Rikers escapee faces 16 to life for Queens burglaries: DA

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

A Far Rockaway man from Eggbert Place was sentenced to 16 years to life as a persistent felon for burglarizing two Queens homes, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

While being detained for the burglaries last summer, Naquan Hill attempted to escape from Rikers Island Prison Complex but was caught, and eventually pleaded guilty to two out of six burglaries early this month, according to Brown.

“In pleading guilty, the defendant has admitted to burglarizing two homes — violating the sanctity of the victims’ residences — in an attempt to enrich himself by taking another person’s valuables,” said Brown.

According to the criminal complaint, Hill entered six Queens’ residences between July 1 and Nov. 28 and took jewelry, electronics and clothing.

The complaint said that Hill left DNA evidence at five of the burglarized homes. He posted photos of the stolen goods on his Facebook account hours after the thefts and police traced the culprit to his home using the Find My iPhone app.

Hill further helped police by registering several of the stolen electronics to his own name, phone number and e-mail address, leaving a digital trail strong enough for the NYPD to be granted a warrant for access to his social media accounts and home.

Once at his property, police were able to recover items from all six burglaries, as well as from crimes committed at other homes in Queens and Nassau County. Hill pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree burglary on Jan. 17, according to Judge Barry Kron, the Supreme Court justice who presided over the case.

After being detained for his crimes, family members say that Hill became stir-crazy in jail after already serving an earlier four-year prison stint for burglary. He was released in March, only to end up in the same position again, which led to his attempt to escape in July 2017.

“As a persistent felon, the defendant will find himself incarcerated for a very long time as a result of this criminal act,” Brown said.

Hill was apprehended during his escape while still on the island and has to go to a pending court appearance before the Bronx district attorney to face escape charges.

Assistant District Attorney Tara A. DiGregorio of the District Attorney’s Career Criminal Major Crimes Bureau prosecuted the burglary case.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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Queens Council on the Arts hosts Caribbean Carnival Gala

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By Tammy Scileppi

TimesLedger Newspapers

What would local artists and arts organizations do without Queens Council on the Arts’ ongoing support?

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) has fought on behalf of the arts and cultural community in Queens and New York City for the past nine years as Chairman of the Committee on Cultural Affairs. He says QCA’s work “has been integral in the rise of Queens as a pre-eminent borough for arts and culture in New York City.”

Their powerful impact on the changing arts scene here over the past 50-plus years is truly remarkable and worthy of a gala celebration. So they’re bringing out the steel drum players and limbo dancers and doing it “Caribbean Carnival”-style. The lively event will take place at the Knockdown Center, located at 52-19 Flushing Ave. in Maspeth, on Thursday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Guests will enjoy a refreshing dose of unconventional entertainment, including Queens-based sketch artists who will be drawing attendees in 60-second intervals. Along with inaugural Cultural Equity Champion Award-winner Van Bramer, honorees will include Chocolate Factory Theater Executive Director Sheila Lewandowski, LaGuardia Airport General Manager Lysa Scully and AKI Development President Aki Todic.

Proceeds will benefit QCA’s Emerging Artist Fund, which supports up and coming artists and cultural leaders in the borough.

“QCA is often the first supporter of an artist living and working in Queens, helping launch the careers of many thousands of poets, choreographers, composers and arts educators. For over 50 years, QCA has helped support the global arts scene, since our artists are the world’s artists in the world’s borough,” Lewandowski said in a recent statement. “For over 50 years, Queens Council on the Arts has provided direct support to artists at all stages of their careers, including emerging and established arts educators, folk artists and artists focusing on community engagement.”

She added: “While The Chocolate Factory Theater does not receive direct support from Queens Council on the Arts, since we are supported directly by New York State Council on the Arts and the Department of Cultural Affairs of NYC, a number of the emerging artists we have commissioned and presented have received funding directly from QCA. That direct support was critical to those artists in the development of their practice and work.”

In another statement, executive director Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer said “Queens is and will always be the epicenter of diversity. QCA is committed to helping artists with roots from around the world to develop to their fullest potential for the benefit of others. Our gala is a celebration of the creative communities of Queens and the people who make it possible for us at QCA to continue to create spaces and opportunities for artists to thrive.”

For more information and tickets, visit www.queenscouncilarts.org/qcas-gala-2018

MARBELLA

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Jamaica man charged with pimping 16-year-old girl

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

Richard Trantham, a 34-year-old Jamaica man, is facing a 16-count indictment for pimping a 16-year-old girl for three months in 2017, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Trantham was charged with compelling prostitution, sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, rape and endangering the welfare of a child, according to Brown’s office.

