Brooklyn Boro

What’s News, Breaking: Friday, February 24, 2023

February 24, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
Share this:

RESTLER’S ‘FRIENDS OF MTA STATION’ INITIATIVE AIMS TO ADDRESS SUBWAY ISSUES AT FIVE STATIONS

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS TO WILLIAMSBURG — Brooklyn City Councilmember Lincoln Restler is launching “Friends of MTA Station” — a new volunteer-driven initiative that will first prioritize five of the busiest stations with the most complaints in his district: High Street (A/C lines), the Borough Hall hub Jay Street-MetroTech hub, the Bedford Avenue L stop and the Nassau Avenue G station. The councilman’s office reports that each station will have an assigned group of volunteers — including local business owners and leaders of local organizations — who will conduct walk-throughs of the stations, make note of issues and complaints, meet with MTA officials and stay abreast of the agency’s ongoing plans.

The groups will be “not only advocating for direct improvements to stations, but also supporting greater funding for the MTA’s capital and maintenance budgets at the city, state and federal levels to improve conditions while maintaining fare levels,” Restler said. Constituents interested in participating may sign up online.

✰✰✰

VIGILANCE URGED IN ADVANCE OF ‘DAY OF HATE’ EVENTS

NATIONWIDE — Police and faith-based groups nationwide are urging the Jewish and Muslim communities to be vigilant and support each other ahead of an anti-Semitic “Day of Hate” planned for this Saturday by neo-Nazi groups around the country. The New York City Police Department’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureau noted in an allegedly-leaked internal memo to a major news agency that hate groups are “instructing like minded individuals to drop banners, place stickers and flyers, or scrawl graffiti as a form of biased so-called action.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, has condemned the ‘Day of Hate’ and encouraged American Muslims to offer support to their Jewish neighbors.

Cities around the U.S. have been issuing similar alerts, including in Chicago and Los Angeles.

✰✰✰

FT. HAMILTON ARMY GARRISON GETS MAJOR INVESTMENT FROM DEFENSE DEPT.

FORT HAMILTON — The Department of the Army is making significant investments in U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton, in southwest Brooklyn, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) and Fort Hamilton Army Base Commander Col. Brian Jacobs announced on Friday, Feb. 24. Specifically, the U.S. Army has invested more than $27 million to begin the construction of a state-of-the-art Information Systems Node Facility which will provide essential voice and data communication capabilities. The U.S. Army will also invest $30 million to construct a new Child Development Center which will provide high-quality childcare services for service members and their families.

“This investment shows that the Department of Defense understands the important role Fort Hamilton plays as a strategic hub for New York City and our country as a whole,” Congressmember Malliotakis said. “This funding will allow the base to completely rebuild its Information Systems Facility which is currently non-habitable for our soldiers.”

Congressmember Nicole Malliotakis at center, with Colonel Jacobs and Command Sergeant Major Commons. Photo: U.S. Army/Mark Getman.

✰✰✰

BQE LANE CLOSURES CONTINUE NEXT WEEK BETWEEN SANDS ST. AND ATLANTIC AVE.

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Brooklyn Heights and Downtown commuters taking the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (lovingly called the BQE) westbound overnight will need to allow extra travel time during three Wednesdays and Fridays during March. A flyer showing the left lane highlighted in red announces that maintenance work on the Staten Island-bound BQE, between the Brooklyn Bridge (Cadman Plaza/Exit 28) and Atlantic Ave. (Exit 27), will require nighttime single-lane closures from 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Wednesdays, March 1, 8 and 15; and Fridays, March 3, 10 and 17.

A website devoted to the BQE repair project states Mayor Eric Adams’ administration pledge: “…NYC DOT will continue with urgent repairs on the Atlantic to Sands section to ensure it remains safe. Safety monitoring of this section of the highway, including the triple cantilever, will continue through a combination of regular in-person inspections and sensors placed on the structure.”

