• Mon, October 14, 2013 7:56 PM | Anonymous
    St. Louis gangs and New York crime-fighting among topics at Urban Crime Summit
    In Region

    By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter
    4:16 pm on Wed, 09.18.13

    Although billed as a “Urban Crime Summit,’’ one of the key crime statistics offered by the four-day event’s host, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, affected rural Missouri as well.

    Missouri’s per-capita crime rate is the 9th highest in the nation, Koster said in his opening address at Wednesday’s session, the third day of the Summit – and the first of two days in St. Louis.

    His point? Crime in Missouri “isn’t just an inner-city problem” facing its largest urban areas: Kansas City and St. Louis.

    Photos by Bill Greenblatt | UPI Attorney General Chris Koster and Mayor Francis Slay agree that a get-tough approach early on can deter some from getting swept up in crime.
    Still, the attorney general – a Democrat running for governor in 2016 – said there’s no question that St. Louis and Kansas City are grappling with entrenched and persistent crime problems, despite recent drops in murders.

    And he suggested that both urban areas, and the state, look east as they consider solutions.

    Kansas City’s murder rate is 22 per 100,000 people, while St. Louis’ is 35 per 100,000. By contrast, the city of New York’s murder rate is now 4 per 100,000, down from 14 per 100,000 in 1990.

    New York’s success helps explain why the Summit brought in several experts from New York, including William J. Bratton, a former commissioner of the New York Police Department and former police chief of Los Angeles.

    Some of the Big Apple’s tactics have come under fire, such as the “stop and frisk’’ approach condemned by groups concerned about civil liberties.

    Bratton defended that practice, but emphasized that individual rights must be protected. "The great debate going on around the country is the balance,” he said in his remarks, as he acknowledged that there have some cases where police has overused or abused the practice.

    The message from Koster, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and others on Wednesday was that a get-tough approach early on – along with more education and job opportunities – can deter some youths from getting swept up in crime.

    That’s one reason Koster joined Slay is calling for “gun courts” that would deal solely with gun-related crimes and likely impose swifter punishments.

    Police warn of "mission creep"
    Slay acknowledged that other factors contribute to crime – notably, the lack of adult guidance when young people need it the most.

    Said Slay in his remarks: “Too many young males don’t have anyone to teach them how to be a man.”

    For all the concern, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said officials and the public shouldn’t ignore some of the region’s good news over the past decade. “Crime is at an all-time low in St. Louis County,” Dooley said.

    St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson and the mayor both emphasized that the number of murders in the city has gone down more than 40 percent in the past six years.

    But St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said public perceptions can be hard to change – especially when some less-violent crimes, such as vehicle break-ins, are “experiencing a big spike around the area.”

    Fitch, like Slay, also alluded to societal ills that the police chief said can prompt “mission creep,” in which police are expected to not only fight crime, but address the social problems that contribute to it.

    “We can’t do everything. We’re the police,” Fitch said.

    Fitch’s point was that police can only do so much. He pointed to the recent shooting of an 8-year-old in Pine Lawn by a relative who, the chief observed, explained later that “he was angry” and felt like shooting at children.

    Fitch tied such behavior to mental illness and “a profound sense of hopeless, and that leads to a lot of violent crime.”

    Tackling such factors, said Fitch, is the job of the community – not just the police.

    Dooley said the public needs to recognize “we cannot put enough police on the street to stop crime.”

    Gang violence small, but knows no boundaries
    Summit attendees were particularly riveted by St. Louis Detective Jerod Breit’s report on the region’s gang element – so much so that Koster revamped the program on the spot to allow for questions and answers related to Breit’s presentation.

    According to Breit, city police have documented at least 8,671 gang members – almost half of them just since 2008. Of that number, close to 1,200 are in prison, and close to 1,000 are on federal or state parole or probation. Another 257 are dead.

    Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Charlie Dooley listen to St. Louis Detective Jerod Breit, who has been studying gang activity.
    But 1,285 of those identified gang members haven’t been involved in crimes in 10 years, Breit.

