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Oct 30, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Man gets 17 1/2 years for selling guns to cops in Harlem


His gun-slinging days are over.


Brooklyn gun dealer Paul (Gangsta) Lee was sentenced to 171/2 years in state prison for selling 13 illegal firearms to undercover officers in East Harlem and near Co-op City in the Bronx, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced Tuesday.


Lee, 25, sold the firearms — including a sawed-off shotgun and an AP-9 assault weapon — to undercover cops between May and December 2013 for 0 to 0 each, the district attorney said.


Lee pled guilty in August in Manhattan Supreme Court to criminal sale of a firearm and conspiracy, which are both felonies. His sentence includes five years of post-release supervision.


“We are all too aware of the devastation that illegal firearms are causing in our communities,” Vance Jr. said.


jransom@nydailynews.com

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Oct 29, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx rappers create Ebola-related song to calm fears about disease


An ill beat  might help the world combat Ebola.


That’s the idea behind a Bronx rap group’s new song aimed at moving the nation to do something about the deadly disease.


“Chant ‘We don’t want to die, we don’t want to die,’ ‘cause we’ll lose this battle if we turn a blind eye,” The Ground Breakers, an old-school Bronx hip-hop group, raps in the track temporarily titled “We Don’t Want to Die.”


The rappers — Kut King, Rodney Stone, MC Happy and T-SKI Valley — will debut the infectious tune Thursday at a Harlem town hall meant to quell concerns about the virus.


“Ebola is the topic of the conversation,” raps Stone in the first verse. “Saving lives is our final destination.”


A stop en route there is to fight unfair pegging of Americans with West African heritage as infected with Ebola.


The performance comes days after two middle school kids from Senegal say they were pummeled at a Bronx school by bullies chanting, “You’re Ebola!”


The disease can only be spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids of someone infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


And just two cases have been reported in the United States.


“It only gets worse if you think it’s a curse,” raps T-Ski Valley in the track’s third verse.


The song is scant on specific instructions on how to avoid contracting Ebola or how quarantines work.


But the hip-hop pioneers say they’ll update the song with more information as their campaign continues.


Organizers say the tune is more about uniting people against the disease.


“It’s kind of like the song ‘We are the World,’ but for Ebola,” said Felix Sarpong, an active member of the Bronx Ghanaian community who recruited the rappers.


bkochman@nydailynews.com


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Oct 29, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Fraudster can’t take over Bronx strip club


A FEDERAL judge in Brooklyn has dashed the hopes of a convicted fraudster looking to have his felony record wiped clean in order to take over the family business — a South Bronx strip club.


Gus Drakopoulos, barred from owning a business with a liquor license since pleading guilty to securities fraud in 2000, sought to have his record cleared so that he could legally take over Sin City Cabaret from his ailing mother.


But Judge Sterling Johnson shot down Drakopoulos’ request, noting his “inability to obtain a liquor license to pursue business opportunities cannot rise to the level of extreme circumstances that warrant expungement.”


It is extremely rare for a judge to expunge a felon’s record, experts said.


Sin City Cabaret’s liquor licence, which is in Drakopoulos’ mother’s name, expires at the end of November and must be renewed. Drakopoulos did not return calls for comment .


dslattery@nydailynews.com


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Oct 29, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Cops hunt teen boy robbing girls of cellphones in the Bronx


He’s preying on his own.


Cops in the Bronx are hunting a teenage terror accused of robbing nearly a dozen adolescent girls since late September.


The baby-faced brute pretends to have a gun or a knife as he forces his victims to fork over their phones and property, cops said Wednesday.


The robbery spree began on Sept. 25 when he approached a 12-year-old girl on Bronxwood Ave. near Tilden St. in Williamsbridge at 3 p.m., threatened her and ran off with her cellphone.


The teen hit Bronxwood Ave. again — this time near Duncan St. — a few days later on Oct. 1 where he robbed a phone from a 16-year-old girl, officials said.


Police said the teen, who was caught on a surveillance camera leaving a train station after one of the thefts, has taken property off seven of the 11 girls he’s held up.


His last heist was on Sunday, when he took a cellphone off a 16-year-old girl on East Gun Hill Rd. and Lurting Ave., also in Williamsbridge, cops said.


None of his victims were injured.


Police are asking anyone with information regarding the thief’s whereabouts to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.


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Oct 29, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Burglar steals $55K worth of items, cash from Bronx church


A brazen burglar walked away with a bounty of pricey religious tokens when he robbed a Pentecostal church in the Bronx, police said Tuesday.


The man broke into the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubi and Seraphim church on Walton Ave. and stole a golden cross, a gold-plated crozier, a bishop’s ring, and several chains – totaling more than ,000 in value, the church’s bishop, Tunde Aina, 65, said.


The burglar also nicked around ,000 from the church’s collection box during the Oct. 17 heist at 2 a.m., police said.


Aina said it took him 40 years to amass his valuable collection of religious items.


“For you to come into a church and do such a thing, it’s a sin,” Aina said. “That is an abomination.”