The district attorney said Trantham forced the teen to have sex with him on multiple occasions, then with various men for money, which he then pocketed for himself.

BAYSIDE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

“The defendant is accused of profiting from prostitution by forcing a teenage girl into having sex dates with men for money,” Brown said.

Acting Justice Barry Kron of the Queens County Supreme Court ordered Trantham to be held on $250,000 bail pending the outcome of a bail sufficiency hearing and to return to court on March 6.

An investigation found that the 16-year-old met Trantham through Facebook in September, when he invited her to model tattoos for him, authorities said.

The girl accepted the invitation, and he took her to his home, where he sexually assaulted the teen on multiple occasions from September to November, the district attorney said.

Trantham threatened the victim with physical injury to also engage in prostitution acts with other men, according to Brown.

“I once again want to stress that prostitution is not a victimless crime and that sex trafficking is an incessant act of brutality and degradation,” the district attorney said.

Inspector James Klein of the NYPD supervised the investigation, which was conducted by Detective Elizabeth Gonzalez of the department’s Major Case Vice Enforcement Division’s Human Trafficking Team.

Assistant Distrct Attorney Jessica Melton of the distrct attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit will prosecute the case, aided by Kate Hall and supervised by Executive Assistant District Attorney Peter Crusco.

Trantham faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

“This teenage girl was finally freed, but she will have to live with this horrible experience for the rest of her life,” Brown said.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by email at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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Two Queens men re-arrested at court house for sex-trafficking: DA

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

Two Queens men were re-arrested on additional counts of kidnapping and sex trafficking young women while at the Queens Criminal Courthouse in Kew Gardens on prior such charges, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.

The DA said Terrance Jackman, 36, of Springfield Gardens, and Zulay Guerrero, 35, of St. Albans, appeared shocked by the new case, which was put together by the newly formed New York City Police Department–FBI Human Trafficking Task Force.

“The defendants have now been twice accused of holding women against their will, forcing them to engage in prostitution acts by instilling a fear in them that they would be physically hurt if they did not do as ordered, and turning over all the money that they earned to them,” said Brown.

QUEENS THEATRE

According to the criminal complaint, Jackman, 36 and Guerrero, 35, were originally arraigned on Dec. 4, 2017 on charges of kidnapping, sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, conspiracy and menacing. Their original bail was set at $250,000 bond;$125,000 cash.

They were indicted last week on four counts of sex trafficking, one count of second-degree promoting prostitution and two counts of third-degree promoting prostitution. Jackman has an additional charge of second-degree assault, according to the DA’s office.

Jackman was ordered held without bail and Guerrero had bail set at $1 million bond;$500,000 cash, according to the criminal complaint.

In the complaint it was alleged two female victims — then ages 17 and 23 — were forced by Jackman and Guerrero to engage in prostitution from Feb. 1, 2013 to March 1, 2017 throughout Queens and elsewhere, and the money earned turned over to Jackman.

In another incident sometime between May 1, 2016 and Oct. 1, 2016, Jackman allegedly stabbed one of his victims in the knee, leaving a scar, and the victim was refused medical treatment and forced to continue engaging in prostitution that night.

Jackman also allegedly kidnapped one of his victims after she left a nightclub on June 25, 2017. He promised her a ride home, but instead, he drove her to his house, took pictures of her and posted them on the website backpage.com to advertise her for prostitution. According to the criminal complaint, Jackman told his hostage she would have to start working as a prostitute for him.

The victim later escaped on June 30, 2017 after Jackman allegedly drove her to a prostitution date. According to the police report, she told the “john” that she was kidnapped and he allowed her to leave. The victim immediately called 911 and stated that a pimp had kidnapped her.

“Although these young women managed to escape their bondage, they will have to live with this horrible experience for the rest of their lives,” said Brown. “If convicted, the defendants face lengthy prison terms for sex trafficking — one of the most exploitative and degrading crimes against women and society.”

Jackman and Guerrero were ordered to return to court on March 8, and face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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Source: Times Ledger

Two Queens men re-arrested at court house for sex-trafficking: DA

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

Two Queens men were re-arrested on additional counts of kidnapping and sex trafficking young women while at the Queens Criminal Courthouse in Kew Gardens on prior such charges, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.

The DA said Terrance Jackman, 36, of Springfield Gardens, and Zulay Guerrero, 35, of St. Albans, appeared shocked by the new case, which was put together by the newly formed New York City Police Department–FBI Human Trafficking Task Force.