    And during the 18-month period ending in June, the percentage of various crimes linked to identified gang members was generally less than 10 percent – and in many categories, a lot less – underscoring Breit’s point that gang violence isn’t the main driver of urban crime.

    Gang activity also has shifted from the streets to the internet. Graffiti on buildings has become less of a problem, Breit said, because gang youth are increasingly doing their “painting” online. In fact, many gang members are spending more time communicating online than on the streets, he said.

    Another change: Locally, more gangs are mixed race, which the detective attributed, in part, to the shift in gang focus to “business” operations, such as drug dealing.

    City police used to have a problem with city gang members running into the county, outside their jurisdiction, and using county communities as “safe havens” to avoid arrest. That’s changing, said Breit, because of increased cooperation between city and county police.

    Dooley said that joint cooperation makes sense: “Crime and criminals don’t have boundaries; criminals don’t know or care that Skinker Avenue is the boundary between St. Louis City and County. It just makes sense to have joint solutions.”

  • Mon, October 14, 2013 7:36 PM | Anonymous
    Gunfire wounds 4 at SOB’s; Hoylman pushes bullet bill

    September 19, 2013 | Filed under: News | Posted by: admin
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    The promo invite for Fat Trel’s release of his mixtape, “SDMG” (Sex, Drugs, Money, Guns) at SOB’s on Sept. 11.
    BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | SOB’s stands for Sounds of Brazil. But last Thurs., Sept. 12, the sound of gunfire broke out inside the well-known Hudson Square music club, at Varick and Houston Sts. Four people were wounded in the incident, which sparked a chaotic, mad rush for the exit by frightened clubgoers, during which some were trampled and left with cuts.

    The shots, reportedly from a single gunman, broke out around 12:15 a.m. right before the rapper Fat Trel was set to take the stage to perform cuts from his new mixtape, “SDMG” (Sex, Drugs, Money, Guns).

    According to police, four people suffered nonfatal bullet wounds. The Daily News reported that two individuals were taken by ambulance to Beth Israel Medical Center, both with leg wounds, and that two others suffered graze wounds.

    Witnesses told the News the shooting occurred near the bar. The gunman reportedly fled the scene in a black car.

    No arrests had been made as of this past Tuesday evening.

    In the wake of the shooting, Robin and Larry Gold, the club’s owners, released a statement, which was posted on Complex, a style, music and sneakers Web site.

    “For 32 years, we here at SOB’s have prided ourselves on creating a safe and fun environment for visitors to enjoy good food and some of the best live music in New York and the world over. “The SOB’s family, along with its internationally acclaimed artists and devoted fans, has peacefully and gratefully celebrated diverse cultures and the music that unites us through its transcendent language for many years. This incident was unprecedented in the long history of SOB’s. We are assisting the police in every way possible to bring this person to justice. Nothing is more important to SOB’s than the safety and well being of our customers. This is a home of peace, respect and positive vibes and we here at SOB’s vow to keep it that way.”

    State Senator Brad Hoylman condemned the gun violence inside the Hudson Square club and said the incident demonstrates the need for state microstamping legislation.

    “The shooting injuries of four people in Soho today is a stark reminder of the enduring need to eradicate gun violence,” Hoylman said in a statement released the day of the incident.

    “We must do more to protect our communities from gun violence,” he said. “Earlier this year, New York took a critical step to combat gun violence by enacting the NY SAFE Act of 2013, which I was proud to support. Unfortunately, the SAFE Act does not include a provision requiring microstamping, a ballistic identification technology that allows police to link used cartridge cases recovered at crime scenes like the Soho nightclub, to the guns and individuals who used those guns in crimes.

    “I renew my call for the State to pass S.68/A.3244 (Peralta/Schimel), which would require any semiautomatic pistols manufactured or delivered to any licensed dealer in New York to be capable of microstamping ammunition.

    “The bill has the support of 100 mayors and 83 police departments and law enforcement organizations throughout New York State,” Hoylman added. “We must finally give law enforcement the best tools available to solve gun crimes like the one that happened early this morning in Soho and get guns off our streets.”

    It wasn’t immediately clear if any bullet casings had, in fact, been left at the scene. A revolver handgun, for example, doesn’t eject bullet shells, though an automatic handgun does.

