Jan. 29, By Christian Murray
A Boston man who murdered a Berkeley Towers resident inside the victim’s apartment was convicted yesterday of second degree murder, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
Raymond Epps, 58, strangled and robbed Wayne Graves, 62, who was later found dead in his Woodside bathtub.
Graves fell victim to Epps in October 2011 after he allowed the Bostonian to stay with him in his 11th floor apartment, after meeting Epps at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
“The defendant repaid his benefactor’s generous act of kindness by strangling him in his own home and then stealing his credit cards,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A Brown.”His actions warrant a lengthy prison sentence to punish him and protect society.”
Epps, who has been in custody since December 2011, faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
Gerard Torre, a friend of Graves, testified that he visited the apartment on October 16, 2011, and that Epps introduced himself and said that he needed a place to stay and was staying a few nights with Graves.
Torre repeatedly called Graves the next day, but there was no answer. Then on Oct. 19, 2011, Torre went to the apartment and when no one answered he had the building’s super to open the door.
Graves’ body was discovered in the bathtub and his death was ruled as the result of strangulation.
Epps used Graves’ credit cards to buy a bus fare back to Boston. He then used the credit cards to buy merchandise from various stores, which he then used to trade for crack cocaine, according to the district attorney’s office.
Jan. 29, By Christian Murray
The expansion of Bar 43 & Grill is almost complete and the neighborhood sports bar is reopening tonight.
The bar, located at 43-06 43rd Street, has expanded into the space beside it, which was previously occupied by the Sunnyside Meat Market.
The bar now has room for 100 seats—up from 60. The number of TVs has also increased—from 11 to 23.
Nick Murphy and Mickey McCreesh, who own the establishment, started the expansion last summer. They gutted the old butcher shop and revamped it while keeping the bar open.
However, 10 days ago, they closed the bar down to smash the interior wall that had previously separated the two establishments.
Murphy said that their aim was to reopen in advance of the Super Bowl. While he had hoped the expansion would have been completed earlier this week he said he was glad the process was nearly over.
“We will still have a nice start going into [Super Bowl] weekend,” Murphy said.
The owners have put in a sliding door that can be used to cordon off the new space for private parties. However, for the most part, the door will remain open.
Murphy said that they are still awaiting their new exterior sign, which he anticipates will go up in the next few days.
Murphy said the bar will continue to operate the way it did before—offering sports, trivia, restaurant food and outdoor seating (in summer).
While Bar 43 is best-known as a sports bar, Murphy said it will continue to be a venue where families can go out for a quality dinner.
Jan. 28, By Christian Murray
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan announced today that she wants to be the next speaker of the New York State Assembly.
Nolan’s announcement came shortly after Sheldon Silver, the longtime leader of the assembly, agreed to give up the position he has held for 21 years as a result of federal corruption charges.
“I am formally announcing my candidacy for Speaker of the New York State Assembly,” Nolan wrote in a statement. “In my 30 year Assembly career I have conducted myself with honesty and integrity.”
Nolan would be the first woman to get the top job and it would result in Sunnyside and Long Island City being represented by two high-ranking officials: Nolan as speaker and Jimmy Van Bramer as New York City majority leader.
Nolan is one of a handful of names in the running for the speaker race, which include Majority Leader Joseph Morelle from Rochester, Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie, and Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright.
“Lost in the names that have been mentioned as potential candidates for Speaker is that of a woman,” Nolan wrote. “A woman has never served as Speaker of the Assembly.”
The letter indicated that Nolan would have little tolerance for legislators who sexually harassed their staffers.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that he had talked to Nolan this morning. “She is a very serious contender and I can tell you she is very determined,” he said. She is not just floating her name out there, she is moving on this very decisively.”
Nolan has served on several committees during her tenure.
“I have extensive experience working with constituencies from all over our state, and have indeed ushered many proposals through both the budget process and the legislative process. Whether the issue is education, labor, mass transit or women’s issues, I have been at the forefront of the process,” Nolan wrote.
Nolan also wrote that she has never had a second job while working in the assembly.
“The people of New York State has been my only job – whether it be my own constituents, school children or working men and women in our state.”
Nolan is likely to get the support from Joseph Crowley, the head of Queens Democratic Party that would bring her the full 18-member assembly bloc of Queens.
“It is time for this institution to return to the high standards that the people of our state rightfully demand and expect. I stand ready to work with my colleagues to do just that for the people of the State of New York. They deserve nothing less,” Nolan wrote.
The new speaker is expected to be picked on Feb. 10.
Jan. 26, Staff Report
The Queens Democratic machine is starting to flex its muscles and is calling for Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan to be next speaker should Sheldon Speaker be toppled, according to the New York Observer.
Top officials with the Queens Democratic Party are calling Assembly members in Queens, Manhattan and Nassau County to support Nolan, who has represented Ridgewood, Sunnyside and Long Island City since 1984.
“Queens is calling around, taking the temperature. They’re pushing Nolan,” an Albany Democratic source to the Observer. “They are floating her in case Shelly is no longer speaker so there’s a quick transfer of power and the body can move on.”