✰✰✰

RUSSIANS FLEE FOR U.S., NOT WANTING TO FIGHT UNDER PUTIN

WORLDWIDE — Hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens, not wanting to fight under the command of their country’s president, Vladimir Putin, have fled the country trying to avoid military conscription, according to a broadcast segment of Currents News, a production of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. Some have journeyed all the way to North America, seeking asylum particularly in New York — especially Brooklyn — and Los Angeles, which have major Russian communities. One 26-year-old man interviewed on Currents declared, “I don’t want to fight and kill people. I don’t want to fight for the terrorist Putin.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures show that the number of Russians who crossed the southern U.S. border last fiscal year has quadrupled since the invasion started on Feb. 24, 2022. Many of these refugees take a challenging path that routes them ultimately to Spain and Mexico.

✰✰✰

RUSSIAN NATIONAL CHARGED WITH SMUGGLING U.S. SECURITY DEVICES

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN A Russian national has been charged in Brooklyn federal court with supplying U.S. technology to the Russian and North Korean governments. The indictment unsealed on Ilya Balakaev contains several counts related to smuggling devices commonly used in counterintelligence operations out of the United States to Russia for the benefit of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

Because the devices were not readily available in Russia, the defendant created a network of individuals in the U.S. to assist him in purchasing the equipment in the U.S. which he used to repair Russia’s FSB devices, in violation of U.S. sanctions. The defendant could serve a maximum of 75 years’ imprisonment if convicted.

✰✰✰

CELEBRATE ‘DANISH MARDI GRAS’ FASTELAVN IN BAY RIDGE

BAY RIDGE — The Scandinavian East Coast Museum is sponsoring a celebration of the Danish holiday Fastelavn, which like Mardi Gras is a pre-Easter Carnival festival, this Saturday in Bay Ridge, featuring music, traditional foods, craft activities and more. Attendees are encouraged to come in costume to eat cream buns and decorate spring branches at Vesuvio’s on 3rd Avenue from 1 .p.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 25.

Adult tickets cost $60 and include a four-course meal and admission to the festivities, while children under 14 are $20 and children under 5 are free; for reservations (which are encouraged), contact Museum president Victoria Hofmo at 347-860-1932.

✰✰✰

DEPUTY MAYOR FOR PUBLIC SAFETY BANKS TO HOLD BRIEFING ON PUBLIC SAFETY IN NEW YORK CITY

CITYWIDE — Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III, along with NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh and other public safety officials, will on Friday hold a virtual briefing to take New Yorkers’ questions and update them on the Adams administration’s ongoing public safety efforts. This virtual briefing is the first in a series of updates on the state of public safety in NYC and will include announcements on new and ongoing public safety initiatives, tips for the public on how to protect themselves against crime, significant events and other issues of importance related to public safety.

Members of the public can submit questions in advance of the briefing, which is set to take place on Friday, Feb. 24, at noon and can be viewed on the mayor’s YouTube, Facebook or Twitter pages.

✰✰✰

POLICE SEARCH FOR MISSING RED HOOK WOMAN

Missing Red Hook woman Maria Sosa.

RED HOOK — Police are asking the public for help in searching for Maria Sosa, 54, last seen on the morning of Thursday, Feb. 23, leaving her residence in the Red Hook Houses. She is described as being 5’5″ tall, weighing 120 pounds with a light complexion, average build, brown hair and brown eyes; she was last seen wearing blue flower-print tights and a light-colored shirt.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782); or, log onto the Crime Stoppers website or Tweet @NYPDTips.

 

✰✰✰

GOLDMAN ANNOUNCES VOTING RIGHTS BILL

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman on Thursday announced the Early Voting Act as his first bill in Congress, which would require a minimum of 14 full days of in-person early voting for federal elections across the country. The bill would also require that election officials maximize polling place accessibility, and would take steps to address unacceptably long wait times for voters in line to cast their ballots and for election results by mandating that election officials start processing and scanning ballots at least 14 days prior to Election Day.

