Browsing articles in "Bronx News"
Oct 14, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Bronx ravioli legend Mario Borgatti dies at 97

A Bronx pasta legend whose meticulously handcrafted ravioli fed families for 80 years has died.

Mario Borgatti, who owned the iconic Borgatti’s Ravioli and Egg Noodles, passed away Oct. 8 at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, his family said. He was 97.

“He always said his success was the joy he gave to families who bought his pasta,” said his son, Chris Borgatti, who worked by his father’s side for 40 years.

“Food is one of the only things that bring families together,” said Chris, 56, who now runs the Belmont family business. “I learned that from him.”

Friends and relatives gathered Monday at Lucia Brothers Funeral Home to pay their respects to the man who still came to work despite falling ill with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease about three years ago.

“He would be on oxygen and still come to the store,” his son said. “He just loved being there.”

Borgatti worked his first shift at the iconic pasta shop at E. 187th Street when it opened in 1935. He was 17.

His parents, Lindo and Maria Borgatti, opened the family business after moving to the states from Polonia, Italy.

Though his brothers and sisters would later leave to take other jobs, Borgatti stayed, molding each pasta individually and making sure each dish met his high standards.

The family made his job easier in 1950 by importing an Italian pasta making machine, but the attention to every tasty detail remained.

Borgatti was consistently lauded as one of the city’s — if not the world’s — best Italian eateries.

“He was always a humble man,” Chris said, “but he knew that he was making a good product.”

The ravioli master will be buried Tuesday at Holy Mount Cemetery in Eastchester.

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Oct 13, 2014

BRONX NEWS: California band Mariachi El Bronx know nothing about the Bronx

These musicians may be “The Bronx,” but don’t ask them anything about their namesake locale.

A five-piece band from California — composed of precisely zero Bronx natives — has been touring the world as a punk rock outfit called “The Bronx” for more than a decade and, alternately, “Mariachi El Bronx,” for the last seven of those years.

The band expects to release its seventh studio album next month but has only ever visited the Bronx once, for a 2011 gig at Fordham public radio station WFUV.

“I really don’t know how we’ve gotten away with it for so long,” frontman Matt Caughthran said of the identity.

The Los Angeles-based punk band cooked up the moniker soon after its formation, in 2002 — though its members had only a vague notion of the actual Bronx.

“We really loved how the name sounded,” said Caughthran. “It sounded punk rock. It sounded rock and roll. It made no sense and we f***ing loved it.”

That same embrace of strangeness is behind the West Coast rock group’s reinvention, in 2007, as “Mariachi El Bronx.”

The group — which also includes no Mexicans — dons traditional charros, with Caughtthran crooning in English.

And people actually seem to like their take on the Mexican folk genre, which includes a thumping drumline.

“If we didn’t do it right, we’d look like idiots,” said Caughthran, whose group is to release “Mariachi El Bronx (III)” on Nov. 4, before heading on a European tour. “But we treat the music with respect.”

But do they also treat the borough with respect?

The borough’s highest ranking defender of the brand said he had no beef.

“As long as it’s done in a positive light, we are OK with people using the ‘Bronx’ name,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “We’re obviously so cool that people want to associate themselves with us.”

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Oct 13, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Bronx teacher accused of abuse, threats can’t get job back: judge

A Bronx teacher who was fired for being incompetent and abusive — and threatening a mass shooting — can’t have his job back, a judge has ruled.

Jason Roberts, 36, was fired from Public School 78 in February for a slew of offenses, including allegedly telling a colleague, “Don’t worry, when bullets fly I will spare you and your family.”

It took a long time for the city to be able to fire Roberts — a perennial problem for the city when it comes to trouble teachers. That issue was recently highlighted again by the arrest of alleged perv teacher Sean Shaynak, who’s currently drawing a paycheck while sitting behind bars on Rikers Island.

Court filings say Roberts was hit with 33 allegations of wrongdoing between 2010 and 2013.

In that time, he allegedly warned that “bullets are going to fly;” blew a whistle directly into a student’s ear; gave another teacher the finger; spat on a student; hung up on the principal; told students they could attack another student and break his glasses; passed gas in students’ faces; threw a block of wood at a student, and shouted things like “bitch,” “white devil” and “suck a goat’s ass” when talking to students, parents and colleagues, according to court papers.

He was given the boot after a hearing officer found his conduct “disgraceful.”

The “chronic rudeness and contempt that the (petitioner) showed towards the school administration and to his students are beyond the pale,” the hearing officer, Joshua Javits, wrote. “Discharge is the only appropriate remedy.”

Roberts filed suit to get his ,990-a-year job back earlier this year, charging the hearing officer was “biased” against him and he’d been denied due process. He also said the penalty was too harsh.

In a ruling last week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Peter Moulton disagreed.