“The defendants have now been twice accused of holding women against their will, forcing them to engage in prostitution acts by instilling a fear in them that they would be physically hurt if they did not do as ordered, and turning over all the money that they earned to them,” said Brown.

According to the criminal complaint, Jackman, 36 and Guerrero, 35, were originally arraigned on Dec. 4, 2017 on charges of kidnapping, sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, conspiracy and menacing. Their original bail was set at $250,000 bond;$125,000 cash.

They were indicted last week on four counts of sex trafficking, one count of second-degree promoting prostitution and two counts of third-degree promoting prostitution. Jackman has an additional charge of second-degree assault, according to the DA’s office.

Jackman was ordered held without bail and Guerrero had bail set at $1 million bond;$500,000 cash, according to the criminal complaint.

In the complaint it was alleged two female victims — then ages 17 and 23 — were forced by Jackman and Guerrero to engage in prostitution from Feb. 1, 2013 to March 1, 2017 throughout Queens and elsewhere, and the money earned turned over to Jackman.

In another incident sometime between May 1, 2016 and Oct. 1, 2016, Jackman allegedly stabbed one of his victims in the knee, leaving a scar, and the victim was refused medical treatment and forced to continue engaging in prostitution that night.

Jackman also allegedly kidnapped one of his victims after she left a nightclub on June 25, 2017. He promised her a ride home, but instead, he drove her to his house, took pictures of her and posted them on the website backpage.com to advertise her for prostitution. According to the criminal complaint, Jackman told his hostage she would have to start working as a prostitute for him.

The victim later escaped on June 30, 2017 after Jackman allegedly drove her to a prostitution date. According to the police report, she told the “john” that she was kidnapped and he allowed her to leave. The victim immediately called 911 and stated that a pimp had kidnapped her.

“Although these young women managed to escape their bondage, they will have to live with this horrible experience for the rest of their lives,” said Brown. “If convicted, the defendants face lengthy prison terms for sex trafficking — one of the most exploitative and degrading crimes against women and society.”

Jackman and Guerrero were ordered to return to court on March 8, and face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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Source: Times Ledger

Queens College welcomes new interim athletic director

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By Zach Gewelb

TimesLedger Newspapers

Queens College has a new interim athletic director.

The school announced last Thursday that Robert Twible, who is entering his 20th year with the school, has been given the title.

Twible most recently served as the associate athletics director for facilities and operations. He will be replacing China Jude, who left for the University of Wyoming. A national search will be conducted to find a permanent replacement.

“We are fortunate to have had two such committed staff members working so closely with and inspiring our talented and hard-working student-athletes,” President Felix V. Matos said in a statement. “Rob’s record of advocating for them and our program makes him an excellent choice to serve as Interim Director of Athletics.”

While serving as the interim athletic director, Twible will be responsible for overseeing the daily responsibilities of the athletic programs and will also serve as the liaison for campus facilities, security, building and grounds. Additionally, Twible will have an integral role in the hiring of staff members for the Knights and oversee the campus recreation department.

Lutheran School of Flushing and Bayside

Twible’s experience played a role in the hiring, as evidenced by his recent work. Under his leadership, Queens College has undergone major facility renovations that have generated over $1 million in revenue, according to the school.

“Choosing Rob to take on the interim athletic director role was an easy decision,” Vice President for Student Affairs Adam Rockman said. “Rob’s dedication to and support of our student athletes, as well as his commitment to Queens College, ensure that the department is in very good hands.”

Twible will also oversee the renovations of the locker room and aquatic facilities, with plans for future renovations to the college’s outdoor track facility and soccer fields also in the works.

“I want to thank Dr. Rockman and the administration for this great opportunity. I look forward to building on our successes and helping with the transition for the permanent athletic director,” Twible said.

Twible, an East Meadow resident, is a Queens College alumnus and was a member of the men’s basketball team, coming to Flushing following a two-year stint at Nassau Community College.

He received an associate’s degree in business administration from Nassau before earning a bachelor’s in physical education from Queens.

Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewelb@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4539.

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Corona district leader will likely run in special election for Moya’s Assembly seat

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By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

A Corona woman has the inside track to run on the Democratic Party line in the April 24 special election to fill the Assembly seat vacated by Francisco Moya. Moya was recently elected to the City Council.

Ari Espinal announced her candidacy for the 39th District Monday, the same day Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the date of the special election, and she may be handed the Democratic party line as early as Monday when the four district leaders representing Jackson Heights, Corona, and part of Elmhurst will meet and hold a vote, according to the Queens County Democratic Party.