Police released surveillance video of the suspect pushing a shopping cart full of bags and ask anyone with information to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.


jstepansky@nydailynews.com


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Oct 29, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Man released from jail when video evidence contradicts police report


A Bronx Supreme Court judge released a Bronx man from jail while his case is pending after the Daily News reported his claim that video evidence contradicts the NYPD’s account of the circumstances of his arrest.


Raymond Romero, 21, was freed Monday after his lawyer showed Judge John Moore a copy of The News’ story. He had been held without bail since April 1 because his arrest violated a plea deal in a drug case last year.


In court papers, police say officers approached Romero outside a barbershop because he appeared to match the description of a robbery suspect said to be wearing a green hoodie.


Romero’s hoodie was blue. Police say, according to the criminal complaint, he refused to take his hands out of his pockets. But surveillance video obtained by The News showed that, when cops approached Romero, he had a cigarette in one hand and his other hand at his side. After his arrest, police say, Romero spit at police and tried to fight them. He denies ever having spat at cops and says police beat and Tasered him while in a holding cell.


He was charged with felony assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The Bronx District Attorney’s office and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau are investigating.


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Oct 28, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Disabled veteran reunited with dogs


For some animal lovers, three months away from their pooches is a doggone long time.


Disabled veteran Gloria Montes said it felt like a lifetime when she was reunited Tuesday with her beloved pups Jigga and Cache.


“I feel like I have my life back,” said an emotional Montes. “These are my babies. They are my children.”


Montes, 56, was forced to temporarily give up the canines this summer after she was evicted from her Bronx home and had trouble finding a place for all three of them to live.


The U.S. Air Force vet, who struggles with emotional and physical disabilities, said her landlord gave her the boot after her brother moved in with his two dogs, and there were too many pets in the apartment.


She huddled with her pooches for weeks, living out of her car, before she finally walked into an Animal Care and Control of NYC shelter in tears.


“I begged them and told them I don’t want my dogs to be adopted,” she recalled. “They are my dogs and my family, and I need some time to get an apartment.”


Photos of 13-year-old Jigga and 9-year-old Cache were then posted on one of the Facebook pages for Dogs on Deployment, an organization that helps four-legged friends of veterans.


Animal rescuer and trainer Liz Keller stepped up and agreed to foster the pair.


“They looked like they were spoiled,” said Keller, who recently founded Rescue Dogs Rescue Soldiers to train shelter dogs for returning servicemen and women. “They were always very interested in having attention and being walked.”


The dogs stayed at the upstate Glen Wild Animal Rescue for three months while Montes continued to look for an apartment.


She found a place to live at a Bronx site that caters to veterans but faced another roadblock. The facility initially did not permit dogs.


However, the canines are considered part of Montes’ “emotional support” therapy, her doctors and supporters said, convincing the complex to allow Jigga and Cache to join their owner.


“They are more than pets, they are a big part of her emotional support,” said Jenny Coffey, a social worker with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYCs Animals, who helped Montes.


“For many people with health and mental health impairments, their pets are another access to the rest of the world,” she added.


The happy pooches wagged their tails and heaped kisses on Montes when they were finally reunited outside their new digs.


“This is what I wanted — to have my dogs and be at peace,” she said.


lcolangelo@nydailynews.com

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Oct 28, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx tot, 2, fights for life after head injury

A teary Barbara Greer, whose battered 2-year-old son was fighting Tuesday for his life, trusted the toddler’s uncle to watch her boy when she went to work.

Now Greer is wondering why.

With cops questioning the uncle, the Bronx mom said Tuesday that his tale of what landed little Joemil in critical condition reeks of deceit.

“He said he was burping the baby, and the baby moved and hit his head on one of the poles of my canopy bed,” she said in the family’s Bronx apartment. “That doesn’t make any sense.

“When I saw the baby, he had bumps all over his head. He was white and blue.”

Doctors were still working Tuesday on Joemil as police grilled his uncle about the head injury that his mother said left the boy with three skull fractures and bleeding on the brain.

No charges were filed as the investigation continued. The emotional Greer said her boy could barely open one eye from the swelling, and Joemil’s prognosis was uncertain.

Barbara Greer said the uncle did almost nothing to help the injured boy and never called 911.

“I don’t know why he didn’t do anything,” said the weeping mother. “He said he put some ice on his head, but that it was just a little thing.”

The stunned mother brought her critically injured baby to the hospital just three weeks after his second birthday.

The Monday babysitting arrangement marked the first time the 32-year-old uncle was left to watch the little boy alone, Greer said.

He and his wife usually handled the babysitting together, but the woman landed a job last week and her husband was left to care for Joemil by himself, neighbor Aurora Quezada said.

Greer stopped by Quezada’s apartment Monday morning on her way to work.

“She said, ‘Aurora, I’m leaving my kid here with Junior. Look out for him,’” Quezada recalled Tuesday.

A hysterical Greer called Quezada hours later after returning to the Highbridge apartment to find her boy blue in the face and barely breathing, a police source said.

The boy was taken to Lincoln Hospital and then transferred to New York Presbyterian Hospital Columbia in critical condition, cops said.