He noted that Roberts — who maintained the students had conspired against him and his fellow faculty members were biased — had received a full and fair hearing over 18 days, in which he was represented by a lawyer. He also found the hearing officer’s 188-page decision recommending his termination was thorough and well-reasoned.

“In fact, it would shock the court’s conscience if (the hearing officer) had reached a different result and afforded petitioner another opportunity to teach,” Moulton wrote.

Roberts could not be reached for comment.

Shaynak, a teacher at Brooklyn Tech, was arrested earlier this month in a sickening array of crimes, including kidnapping and forcible touching, against a total of six girls, aged 13 through 19.

The divorced dad is being held on million bail. Education officials have acknowledged it could take up to a month to fire him — and he’ll continue to collect city checks in the meantime.

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Oct 13, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Green candidate from the Bronx wants lobbyist looked into

This Green Party candidate is seeing red.

Ramon Jimenez, a Bronx lawyer and Green Party candidate for Attorney General, called on the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics to investigate the actions of a lobbying firm representing FreshDirect in its bid to move to the Bronx.

In the complaint, filed Friday, Jimenez accuses the lobbyist, The Parkside Group, of contacting Mayor de Blasio’s office on behalf of the online grocer and not properly disclosing its activities to the ethics commission.

“We want the law followed as far as them having to record all contact they have with officials,” Jiminez told The News Friday. “It’s a concern for the people of New York, and especially to everyone in the South Bronx.”

FreshDirect’s heavily subsidized 0 million relocation from Queens to a vacant lot near the Mott Haven waterfront has been a target of fierce criticism from activists and community leaders since it was announced in 2012.

De Blasio was a harsh critic of the plans when he campaigned for mayor, railing against the tax breaks that were being given to a company known for its resistance to raising employees’ wages.

A Parkside representative said the group was well within the boundaries of New York’s lobbying laws, and chalked up the complaint as a campaign tactic.

“We are proud to be working on a project that is creating thousands of good paying jobs in the poorest Congressional district in America, and we have always complied with all requirements of city and state lobbying laws,” said Evan Stavisky, a Parkside Group spokesman. “This is just another last-ditch political stunt.”

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Oct 13, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Bronx ex-marine eyes run down home for veteran housing

Where some see a vacant, rundown shack, one ex-Marine in the Bronx envisions a critical stopover for veterans.

Gonzalo Duran is eyeing a beat-up Belmont house that he hopes to use as short-term lodging for returning men and women of arms.

“We’re trying to create a new and better model for housing veterans who fall through the cracks,” the 29-year-old Duran said during an interview in his pint-sized office on Third Ave. and E. 184th St.

The Bronxite spends his days working with local brokers and national agencies to help returning soldiers find safe housing through his newly incorporated veteran services center, Devil Dog USA.

The former Marine sergeant hopes his crowning salute to servicemen will be rehabbing a house at 2183 Lorillard Place for their use as a transitional abode.

His parents once lived in the two-story home, but when they left, in 2008, the place quickly fell prey to squatters.

Duran says he’ll have no shortage of vets knocking at his door, seeking a spot at the house.

Approximately 200,000 former troops, most in urban areas, are homeless every night, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

Many returning vets can’t qualify for federally sponsored housing programs, which are only open to those who have seen combat or have substance-abuse issues, Duran said.

And private landlords often turn away vets whose income consists of Veterans Adminstration checks and Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Duran experienced the issue firsthand when he returned from active duty in 2011, only to find that no landlord would accept him without pay stubs or taxable income.

Veterans receive tuition assistance and a monthly housing allowance, but landlords are not always receptive.

Duran spent five months crashing on friends’ couches and in halfway houses.

“I thought, no vet should have to live like this,” he said.

An easier form of shelter would have also helped 32-year-old Edson Arzu, who said he returned from a 10-year stint in the Navy in 2009, only to find himself homeless for three months.

Landlord after landlord turned away his application, Arzu said, despite the fact he had ,000 in the bank.

Arzu stayed with his wife and daughter at a homeless shelter in Queens.

Eventually, he earned enough by working part-time to move into an apartment in Bedford Park, while earning a degree at Monroe College.

Duran envisions the house on Lorillard Place as an ideal solution.

The home is still a work in progress, but supporters joined Duran Saturday to haul debris out of the backyard, where squatters had set up an illegal shack.

Duran estimated he’ll need at least 0,000 to ready the place for occupancy, and he is reaching out for donations and grants to turn the dingy house into a home.

“When we finish this place,” the former Leatherneck promised. “It will be beautiful.”

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Oct 13, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Man, 35, killed in ATV crash in Bronx

A 35-year-old man was killed and another man was injured when their all-terrain-vehicles crashed on a Bronx street Sunday afternoon, police said.

