NYPD to fight crime spike with ‘Summer All Out’ initiative

Hundreds of cops will flood city streets beginning Monday as part of an aggressive NYPD initiative called “Summer All Out” to stanch the rise in murders and shootings. More than 330 new police officers will take to some of the city’s grittiest blocks and precincts in an effort to bring this year’s homicide statistics back in line with last year’s historic lows. The officers taking part in the crimefighting program will be assigned to work peak crime shifts — 4 p.m. to midnight and midnight to 8 a.m. — in areas like the 75th Precinct in East New York, Brooklyn (11 homicides through May 31), the 67th Precinct in East Flatbush, Brooklyn (seven homicides), and the 113th Precinct in St. Albans and Hollis, Queens (seven homicides). They will also concentrate on public housing developments with the highest crimes rates. Officials say that 135 people were murdered in the first five months of 2015 — a worrisome 19.5% spike in homicides corresponding with increases in the number of shootings and shooting victims. Last year’s 328 killings were the lowest the city had recorded since it began tracking the figure in 1963. There have been some good signs since the alarming rise in shootings was announced last week. As of early Sunday morning, there were 12 shootings and three murders in the past week, compared with 25 shootings and eight murders over the same period last year. Even more encouraging is that shootings and murders are down in the city’s public housing complexes on the year. NYPD housing cops recorded only 75 shootings in the complexes through the beginning of June, compared with 86 last year — a decrease of 13%. Homicides in these developments were down slightly to 19 this year from 20 during the same time frame in 2014. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton rolled out the same Continue Reading

John Gotti, the Gambino crime boss, is convicted in 1992

(Originally published by the Daily News on April 3, 1992. This story was written by Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci.) With stunning swiftness, a jury brought down the curtain on Godfather-Part IV yesterday. After three courtroom victories in six years, John Gotti’s swaggering reign as the so-called Teflon Don came to a crushing end in an electrified Brooklyn courtroom. “The Teflon is gone,” said the exultant New York FBI boss, Jim Fox. “The Don is covered with Velcro.” After deliberating only 14 hours over a day and a half, the seven-man, five-woman jury found Gotti guilty on all 13 counts in the indictment and on each of 12 crimes recharged under the two racketeering counts. The verdict means that barring a successful appeal, the 51-year-old boss of the nation’s largest Mafia family will die in prison. Gotti will remain in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan until sentencing June 23. When the jury forewoman announced that the government had “proven” the first racketeering crime, the man who became the most infamous gangster since Al Capone rocked slightly back in his chair with a taut smile of resignation. Rise and fall The first “proven” crime was the 1985 murder of former Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano outside Sparks Steak House in Manhattan, meaning that the jury had decided that just as Gotti rose to power with Castellano’s murder he should now fall because of it. As the forewoman continued to call out the verdicts that would be the nails for Gotti’s coffin, Gotti turned to a defense attorney, rubbed his back affectionately and said, “Don’t worry, the fight’s not over.” In the front row of spectators, Gotti’s supporters shook their heads with disbelief as it became apparent the jury had completely lowered the boom on their leader. Besides racketeering, Gotti and top lieutenant Continue Reading

Staten Island teen charged with hate crime over anti-Semitic slogan: cops

A 15-year-old Staten Island student was charged with a hate crime for writing “death for Jewish religion” in Arabic on a school poster Tuesday, police said. The teen wrote the ugly slogan on a poster on the wall of Intermediate School 49 on Warren St., cop sources said. A school safety agent who could read Arabic noticed it. The teen was charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime and making graffiti, cops said. A schools spokesman said the department was taking “appropriate action.” Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Connie Britton joins cast of ‘American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson’

Connie Britton will be working alongside Ryan Murphy again in "American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson." The show's 49-year-old creator tweeted Monday that the actress, 48, would be joining the cast. "Excited to announce my friend Connie Britton will play Faye Resnick in the upcoming FX miniseries," Murphy wrote. The all-star cast will also include John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian and Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson. Britton, who appeared on the first season of "American Horror Story," told US Weekly on March 17 that she hoped she would be able to work with Murphy on something again. "We've been talking about trying to work together again," she told the mag. "Hopefully we're going to find something, whether it's '(American Horror Story) Hotel' or it's something else." ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH VIDEO HERE. Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: NYPD asks Rutgers professors to analyze why some streets become crime hot spots