    Jared Chausnow, Hoylman’s press secretary, said the state senator’s office has been in touch with police about the shooting, but has only been told that the investigation is ongoing. Chausnow said they weren’t told by’ police whether any shell casings were left at the scene, but that Hoylman saw the opportunity undefined since no suspect has been caught and the investigation is ongoing undefined to call for the microstamping legislation. The technique has been shown in states like California to increase arrest rates for gun violence, getting more shooters and guns off the streets.

  • Mon, October 14, 2013 7:21 PM | Anonymous
    3 Newburgh slayings earn Latin King 40 years in prison

    By Leonard Sparks
    Times Herald-Record
    Published: 2:00 AM - 09/25/13
    WHITE PLAINS undefined A City of Newburgh man who admitted being involved in three murders as a member of the Latin Kings received a 40-year prison sentence in federal court on Tuesday.

    Jose "King Gordo" Lagos, 23, was one of a trio indicted on charges they were high-ranking Latin Kings who controlled the crack and heroin trade in Newburgh's East End and used violence, including murder, to punish rival gangsters and their own members.

    The sentence by U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel came eight months after Lagos pleaded guilty to being involved in the mistaken killing of 15-year-old Jeffrey Zachary in May 2008 and the killings of John "Tarzan" Maldonado and Jerome "Rude Boy" Scarlett in March 2010.

    "With this sentencing, and the pending sentencing of Lagos's two key accomplices, the leadership of the gang that deprived the citizens of Newburgh of their well-being has been decapitated," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

    Gordo, Wilson "King Gunz" Pagan and Christian "King Chi Chi" Sanchez were among more than 100 alleged Latin King and Bloods gang members arrested in a series of raids by the Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force beginning in May 2010.

    A 42-count indictment named the three as leaders of a Newburgh Latin Kings chapter that controlled drug dealing in the East End from at least 2007 to September 2012.

    The gang peddled crack and powder cocaine, heroin and marijuana from drug markets in the areas of Benkard Avenue and William Street; Broadway between South Miller and Lutheran streets; Washington and Clark streets; and Dubois and First streets, prosecutors alleged.

    Violence reinforced the gang's power, prosecutors said. Its leadership ordered hits on members of its own gang and rival gangs, attempted to rob a drug dealer in New Windsor and threatened informants, according to the indictment.

    Zachary was killed on May 6, 2008, on Dubois Street, mistaken for a rival Bloods member the Latin Kings had allegedly ordered shot.

    Scarlett was murdered on March 11, 2010, allegedly by Maldonado as the two were supposed to be carrying out a hit for the Latin Kings in the area of Farrington and Lander streets. Maldonado was killed the next day on the orders of gang leadership, prosecutors said.

    In March, a federal grand jury found Pagan and Sanchez guilty of drug, murder and racketeering charges, with Pagan convicted of being involved in Zachary's killing and Sanchez found guilty in the murders of Maldonado and Scarlett.

    Both face mandatory life terms when they are sentenced later this year.

  • Thu, October 10, 2013 12:27 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    MONTICELLO – A reputed member of the Latin Kings street gang, who was arrested for burglary in June, has been arrested again, this time for felony criminal mischief.

    Michael Galicia, 19, of Harris, was caught on June 12 while burglarizing a garage where antiques were stored in the Town of Liberty. He was out of jail on ‘pre-trail release’ when he was arrested again, last Thursday, June 26.

    Gang tag on propane tank

    Galicia and a 15-year-old relative allegedly spray painted graffiti on the Ferndale Medical Arts Center and Handsome Freddies apartments in the Town of Liberty, causing several thousand dollars in damage.

    Sullivan County Sheriff’s deputies were alerted to the damage by a business owner and conducted a series of neighborhood interviews.

    Deputy Richard Morgan eventually developed information that led to Galicia, said Sheriff Michael Schiff, who said spray cans were recovered and a confession was secured from the suspect.

    The sheriff’s office has passed the information on to the school resource officer in Liberty where similar graffiti has appeared recently.

    Galicia was charged with felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a minor.