Espinal is one of the four district leaders having served in that position for the last four years. She also spent nearly 10 years working on Moya’s staff before he decided to run for the council seat vacated by Julissa Ferreras-Copeland when she retired. Espinal’s campaign was immediately bolstered by Moya’s strong endorsement.

“As a lifelong resident of Central Queens, I understand the challenges facing our diverse and growing community,” Espinal said. “I am the proud daughter of a union family, and I know that our communities thrive when there are good jobs with fair-paying wages. Now, more than ever before, our state leaders must be a bulwark against the hate and divisiveness coming from the Trump extremists in Washington. I am ready to continue making New York a progressive beacon for our nation. Closer to home, I will be an aggressive advocate to solve local neighborhood issues, making our corner of Queens a great place to live, raise a family, and retire.”

Espinal called Moya a mentor for decades, one whose legacy she is eager to continue.

“We need leaders like Ari to fight for us in Albany because she truly understands the issues facing Queens families and seniors,” Moya said in his endorsement of Espinal. “Ari will stand up for all working families, immigrants and New Yorkers.”

The Queens County GOP has not decided on a candidate for the April 24 special election.

“I have been in touch with the district leaders in the Assembly District, since it is ultimately up to them and their committee members to field and chose a candidate,” Queens County Republican Party Chairwoman Joann Ariola said.

Jackson Heights attorney Catalina Cruz, 35, a former Ferreras-Copeland Chief of Staff, announced she was running for Moya’s seat following the governor’s proclamation Monday.

“Unfortunately, the special election process for the State Assembly does not allow for Democratic primary voters to decide who represents them on the Democratic Party ballot line,” Cruz said. “I am proud of the coalition we are building, my vision for the future, and my experience in getting things done. I look forward to earning the support of our community when they vote in the real election on Tuesday, September 11th.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

BAYSIDE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

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Source: Times Ledger

Report on congestion pricing shows NE Queens will be most affected

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By Mark Hallum

TimesLedger Newspapers

Non-profit advocacy group Tri-State Transportation Campaign reinforced the assessment from the Fix NYC panel that congestion pricing would only affect around four percent of outer borough drivers in a new report.

The Fix NYC panel proposal, released in January to implement congestion pricing, keeps traditionally free bridges into Manhattan free while only imposing fees on vehicles entering a central business district from 60th Street to South Ferry.

The new report from Tri-State breaks down driver information based off demographics from “U.S. Census 2011-2015: 5-Year American Community Survey” by state Senate and Assembly districts.

According to the report, the farther west the district, the less impact congestion pricing will have on commuters.

The district farthest to the east, that of Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), will have the heaviest impact with about 5.7 percent of drivers expected to pay the $11.52 toll for entering lower Manhattan.

Terrace On The Park

Braunstein did not offer a statement regarding the toll but Chief of Staff David Fischer said simply that the assemblyman “is opposed to the plan proposed by Governor Cuomo’s Fix NYC congestion pricing panel.”

The district with the lightest impact is that of Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) with only 2.6 percent projected impact, which is in league with other districts such as that of Assemblyman Jefferion Aubrey (D-Corona) and is representative of accessibility to subways for residents.

Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), a staunch opponent of congestion pricing since Governor Andrew Cuomo announced over the summer it was an idea “whose time has come,” said that although four percent seems like a small metric it may have a surprising impact on a large population.

“The answer is in how one counts. About 1 million people in the other boroughs commute to Manhattan to work. 118K represents almost 12% of all those people,” Grodenckik said on Twitter.

Grodenchik’s district is mostly within that of Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing), whose constituents will see about 4.8 percent impact.

Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) stood with Grodenchik and state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) after the release of the proposal at a Manhattan rally opposing the plan. Comrie’s district would be impacted 3.6 percent according to the report.

“Congestion pricing would be disastrous for Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island residents,” Weprin said. “The tolls would inadvertently place a tax [on] middle-class communities and small businesses in these areas and raise the cost of goods and services from these areas while also limiting the competitive ability of local businesses.

“On top of that, private drivers who rely on the free bridges would have to pay each and every time they travel into the city, in addition to the vehicle registration fees, fuel taxes and other garage fees charged to New York City drivers. New York cannot afford to break the backs and empty the wallets of its outer-borough locals to ‘Fix NYC.’”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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QPAC announces new season of diverse entertainment

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By Merle Exit

TimesLedger Newspapers

There’s another fabulous season of performances coming to the Queensborough Performing Arts Center on the campus of Queensborough Community College. Highlights of the February and March calendar include Russian dancers, a tribute to two of pop’s greatest pianists, and a celebration of the Lunar New Year.