“The first target of those who want to unravel our democracy is always the ballot box. That’s why you’re seeing states systemically peel away the right to vote and how people vote. Congressmember Goldman’s legislation is a step forward in protecting our access to the polls and ensuring our vote is counted,” said Rev. Al Sharpton in a press statement.

✰✰✰

CITY COUNCIL TO HOLD HEARING ON FACIAL RECOGNITION TECH

CITYWIDE — The City Council’s Consumer and Worker Protection Committee will on Friday hold a hearing on the use of facial recognition technology in New York City businesses, including entertainment venues and retail establishments, seeking to determine how businesses use facial recognition technology as well as what benefits and risks the technology poses. In addition, the Committee will consider legislation that would disclose service fee charges associated with tickets to entertainment events in New York City.

The meeting will take place on Friday, Feb. 24, at 10 a.m. in 240 Broadway’s 14th floor meeting room; the public can view the livestream on the City Council’s official website.

✰✰✰

VERNIKOV HELPS TO REMOVE SUNKEN BOATS FROM BAY

Workers inspect the derelict vessels. Photo: Councilmember Inna Vernikov.

SHEEPSHEAD BAY — On Friday at 11 a.m., NYC Parks Chief of Waterfront and Marine Operations Nate Grove and City Councilmember Inna Vernikov will team up to remove derelict vessels in Sheepshead Bay. Three sunken sailboats will be removed via a tow boat and inflatable lift bags, with an experienced dive team on site to assist, made possible by a $55,000 allocation from Councilmember Vernikov.

“Several of these have been sunken for years. Abandoned derelict boats are a big problem in NYC’s waterways, presenting ecological, transportation and safety hazards,” the councilmember wrote on Twitter.

Workers inspect the derelict vessels. Photo: Councilmember Inna Vernikov.

✰✰✰

BROOKLYN COLLEGE ANNOUNCES NEW ATHLETICS DIRECTOR

MIDWOOD — Brooklyn College on Thursday announced the selection of Erik Smiles as its new Director of Athletics, Recreation, and Intramurals, following the retirement of longtime director Bruce Filosa — who had helmed the college’s athletics department since 1992 — and a national search for his replacement. Smiles, previously of Hostos Community College, has led multiple basketball teams to NCAA and NJCAA tournaments over the course of his career, including taking the Farmingdale State Rams to the Elite Eight in 2009, and is the recipient of eight Coach of the Year awards.

“It is an honor to follow a legend like Bruce Filosa. He did an amazing job building this athletics program from scratch when we rejoined the NCAA D3 ranks in 1992. Bruce’s passion for the student athletes, his love of competition and his dedication to Brooklyn College shines through in every facet of our department,” Smiles told Brooklyn Sports Information.

✰✰✰

FREE CLINIC TO HELP EXPUNGE CANNABIS RECORDS

PROSPECT LEFFERTS GARDENS — Cannabis company Ayr Wellness, in partnership with the Center for Community Alternatives, will host a free clinic on Sunday, Feb. 26, to support Brooklynites with past convictions for marijuana-related offenses. The clinic will provide attendees with legal services and help them connect with programs to assist in finding housing and employment and in re-entering society.

The clinic will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the BKLYN Commons coworking space; walk-ins are welcome but Ayr encourages people who want expungement services to pre-register on its website.

✰✰✰

GOVERNOR BREAKS GROUND FOR KENNEDY AIRPORT’S NEW TERMINAL 6

CITYWIDE — Travelers frequenting John F. Kennedy International Airport will soon have a state-of-the-art new terminal. Governor Kathy Hochul and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey celebrated the groundbreaking for the $4.2 billion project to develop a new, 1.2 million square foot, state-of-the-art new Terminal 6 on the airport’s north side. Terminal 6 will have 10 new gates — including nine wide-body gates — and in the process will create 4,000 jobs, including 1,800 jobs in construction.