    His pre-trial release was revoked and he was remanded to the Sullivan County Jail in lieu of $2,500 bail.

    The 15-year-old, who was involved, was referred to Family Court.

  • Thu, October 10, 2013 12:26 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    MONTICELLO – A Monticello man, who is a self-admitted member of the Crips street gang, was sentenced in Sullivan County Court on Tuesday to 13 years in state prison and five years of parole. Franklin Brinson, 21, also known as “Ace-Loc,” had pled guilty to first-degree assault for shooting another man in the face and leg.

    The victim has since recovered from his wounds.

    The shooting was investigated by Monticello Police and the gun used was recovered.

    Sullivan County District Attorney James Farrell said the shooting was the product of gang violence “that will not be tolerated in our community.” The district attorney said law enforcement is “committed to rooting out the violence in the Village of Monticello and sending those individuals who engage in this behavior to prison for lengthy periods of time.”

  • Thu, October 10, 2013 12:25 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    The man charged with shooting a 33-year-old in the head and neck on Roosevelt Avenue last week is a suspected gang member, the Queens district attorney said.


    Authorities believe 20-year-old Pedro Silva of Jackson Heights is part of the street gang M18, the DA’s office said.

    Silva was charged with murder, criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence in the Sept. 20 shooting death of Corona resident Ivan Rodriguez, according to the borough’s top prosecutor.

    Silva, along with several other suspected gang members, chased Rodriguez on the Jackson Heights avenue and allegedly shot the 33-year-old in the head and neck after he fell, the DA said.

    M18, which is also known as “Mara 18” and the “18th Street” gang, is a transnational gang with origins in Mexico and California, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    “In another unfortunate example of the senseless gun violence that seems to more and more permeate our society, the defendant is accused of chasing after the victim with others and fatally shooting him in the head while he was lying helplessly on the ground,” Queens DA Richard Brown said. “His alleged actions were violent and ruthless and the charges against him will be vigorously prosecuted.”

    After the shooting, Silva allegedly fled and dumped his weapon in the trash near 37th Avenue, according to the district attorney’s office.

    Police later recovered a .22 caliber gun, five spent rounds and one live round from a pile of garbage located in front of 37-61 88th St., the DA’s office said.

  • Sun, July 21, 2013 7:35 PM | Trevor (Administrator)
    ALBANY undefined New York’s violent crimes increased 2.3 percent statewide to more than 79,000 last year despite a steep drop in New York City murders.

    State data on serious property and violent crimes still show an overall 13 percent decade-long decline to about 450,000 last year. That reflects fewer crimes in all categories, led by a 62 percent drop in stolen vehicles, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

    “There’s all kinds of things you could point to and say maybe they make a difference, but I think it’s hard with any certainty to say,” Michael Green, ex-prosecutor and DCJS executive deputy commissioner, said of the plummeting homicide rate. They arguably include police anti-gang strategies, the city database for tracking guns and programs providing alternatives to jail, he said.

    While the city’s murders declined almost 19 percent to 419 in 2012, the fewest recorded in decades, aggravated assaults, robberies and forcible rapes all rose slightly to nearly 53,000 violent crimes, up 3.5 percent from 2011, and about two-thirds of the statewide total.

    For the rest of the state, violent crimes were nearly flat at about 26,000 last year, with declines in forcible rapes and robberies, an uptick in aggravated assaults and 265 murders, a 4 percent increase.

    New York City police reports this year show a continuing drop in murders to 166 through the first week of July, down 27 percent from last year, with a 9 percent decline in robberies, a 2 percent increase in rapes and a 1 percent uptick in felony assaults. The report noted 526 shooting incidents with 614 victims, both numbers down more than 27 percent from a year earlier.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking this month at police graduation ceremonies, said the city last year set a record low for both murders and shootings and was on pace to break both records this year.
  • Sun, July 21, 2013 7:31 PM | Trevor (Administrator)
    By sending two reputed Latin Kings street gang members to prison for more than 58 years for a botched murder attempt, the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office says it hopes a message was sent to other criminal enterprises operating inside county lines.