Lunar New Year 2018 celebrates the Year of the Dog, and the Feb. 23 season opener, the New Shanghai Circus, will certainly have some tricks in store. “The circus sold out last year and is back by popular demand,” said Susan Agin, the center’s executive and artistic director. “Their athleticism and breathtaking, fearless feats leave the audience spellbound.”

Adding to the lunar celebration is Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” one of the most performed operas in the United States. It will be fully staged, with an orchestra and English supertitles, on Sun., Feb. 25. Teatro Lirico D’Europa, led by artistic director Giorgio Lalov, will take the stage for the performance.

“I recommend that you step outside of your comfort zone to experience an opera of this quality and of this magnitude right in the neighborhood,” Agin said. “Nowhere outside of Manhattan can you see a fully staged opera, except at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center. We are so proud of this legacy.”

The appropriately-titled “Piano Men” arrives Sat., March 24. Broadway veterans Craig A. Meyer and Donnie Kehr will play the hits of Elton John and Billy Joel on dueling grand pianos, backed by an all-star band. “This is an exceptional event celebrating two giants of pop music,” Agin said.

Those with a taste for ballet will want to mark down the March 25 showing of the romantic work “Giselle,” performed by the Moscow Festival Ballet.

“When you think ballet, you think Russia,” Agin said. “Every country has its claim to fame. In my opinion, the Russian ballet companies perform with a sophistication, dedication and mastery that is hard to beat.”

You may also want to look ahead to April, when Brian Stokes Mitchell will perform songs from Broadway hits and Tony Orlando will appear in concert.

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

QPAC is located at 222-05 56th Ave. in Bayside. Call the box office at (718) 631–6311 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Source: Times Ledger

Queens DA briefs elected officials on successful 2017

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By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown briefed the borough’s elected officials at his 26th legislative breakfast, held at his Kew Gardens offices last Friday.

The public safety update highlighted key accomplishments and initiatives over the past year that saw the borough contribute to New York City’s historic decline in serious crime.

“Last year was another eventful and exciting year for us,” Brown said. “It was a year in which we were once again among the City’s leaders in crime reduction — and it was a year in which we, as prosecutors, contributed greatly to the city’s historic decline in serious crime through our law enforcement initiatives and the utilization of cutting-edge intervention and prevention programs — which, in turn, have created safer neighborhoods for our residents.”

According to NYPD statistics, Queens saw an overall reduction is serious crimes of nearly 8 percent last year as opposed to 5.4 percent citywide.

BAYSIDE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

“We only had 50 homicides last year — which is the second lowest number of homicides since 1961, and a far cry from the 361 homicides that we had in 1991 — my first year as district attorney,” Brown said. “In 2017, we handled over 57,000 arrest cases. And once again, we had the best arrest to arraignment time in the city. We also had the highest violent felony conviction rate in the city.”

Brown pointed to a dramatic advancement in technology as a contributing factor in helping his office excel at fighting crime.

“We are completely computerized,” he said. “We are linked together by modern voicemail, text messaging and mobile phone systems, and our NYPD Command Center keeps us apprised of everything and anything that is happening in Queens County at all hours of the day and night.”

Brown added that Queens continued to lead the City in many significant categories such as: having the highest domestic violence conviction rate and the lowest dismissal rate; having assistant district attorneys supervise nearly 350 lineups at precincts; and the dismantling of auto theft rings, resulting in a dramatic decrease in auto crimes. In 1991, Queens had 52,000 cars reported stolen and that number was down to less than 1,600 last year.

“We have a first-class Child Advocacy Center here on Queens Boulevard that handles all of our child abuse cases,” Brown said. “And the Family Justice Center assists victims of domestic violence along with their families.”

Brown was also proud of the third anniversary of the District Attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, which was created to help the nearly 50 percent of Queens residents born abroad navigate the criminal justice system.

“We are a busy metropolitan prosecutor’s office of professionals committed to the highest level of professionalism,” Brown said during his conclusion. “We are an office that I believe is among the best in the State — indeed the best in the country. We have the respect of our law enforcement colleagues and the confidence of the 2.3 million residents of Queens County, whom we represent, but we need your help to secure the resources necessary to continue to reduce the level of violence within the County and improve the quality of the lives of our residents.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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Source: Times Ledger