This project — the final stage of the JFK Vision Plan to break ground — will complete the transformation of the airport into a 21st century global gateway.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (7th from right, behind blue sign) celebrates the final phase of the JFK Transformation with the groundbreaking for a new $4.2 billion Terminal 6. Photo: Office of Governor Kathy Hochul.

✰✰✰

IN MEMORIAM

BROOKLYN NATIVE PAUL BERG, 96, WON 1980 NOBEL CHEMISTRY PRIZE

CONEY ISLAND & STANFORD UNIVERSITY CAMPUS, CA — Paul Berg, Brooklyn-born Nobel Prize-winning biochemist who won the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, died on Feb. 15, at his campus home at Stanford, reports New York Times’ obituary writer Don R. Hecker. A pioneer of genetic engineering through his successful combining of DNA from two distinct organisms, Berg also organized the historic 1975 conference on this discipline in Asilomar, California, which set a precedent in proactive ethics for marking the first-time scientists convened to create regulations for their own research.

Berg credited his alma mater, Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island — and, particularly Sophie Wolfe, who maintained the science department supply room— with nurturing his passion in this field.  “Her love of young people and interest in science led her to start an after-school program of science clubs,” Berg once wrote in an autobiographical piece for the Nobel Prize.

✰✰✰

SEVERAL BROOKLYN JUDGES SUPPORT #RIGHT2REMAINSILENT ACT FOR JUVENILES

STATEWIDE — The Legal Aid Society hailed 17 sitting and former judges law enforcement officials and child advocates — including several from Brooklyn — for their support of the #Right2RemainSilent Act, that would codify juvenile New Yorkers’ right to counsel before a custodial police interrogation. This bill would modify the Family Court Act and Criminal Procedure Law to ensure that any child under age 18 consult with a lawyer before being subjected to custodial interrogation by law enforcement, and would require the police to notify a parent before taking a child into custody at a precinct.

Brooklyn jurists and law enforcement officials declaring written support include current sitting Kings County Civil Court Judge Sandra E. Roper; current Judicial Hearing Officer Susan S. Danoff for the Family Court on Jay St. in Downtown Brooklyn; retired State Family Court Judge Paul H. Grosvenor who is still Brooklyn-based; and retired Kings County Family Court Judge Emily Olshansky.

✰✰✰

MTA WILL AWARD CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS FOR SUBWAY ELEVATOR UPGRADES

BOROUGHWIDE — Several Brooklyn subway stops in Brooklyn, ranging from Greenpoint to Sunset Park and East New York, will get new elevators as part of the MTA’s commitment to making the NYC Subway 95% accessible. The MTA has scheduled 17 stations through the system for contract awards during 2023, as part of the 2020-2024 Capital Program, funded with $5.2 billion and considered the most ambitious accessibility program in the transit agency’s history.

The Brooklyn stations slated for contract awards are New Lots Ave. (IRT, # 3 train); the Classon Ave. G train stop, the Sunset Park 36th St. D, N and R station and three Broadway Junction stations covering the A & C trains, the L train and the J and Z trains.

✰✰✰

UPGRADED SUBWAY STATIONS WILL OPEN LATER THIS YEAR

WILLIAMSBURG TO SUNSET PARK — Also as part of the MTA’s 2020-2024 Capital Program, 12 new stations, including some in Brooklyn that are already undergoing upgrades, will open this year.

Stations at which construction contract awards were already made include the Lorimer St. and Grand St. L train stops in Williamsburg, the Metropolitan Ave. G train stop, the 7th Ave. stop in Park Slope on the F and G lines, and the southbound track of the 8th Ave. N train in Sunset Park near Bensonhurst.

“We are determined to make the NYC Transit system fully accessible, not just for persons with disabilities, but also for seniors, for parents with children who are in strollers and travelers with luggage,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber.