Aurora rushed to meet the weeping mother at the hospital as doctors worked to save the badly injured child’s life.

“They passed by with the baby,” Quezada recalled. “He looked as if he was dead. He was cold and purple. He was breathing … I said that was a good sign.

“Somebody else said, ‘He’s not breathing on his own, he’s breathing by machine.’”

Quezada said Joemill, a frequent visitor to her apartment, was not a sickly or troublesome boy.

“He is not a kid who was accident-prone, jumping around, running all over,” the neighbor said. “I believe something was done to this kid.”

bpaddock@nydailynews.com

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Oct 28, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Engineer fell asleep, was speeding before Metro-North crash: feds


The Metro-North Railroad derailment that killed four passengers in December was caused by an engineer falling asleep at the controls and speeding through a curve, investigators said Tuesday.


Train operator William Rockefeller had severe undiagnosed sleep apnea when he nodded off and his train hit a curve in the Riverdale section of the Bronx at 82 mph — 52 mph over the limit, the National Transportation Safety Board said.


The failure by Metro-North and the Federal Railroad Administration to have a policy requiring screening for sleep apnea was a contributing cause of the accident, the NTSB report said.


Another contributing factor was the lack of an automatic emergency braking system to halt the out-of-control train.


The crash was made even worse because of a loss of glazing on windows through which passengers were ejected.


The NTSB also released the probable causes of four other Metro-North accidents:


- May 17, 2013, Bridgeport, Conn. One train derailed and was struck by another on an adjacent track, injuring 65 people. Causes: improperly maintained track and subpar maintenance and inspection programs at the railroad.


- May 28, 2013, West Haven, Conn. Metro-North track gang foreman Robert Luden hit and killed by a Metro-North passenger train. Causes: Student rail control trafficker reopened segment of track without alerting track crew or supervision. Contributing factors were the failure by Metro-North to have a backup safety system involving signals or other methods to protect the crew, and the FRA’s failure to require one.


- July 18, Bronx. CSX freight train carrying garbage derailed. Causes: Deteriorated Metro-North track conditions resulting from deferred maintenance.


- March 10, 2014, Harlem. A Metro-North electrician is struck and killed by a Metro-North train. Causes: Miscommunication about the parameters of zone in which trains were blocked.


Overall the NTSB found systemic problems including “inadequate and ineffective track inspection and maintenance, extensive deferred maintenance issues, inadequate safety oversight, and deficiencies in passenger car crashworthiness, roadway worker protection procedures and organizational safety culture.”


pdonohue@nydailynews.com

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Oct 28, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx baby rushed to hospital with head injury


A 2-month-old Bronx boy was hospitalized in critical condition Monday after he suffered an injury to his head while in the care of his uncle, police said.


Joemil Greer’s mother returned to her apartment on Sheridan Ave. in Highbridge about 3:30 p.m. to find the child blue in the face and barely breathing, a police source said.


The boy’s 32-year-old uncle — his step-father’s brother — told the mother the child had hit his head on a bedpost, the source said.


The boy was taken to Lincoln Hospital and then transferred to New York Presbyterian Hospital Columbia in critical condition, cops said.


His uncle was being questioned by police but had not been charged as of early Tuesday.


“She was crying and crying,” family friend Jeffrey Costa, 25, said of the boy’s mother.


He said of the uncle, “I never knew him to do anything negative.”


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Oct 28, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx bullies beat Senegalese boys over Ebola


Two middle school students who recently moved to the Bronx from West Africa were pummeled at their school after a pack of bullies taunted them with chants of “You’re Ebola!” their outraged father said Monday.


Ousmane Drame’s sons Pape, a 13-year-old eighth grader, and Amidou, an 11-year-old in sixth grade, were bashed by bullies at Intermediate School 318 in the Bronx on Friday, their dad said, flanked by a cadre of West African community leaders and elected officials.


“These kids didn’t do anything wrong. They don’t deserve to get beaten,” Drame said at a news conference at the Senegalese American Association in Harlem.


Amidou and Pape were born in America, but had been in Senegal learning French, said their dad, a 62-year-old cab driver. Since moving here about a month ago, the boys’ experience at the Tremont school has been infected with fear. “They go to gym, and they say, ‘You don’t touch the ball, you have Ebola, if you touch it we will all get Ebola,’ ” their father explained.


Tensions bubbled over Friday when Amidou was punched in the face during lunch. A fight broke out after Amidou sneezed and a student shouted “Ebola, you’re Ebola!” a police source said.


When Pape came over to defend his brother, he was beaten as well, the father said. The boys weren’t seriously hurt.

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Oct 27, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Thousands cruise through Bronx at annual Tour de Bronx


Wheels up!


More than 6,000 cyclists zoomed through the Bronx Sunday as part of the state’s largest free cycling event.


The 20th annual “Tour de Bronx” wound through the borough, starting at 161st St. and the Grand Concourse.


More advanced bikers rode a 40-mile route; others pedaled a 25-mile course. Both tours converged at an end-of-ride bash at the New York Botanic Garden.


Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted the ride with Transportation Alternatives and the Bronx Tourism Council.


bkochman@nydailynews.com

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