    Justin Alfonso, 18, and Irving Negron, 22, were sentenced Monday for attempting to kill two fellow members in March 2012 in retaliation for stealing money and disrespecting the group, known as the Mohawk Warrior Tribe.

    In June, a jury found Alfonso, Negron and three others guilty on all counts, including conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder.

    “These are dangerous men,” Assistant District Attorney Matthew Weishaupt said. “By sending them to prison, until late in their lives, we significantly reduce that danger.”

    Alfonso, who prosecutors said shot both victims inside a Rip Van Winkle Apartments unit in the City of Poughkeepsie with a stolen .45-caliber handgun, was sentenced to 592⁄3 to 79 years in state prison and 10 years post-release supervision. He was ordered to pay $750 in fines.

    Negron was sentenced to 581⁄3 to 75 years in prison and 10 years post-release supervision. He, too, was ordered to pay $750 in fines.

    Alfonso and Negron were convicted of second-degree conspiracy, two counts of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree gang assault and two counts of first-degree attempted assault, all felonies. Alfonso also was convicted of fourth-degree grand larceny for stealing the gun.

    Prosecutors said he was ordered to kill the victims by the group’s Dutchess County leadership, Timothy “King Tiny” Ramirez, 22, and 43-year-old John “King Whiteblood” Rizzo of Hyde Park, who were both convicted during the trial.

    In court, Alfonso was expressionless. When Dutchess County Court Judge Stephen Greller asked him if he would like to make a statement on his behalf, Alfonso replied, “No, sir.”

    Greller said: “Your gang, its values, are over. And this community will be safe from, in my opinion, a sociopath killer.”

    Greller said he had listened to phone calls Alfonso made, and read letters Alfonso wrote, where he bragged about the incident. Alfonso is alleged to have written that everyone was going to know his name after the attack.

    Alfonso’s attorney Bruce Petito said he believes the sentence was excessive.

    “Obviously we’ll be appealing that sentence,” Petito said. “The Appellate Division will decide if it was a fair verdict or if it was an excessive sentence imposed on a boy who was 17 (years old) when he committed the crime.”

    The prosecution said Negron rushed into the apartment after Alfonso shot Ruben Rivera, 21, in the face and stabbed him. Kymberle Perez-Colon, 21, was shot in the upper chest. Both survived.

    On his way out, Negron held the door open for police officers, responding to the attack, evidence showed.

    Cynthia Kasnia, Negron’s attorney, said her client has maintained his innocence and also plans to appeal the court’s decision.

    Rizzo and the fifth man convicted in the attack, Paul Sellers, 19, of the City of Poughkeepsie, are to be sentenced this week. Ramirez is to be sentenced in August.

    Negron lives in the Town of Poughkeepsie. A residence was not provided for Alfonso.

  • Sun, July 21, 2013 7:25 PM | Trevor (Administrator)
    New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance indicted 63 gang members involved in murders, shootings, assaults, firearms possessions and gun trafficking. videojournalist Ed Alpern reports that police busted members in some of the city’s most violent street gangs by monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

    New York City veteran criminal defense attorney, H. Hershel Katz, pointed out that the defendants were from low income projects. He described them as “kids whose life expectancies to them is tomorrow.” Hershel warned that the cops’ investigative techniques may sound like a sexy, interesting way of getting bad guys and guns off the streets. However, their actions raise troubling question about privacy in the digital age that also affects the law abiding, general public.

    Do you give up your right to and expectation of privacy when you use social media to communicate?

    The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 and Title 2 of that act, the Stored Communication Privacy Act address privacy of email and electronic communications. But social media as it exists today was not around when these laws were drafted. Hershel says this creates grey areas that tilt the scale of justice toward prosecution.

    In the old days, police needed a search warrant to access certain information. But now communications on social media are fair game. Facebook even has a policy stating it will work with law enforcement, and may disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders or other criminal or civil requirements.

    However, Hershel does not think people have simply surrendered their privacy rights by logging on, or posting a status update. He believes common law, statutory, legislative and constitutional rights still protect our privacy and freedom from unwarranted search and seizure undefined even in the age of social media.
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