✰✰✰

OZY MEDIA FOUNDER CHARGED IN BROOKLYN COURT WITH FRAUD AND ID THEFT

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Ozy Media founder Carlos Watson was arrested Thursday morning, Feb. 23, on charges of having allegedly defrauded investors of tens of millions of dollars through fraudulent misrepresentations and impersonated media company executives during negotiations. Watson, along with senior executives at the California-based media and entertainment company, stand accused of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud; Watson is additionally charged with aggravated identity theft for his alleged role in the impersonation of multiple media company executives in communications with Ozy’s lenders and prospective investors in furtherance of the fraud schemes.

Arraigned Thursday before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak in Brooklyn federal court, Watson faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years’ imprisonment and a maximum sentence of 37 years’ imprisonment if convicted.

 ✰✰✰

CONEY TEENS INDICTED FOR MURDER, ASSAULT IN STABBING DEATH

CONEY ISLAND — Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez on Wednesday announced that three teenagers have been arraigned on an indictment in which they are variously charged with murder, manslaughter and gang assault for allegedly fatally attacking a 17-year-old boy in Coney Island in an after-school assault stemming from a dispute over a girl. Gonzalez said that, according to the investigation, on the afternoon of Jan. 20, the victim, Nyheem Wright, 17, was in front of a strip mall located at 3001 Mermaid Avenue with his twin brother when he was allegedly surrounded by the defendants and a fight ensued, in which the two older defendants allegedly kicked and punched Nyheem about the head and body and the youngest defendant allegedly charged at the victim and stabbed him in the torso.

The three defendants, aged 13, 14 and 15, turned themselves in to authorities two days after the incident; Wright was rushed to the hospital by EMS but was unable to be saved.

✰✰✰

MAYOR FIRES BACK AT DESANTIS AFTER TWITTER BEEF

CITYWIDE — Mayor Adams on Wednesday responded to Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s Monday criticisms of NYC on WABC’s “Sid and Friends in the Morning” show, citing Florida’s higher murder rate as a defense against accusations that NYC has a crime problem. DeSantis had traveled to the city earlier this week to give a speech at a law enforcement conference in Staten Island, prompting Adams to issue a frosty Tweet referencing DeSantis’ controversial conservative social policies and offering to “teach [him] something about values.”

“When you look at Florida per 100,000 residents, they had 7.3 murders per 100,000 residents in ’21, and ours was 5.5 per 100,000. So when you rail about something, about New York crime is an issue, the numbers just don’t add up in comparison to Florida,” Adams said.

✰✰✰

WILLIAMSBURG WINTER WINE & DINE HEATS UP GRAND STREET

WILLIAMSBURG — The Grand Street BID is hosting its annual Winter Wine & Dine this week until March 6, featuring 11 local restaurants and six bars offering prix-fixe dinners from $23 and drink specials in celebration of local cuisine. “Wine and Dine has historically brought hundreds of additional diners to participating restaurants during some of the slowest weeks of the season,” wrote the BID in a press release, describing the event as a more affordable neighborhood alternative to NYC’s Restaurant Week.

Information about participating restaurants and menus can be found on the Grand Street BID’s website; the group is also holding a contest where diners who share photos of their meals on social media with the hatchtag #DineonGrand have a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to the restaurant of their choice.

✰✰✰

RED HOOK LIBRARY TO CLOSE FOR TWO YEARS

RED HOOK — Red Hook’s branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is set to close next month on March 17 for renovations, reports the Brooklyn Paper, and will remain shuttered into 2025. Planned upgrades include not only cosmetic fixes, but also flood protection features, extra space for patrons, a new reading/activity room for kids, a landscaped outdoor area and a dedicated area for teens.

The library says that the renovations have been necessary ever since it sustained significant damage during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and that it is seeking to partner with neighborhood organizations to ensure area residents still have access to books and programs during the shutdown period.

