with the shooting.

Officer Bryan Conroy, 25, was a member of a squad making a raid on a CD counterfeit ring operating out of Chelsea Mini Storage on W. 27th St. and 12th Ave. on May 22, 2003, when Ousmane Zongo, 43, was killed.

Zongo, who repaired imported African artifacts from a cubicle he rented on the third floor of the warehouse, was not involved in the CD counterfeit ring, according to police. Conroy, dressed in plainclothes but wearing a badge, had been left to guard a third-floor cubicle where the counterfeits were stored when Zongo encountered him and fled. Conroy pursued and, in a scuffle, fired four shots that killed Zongo.

Conroy, with five years on the force, said he identified himself as a policeman and fired only after Zongo, cornered after a chase, tried to grab his gun. The Manhattan district attorney’s office contends that Zongo ran away only after Conroy pointed a gun at him and that the shooting was reckless and unjustified.

A grand jury returned the indictment June 9 and Conroy, represented by attorney Stuart London, is free on bail. Sanford Rubenstein, attorney for Zongo’s widow, has filed a $150 million federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.

Dye explodes in subway
A dye pack in a bag of money taken from a bank branch on Sixth Ave. at 14th St. on Tuesday morning June 8 exploded in the subway and stung the eyes of subway riders but the thief escaped.

The suspect walked into the HSBC branch at 101 W. 14th St. at 9:30 a.m., passed a noted to a teller demanding money and ran out with a bag containing an undetermined amount of cash and the dye pack, police said. The thief, decribed only as a black man of medium height, 25-30 years old and wearing a blue coat and a white baseball cap, fled to the 14th St. subway station where the pack exploded.

About 15 people standing near the turnstiles were affected and two were taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital for treatment. The robber left some of the red-stained money on the subway station floor before fleeing.

Arrest abuse suspect
Police arrested Jose Carrion, 57, of E. 102nd St., in Brooklyn, in the Union Sq. subway station at about 2:15 p.m. Mon. June 14 after a woman and a 9-year-old girl told police that they had been groped while standing on the platform of the No. 4 train at Grand Central Station. The suspect was charged with first-degree sexual abuse.

Burglary arrest
Police arrested Peter Guzman, 36, of Ridgewood, and charged him with burglary and robbery on Thursday afternoon, June 10, after a witness said he saw the suspect climb out of a window at 230 E. 19th St. The witness chased the suspect who ran past a firehouse where firefighters joined the chase, police said.

Indict Village mugger
A Bronx man charged with robbing a woman after she withdrew cash from an ATM in a West Village grocery store on May 25 was indicted on June 9 for robbery and grand larceny, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Bessy Diby, 17, approached the victim from behind shortly after 9 p.m. after she made the withdrawal and was walking on Bethune St. between Greenwich and Hudson Sts., police said.He grabbed her bag, pushed the victim down and fled with the bag after the strap broke. Two passersby chased the suspect, who dropped the bag and continued running until police arrested him on Bank St., law enforcement officials said.

Indict gallery owner
Jack Wright, 50, of Preston, Conn., who operates art galleries in Chelsea and the Village, was charged on June 9 with grand larceny in connection with stealing paintings — most by the late Milton Avery — worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Wright, who runs galleries at 131 Perry St. and at 529 W. 20th St. as well as in Southampton and Palm Beach, Fla., pleaded not guilty to grand larceny charges in connection with consignments of paintings from five people between October 1998 and May 2004.

The investigation began after a Sarasota, Fla., resident complained to police there that she had sent Wright a Milton Avery painting on a six-months consignment but had not been paid, nor had the painting been returned by the end of the period.

Wright, who specialized in Avery, was also charged with stealing more than $115,000 worth of paintings from the Avery estate between October 1998 and May 2004, law enforcement officials said. Another client complained that Wright took and never paid for an Avery nude and a portrait of the artist by his wife, Sally Michel.

The paintings are still missing and the investigation by N.Y.P.D. Major Case Squad continues.

Albert Amateau

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