Paul Rodriguez, 35, of Washington Heights, died at St. Barnabas Hospital after his Yamaha ATV collided with another man’s ATV on Bailey Ave. near W. 233rd St. around 5:51 p.m., police said.

The other rider suffered a leg injury, cops said.

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Oct 12, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Bronx grandmother goes for degree

Connecting You To The News That Matters Most

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Oct 12, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Bronx woman fatally stabs acquaintance during heated argument: police

A 20-year-old woman fatally stabbed another woman who was visiting her Bronx apartment, authorities said Saturday.

Starquasia Baker faces manslaughter, assault and weapons possession charges in the 6:30 p.m. Friday killing.

Baker was arguing with Janelle Joseph, 30, inside her E. 229 Drive home — part of the Edenwald Houses — when she lashed out with a knife, stabbing her victim about the body, cops said.

Joseph was rushed to Jacobi Hospital, where she later died.

Baker was arrested at the scene and charged Saturday. Her arraignment was pending early Sunday.

Cops said the two women were acquaintances, but wouldn’t elaborate on their relationship.

It was not immediately revealed what the fatal argument was about, cops said.

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Oct 12, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Geoffrey Holder: A dulcet voice and so much more

A s a teenager, I probably discovered Trinidad and Tobago-born Geoffrey Holder in the 1970s on a 7-Up soft drink commercial — as many living in America did.

But, this true Renaissance man came with a well of achievements as deep as his melodic bass voice. Over time, I would learn that the grandeur and stature of the man was a perfect fit for his many amazing accomplishments.

I was unhappy, but not surprised, to see many headlines sum up the internationally renowned Holder’s life into a role in the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die.” And I hope it’s not contradictory for me to love Holder’s heavenly accented Caribbean bass tones praising the qualities of 7-Up, “the Un-Cola,” in the soft drink’s long-running and successful ad campaign. I simply loved to hear him speak and was pleased have his huge voice, ever-present accent and his colossal presence on the small screen.

As far as headlines go, I preferred the title, “Geoffrey Holder, Dancer, Choreographer, Actor, Artist, Has Died.” From the beginning, in the middle and right up to end, Geoffrey Holder was so much more than just a Bond adversary or a pitchman for a soda company. He was truly grand.

He was also known for winning Tony Awards for Best Director and Choreography for “The Wiz” on Broadway; his stint as a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York; and his work as an accomplished painter, author and world famous choreographer and actor.

Obituaries worldwide have chronicled his many accomplishments, but for more of the many facets of Holder, try these sources:

  • A When Steel Talks website interview with Holder and his some of his thoughts about the steel drum at;

  • “Carmen and Geoffrey,” the 2005 Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob documentary about Holder and his wife, dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade. It is available on

  • And then there’s the moving account of Holder and his last minutes of life from his son, Leo:


With a little help from their friends and a dash of star power, “The Long Run for Haiti” campaign will again raise money to aid reconstruction efforts in the Caribbean nation by participating in the TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 2.

The J/P Haitian Relief Organization — founded by popular actor/activist Sean Penn — is mounting the fundraising run, which last year helped raise close to 0,000 through the CrowdRise online fundraising website. The J/P HRO funds aid health care, education, construction and help bring permanent housing for survivors of devastating 2010 earthquake.

This year’s core group of elite J/P HRO team runners — Bertine Lainé, 32; Carline Lamour, 22; Astrel Clovis, 44; Pétrus Césarion, 28; and Jean Macksony, 32 — will be joined by on a myriad of racers, including “Desperate Housewives” actress Teri Hatcher and Adriana Henao, girlfriend of three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Season 5 Dancing with the Stars champion Helio Castroneves.

“We are thrilled and feel very fortunate to have Teri Hatcher and Adriana Henao join our Haitian runners, as well as Alan Culpepper to lead our talented team to success at this year’s marathon,” said Sean Penn, Founder and CEO of J/P HRO. “By starting a J/P HRO tradition of competing in one of the world’s premier sporting events, we hope it underscores the true essence of Haitian perseverance and inspires others to join us in supporting the rebuilding of Haiti.”

The St. Regis New York hotel JetBlue are corporate sponosrs for Team J/P HRO’s “The Long Run for Haiti” campaign and the St. Regis New York will serve as the official hospitality sponsor for the J/P HRO 2014 marathon team. Through its Inspire Humanity Program, JetBlue will provide flights for the Team J/P HRO runners.

For information, visit and follow J/P HRO on Twitter at


“Demerara Gold,” Guyanese playwright and performer Ingrid Griffith’s one-woman play about a young girl and domestic abuse is back!

The play — which premiered at the Midtown International Theatre Festival this past summer — will be staged on Oct. 17 and 18 in Brooklyn at A.R.T./NY-South Oxford Space, 138 South Oxford St. (between Atlantic Ave. and Fulton St.). Showtime is 8 p.m.