✰✰✰

GOLDMAN, MALLIOTAKIS: HELP GET FUNERAL VISA FOR TRUCK VICTIM’S MOTHER

BROOKLYN — U.S. Reps. Dan Goldman and Nicole Malliotakis on Tuesday announced that, along with Rep. Grace Meng of Queens, they are seeking to help secure a visa for the mother of YiJie Ye, the single father who was struck and killed by a U-Haul truck that plowed through the streets of Brooklyn last week. The three congressmembers will be working with the U.S. Embassy in Guangzhou, China to help obtain the visa for ShuiYing Jiang, so that she can travel to New York from her home in Fuzhoui, China to help plan and attend her son’s funeral, and be with Ye’s three children, her grandchildren, at this difficult time.

The 44-year-old was the only fatal casualty of the shocking attack, carried out by 62-year-old Weng Sor, who was reportedly undergoing a mental health episode and told authorities that he believed it was “judgment day.”

✰✰✰

FAMILY SEARCHES FOR MISSING WILLIAMSBURG PASTOR

Have you seen this man? Don’t hesitate to reach out to authorities with any information you can share.

WILLIAMSBURG — A Williamsburg family is asking the public to help find pastor Guarionex Santos Lebron, 58, reports News 12, who has not been seen since leaving his home on the morning of Feb. 11. The pastor is believed to have traveled to Queens to preach, but never arrived at his church, with his last known location coming from a cell phone ping near the 7 train in Queens.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782); or, log onto the Crime Stoppers website or to Tweet @NYPDTips.

✰✰✰

BROOKLYN COMMUNITY BOARD APPLICATION DEADLINES EXTENDED

BROOKLYN — Applications for Brooklyn’s community boards are due by Feb. 23, following an initial extension from Feb. 14. Board members serve two-year terms and are appointed by borough presidents; all applicants must live, work or have some compelling interest in the district whose board they seek to join, such as attending school there or being a board member of an organization based there.

Interested? The official application form can be found online; or consult THE CITY’s step-by-step guide to applying for more detailed information.

✰✰✰

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW OF LONGTIME BROOKLYN STATE WORKER CHARGED WITH SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD

NATIONAL — A Georgia resident has been arrested allegedly stealing over $450,000 in New York state pension and Social Security payments made to her deceased mother-in-law, a longtime Brooklyn resident, over a 16-year period. Making the announcement on Thursday, Feb. 23, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Ryan K. Buchanan and the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration Gail S. Ennis said that the decedent, Minnie Smith, was a longtime Brooklyn resident employed with the Insurance Fund from 1985 until her 2005 retirement in 2005. She died about a year after retiring and moving to Georgia to be closer to family.

Defendant Sandra Smith was her mother-in-law’s caretaker and handled her finances. The family did not notify the New York State and Local Retirement System or the SSA of her death and the retirement system received only a change of address form purportedly signed and dated by “Minnie Smith.”

✰✰✰

STOLEN ARTIFACTS RETURNED TO YEMEN

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York — along with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and the Smithsonian Institution — on Tuesday participated in a milestone repatriation ceremony returning ownership of 77 pieces of stolen cultural property seized by U.S. law enforcement officials to Yemen’s government. The antiquities included 64 relief-carved stone heads forfeited to the U.S. by convicted antiquities smuggler and Brooklyn resident Mousa Khouli, 11 Qur’an manuscript pages, a bronze inscribed bowl and a funerary stele from Ma’în or Minaean tribal cultures in the highlands of northwest Yemen dating back to the 1st century BCE; the pieces will be housed at the Smithsonian until full repatriation is possible.

“On behalf of the Government of Yemen, I express my deep gratitude to the US Government… for all efforts exerted in the retrieval and return of these Yemeni artifacts. Ever since the Houthis’ coup in Yemen, our heritage and history have been under attack. The Embassy of Yemen will continue its close engagement with the U.S. Government in pursuit of the restitution of Yemen’s stolen cultural heritage and property,” said Yemen’s ambassador Mohammed Al-Hadhrami in a press statement.

 


Leave a Comment


Leave a Comment