Sources say the Queens machine’s three top deputies–Michael Reich, Frank Bolz and Gerard Sweeney–are calling legislators to figure out what kind of support exists for a potential Nolan candidacy, the Observer reports.
Nolan is reportedly close to Silver and the teachers union, the Observer reports. Nolan has also forged an alliance with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who may look to exert his influence over the city’s Assembly delegation if Silver leaves his post.
Support from Joseph Crowley, the head of the Queens Democratic Party, could mean the full 18-member bloc of Queens lawmakers in the Assembly’s 150 member body would vote for her.
Nolan is regarded as one of the shrewder lawmakers in the body, the Observer reports, and would be the first woman ever elected speaker in New York, no small significance to female Assembly members.
Nolan could not be reached for this article.
Meanwhile, Silver, who is trying to hang onto the speaker role as he fights federal corruption charges, is expected to announce today that the assembly will be jointly run by five Assembly Democrats—one of whom is Nolan.
The other four are Majority Leader Joseph Morelle (D-Rochester), Herman “Denny” Farrell (D-Manhattan), Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn) and Carl Heastie (D-Bronx).
Silver’s move will be deemed temporary, so he can focus on fighting the charges of kickbacks and corruption. However, there is still uncertainty as to whether Silver will be forced out.
Jan. 24, By Christian Murray
The city council passed legislation this week that included the co-naming of 46th Street in honor of the late Luke Adams.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer submitted Adams’ name Thursday and provided his council colleagues with a brief description of what Adams was like. “[Adams] was affectionately known as the Mayor of Sunnyside and a terrific man who led our Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and did so much. In fact he helped build the Sunnyside Arch.”
The strip on 46th Street between Greenpoint Ave. and Queens Blvd (by the Arch) will be co-named Luke Adams Way.
Adams, who was a 40 year resident and local business owner, passed away from cardiac arrest on Nov. 10 at the age of 76. Just days after his death several people called out for a street to be named after him.
Adams, who was at one time the president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, was well known by the community for his work with the Sunnyside Woodside Lions Club and SunnysideArtists.org. Furthermore, he was the first recipient of the Sunnysider of the Year award, an award that is now named after him.
The street naming ceremony is expected to take place in spring. However, Van Bramer, Community Board 2 and the Adams’ family will be coordinating the details.
Jan. 23, By Christian Murray
Two officers from the 108th received an award this week after being deemed heroes for saving the life of a LaGuardia professor last month.
Police Officers Corey Sarro and William Calderera were on routine patrol on Tuesday, Dec. 23, when they discovered a professor on the pavement outside the college.
The elderly professor had suffered from a heart attack and was not breathing when the officers arrived. He was lying motionless and he did not have a heartbeat.
The two officers went into action.
Officer Sarro began performing chest compressions while Officer Calderea retrieved a defibrillator. After two attempts to resuscitate the professor, they were able to revive him. EMS then transported the professor to Elmhurst General Hospital in stable condition.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Mayor Bill de Blasio awarded the officers with a Proclamation on behalf of the city council for saving the professor’s life.
Jan. 23, By Christian Murray
A Sunnyside resident is organizing a one mile fun run as part of her quest to raise funds for the Coalition for the Homeless.
Leonor White, who is originally from Spain, is planning to hold the event on May 31st and has already received the permits necessary from the NYPD to use the streets.
The event will start outside Lou Lodati Park on 43rd Street. Runners will then follow Barnett Avenue through to 52nd Street before finishing at Skillman Ave (44th Street). White aims to get 250 runners to participate.
“I think that this is a great way to bring the community together,” White said. “It is also a way to remind everyone of how many adults and children are homeless.”
White plans to make the event a competitive race as well as a fun run.
She said that there will be an adult race as well as one for children (below 16 years of age) .
Meanwhile for most, she said it will be a fun run or walk.
White said that there will be a nominal charge to participate—expecting it to be between $5 and $10.
Those funds will go toward the homeless. She is currently reaching out to local businesses to see whether they will help sponsor the event, which would generate additional funds to go toward the homeless.
She encourages others to get involved in helping put the race together. She can be contacted at email@example.com
Jan. 23, By Christian Murray
Signage that went up at the former Dime Bank location on Queens Blvd Wednesday indicated that a new bank tenant was moving in.
Exterior signs read: “Fisher Bank,” and inside there were posters advertising retirement accounts and current interest rates.
The bank, however, was fictional. It was decked out as part of a set for the TV show Person of Interest, a sci-fi crime drama series.
The bank has been used for many TV shoots. Scenes for the crime-series Blue Bloods staring Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg were shot there last year when a robbery was staged there as part of its 100th anniversary episode.
John Ciafone, the owner of the building, said that he gets a lot of interest from TV and film crews looking to use the bank space.
Late last year a small independent movie company also used the bank for it film.
Ciaphone said the bank will be used for movie and TV sets up until the time the building is demolished to make way for apartments. The building is expected to be demolished in the second half of this year.