Tickets are online, at the door and for students with valid ID. For tickets, visit


Barbadian-American actor/singer/dancer Peter Anthony Moore, an original cast member of “The Lion King” On Broadway, will take the stage on Oct. 17 and 18 in the Ben Stiefel play “Stick A Fork In Me…I’m Done!”

Shows will be held at Hunter’s Steak & Ale House, 9404 Fourth Ave. (between 94th and 95th Sts.) in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Showtime is 7 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 3 p.m. on Oct. 18.

The play also stars Ashley Victoria Harris, Jenna Leigh Zito, and Taylor Vickers.

To purchase tickets, visit For information, send email to and visit


“3 Days of the Haitian Government In New York,” a 45-minute-long video about the recent New York visit by Haiti President Michel Martelly, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and others for the 69th Assembly of the United Nations and other activities, can be seen online. The video was produced by RockMasters Marketing Services.

“This video presentation is the product of a week’s work compiling videos, pictures etc of the speeches and meetings by the President and Prime Minister. It is meant to be informative and to make you feel that you were present for the ride.”

RockMasters is the brainchild of Jean Claude (RockMaster) Elie, the president of RockMasters Entertainment promotion and marketing company.

Visit to view the video and go the Rock Masters website – – for an extensive calendar of events in the Haitian American communities in New York and other areas across the U.S.


An exclusive article and photos on the When Steel Talks website details the West Indian American Day Carnival Association President William Howard’s apology for preventing When Steel Talks from covering he 2014 Panorama competition.

When Steel Talks – the comprehensive website devoted to steelpan – has traditionally covered the WIADCA Panorama, but this year was different and WST was denied permission to cover the event.

In he WST report, “An Apology – WIADCA Boss Speaks,” Howard said “erroneous information and bad advice ultimately resulted in the ‘banning’ of When Steel Talks press coverage.”

To read the entire exclusive, visit Learn more about the When Steel Talks at


The Grand Diwali Motorcade 2014 – a cultural event featuring a procession, prizes for the best-dressed vehicle and more – will be held in Queens on Oct. 18.

The program – presented by the Divya Jyoti Association of New York – begins with a Havan ceremony at the Arya Spiritual Center Grounds, 104-20 133 St. in the Richmond Hill section at 3 p.m.

The parade kicks off from Liberty Ave. and 133rd St. at 5:30 p.m. The procession continues on Liberty to to 123rd St. and turns north back to right onto 103rd Ave., moving back towards to 133rd Street.

Judging will be held outside popular Sybil’s Restaurant, 132-17 Liberty Ave. At 7:30 p.m., a cultural presentation will be held and prizewinners will be selected based on creativity, originality and relevance to Diwali, the Hindu “festival of lights” celebration.

The Divya Jyoti Association of New York, founded by founded by Dolly Singh, is headed by NPR talk celebrity Lakshmee Singh.

Register to participate in the motorcade by sending email to For more about the Diwali Celebration, visit


The community-conscious FiveMyles, 558 St. Johns Place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn is holding its bi-annual “Fear Not Benefit” on Oct. 26.

The benefit is a ticketed raffle that guarantees everyone who buys a ticket a winning prize of an original art work. The fundraisier actually starts with an art exhibition from Oct. 13 to Oct. 26, with the benefit raffle taking place on Oct. 26, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Benefit tickets – which include entry for one to the event and one original art work are 0 per person. Plus One benefit tickets – which include entry for two to the event and one original art work are 0 per person.

For information, a complete list of artists donating to the benefit exhibition and ticket information, visit

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Oct 10, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Bronx historian Morgan Powell is dead

A beloved Bronx history buff and environmentalist was found dead in Brooklyn on Thursday, his grieving friends said.

Morgan Powell, 41, was highly regarded for his encyclopedic knowledge of history, nature and the borough he called home.

Details surrounding his death were unclear Friday. His passing, first reported by the Bronx Chronicle, came as a surprise to many.

“It’s a shock and it’s a total loss to the Bronx community,” said Angel Hernandez of the Bronx County Historical Society. “He had a lot of passion in his blood.”

The outgoing Powell was known for his informative walking tours, talks and blogs detailing the relationship between the Bronx river and the African-American communities surrounding the waterway.

“His tours and lectures became among the most sought after events publicizing Black History in the Bronx,” said Mark Naison, a Fordham University professor who worked with Powell on several projects.

“But what was so amazing is how he did this incredible research without grants and offered his tours free of charge,” he said.

Powell worked at the Chelsea Garden Center in Manhattan for the past six years and was a well-known presence at the nursery.

He also founded Bronx River Sankofa, an effort to archive Bronx African American history, in 2011.

“It is hard to think of another person who gave so much to our communities with such brilliance and generosity of spirit,” Naison said. 

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