The path to safer streets could lie in better lighting and trimmed hedges. So says Joel Caplan, a university professor asked by the NYPD to analyze why certain street corners and other locales become crime hot spots. Caplan, who along with fellow Rutgers University Prof. Leslie Kennedy will conduct a study for the NYPD if a proposed contract is approved, said a “holistic approach” to crimefighting can help police predict where hot spots are likely to pop up and minimize factors that could exacerbate the problem. It’s fair to assume, he said as an example, that aggravated assaults often occur outside bars. “But we might find that bars that don’t have bouncers or ATM machines outside the tavern instead of inside are more risky than others,” Caplan said. “So there are situational aspects that could make features of the landscape aggravating or mitigating.” Dark alleys, he said, are an obvious contributing factor to crime, and in fact residents of the city’s public housing projects have complained about poor lighting in and outside their buildings. In a less obvious examples, he said, untrimmed hedges outside an apartment complex could provide cover for thieves and lead to a robbery pattern. The Rutgers contract, if approved in the coming weeks, will run for three years and cost the city $137,044, money the NYPD obtained from a U.S. Department of Justice grant. Another Justice Department grant, for $143,570, will fund a three-year study by Temple University, with professors there analyzing how the NYPD staffs various hot spots. Continue Reading

Spree of paintball attacks against Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn eyed as hate crimes

Three paintball attacks targeting Hasidic Jews — a man and a trio of teens — in a span of a week in the same Brooklyn neighborhood are believed to be related and may have been fueled by hate, police said Monday. On Friday night, two boys, ages 16 and 13, were walking with their grandfather, Abraham Franczoz, 65, from their synagogue when an unknown shooter opened fire with the recreational gun on Morton St. near Juliana Place in Williamsburg. The older teen was hit in the arm and the younger boy in the ankle, according to police. “I don’t feel safe at all right now,” Franczoz said, adding the family didn’t report the crime until after the Sabbath. “I feel that the neighborhood is not being protected,” he said. “If it happened once, I would understand, twice is too much.” On March 22, a 37-year-old man was shot in the face by a paintball as he walked to a synagogue on Kent Ave. at Hewes St. around 7:30 p.m, police said. Another attack on March 22, this time on a teen who was walking from a synagogue, was linked to the others on Monday, according to police. That attack was not reported until days later, cops said. Investigators are treating the paintball attacks as a possible hate-crime pattern. Police did not have a suspect identified and could not provide a description. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

‘Cannibal cop’ documentary, ‘Thought Crimes,’ screens at Tribeca Film Festival

Filmgoers got a taste of what life is like for the so-called “cannibal cop” Thursday night at a screening of the documentary “Thought Crimes.” The film, premiering as part of the Tribeca Film Festival, focuses on the strange tale of ex-NYPD officer Gilberto Valle who was busted in 2012 for plotting online to kidnap, kill and eat women. “When you’re behind a computer screen late at night, no one knows who you are, where you are,” Valle says in the opening scene of the film. Throughout much of the movie, Valle, 30, who spent 21 months in jail before his conviction was overturned by a Manhattan Federal Court judge, is seen at his mother’s Queens home where he served house arrest. Several cooking scenes alluding to the former cop’s creepy fetishes are included, managing to find humor in his strange story. “Nobody’s alarmed I have a fork in my hand with people around? Everybody's good?” Valle asks at one point when sitting down to eat, prompting chuckles from the audience at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea. Valle, who did not attend the screening, insisted in the film his online posts about plotting to kidnap and cook women were nothing but twisted fantasies. “This was something that was private, anonymous, it was a little bit of a skeleton in my closet,” Valle says, brushing off his dark thoughts. Director Erin Lee Carr said she wanted the film to portray Valle in a neutral light and that the audience should come to their own conclusions about Valle’s cravings. “He wanted me to paint a portrait of him as an American family man and I couldn’t do that,” Carr said. “I could portray him as someone you could try and understand.” "Thought Crimes" will debut on HBO on May 11. For info, click here. Continue Reading

Alaska crook’s crimes proved with Crocs shoe treadmarks: cops

An Alaska crook was nabbed after the treadmarks left by his Crocs shoes linked him to the scenes of his crimes, police said. Roland Huntington Grace left the distinctive footprints when he allegedly stole cash from a restaurant and church, and jewelry from an art gallery, in Fairbanks earlier this month. Cops got a tip after a surveillance image from the gallery was posted to the Fairbanks Police Department's Facebook page, reports the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The 21-year-old was tracked down and arrested. During questioning, officers realized the tread pattern of the Crocs he was wearing was the same as those found at the scene of the burglaries. Grace was charged with felony second-degree burglary, misdemeanor third-degree theft, fourth-degree theft and fifth-degree criminal mischief. He has reportedly confessed to the crimes. Grace allegedly broke into The Crepery on April 1 and stole $400 from a cash register. He's also accused of thieving $30 in change from the Church of Christ on the same night. Grace allegedly hit up The Crepery to pinch another $5 on April 3, and about the same time also targeted the 2 St. Gallery to take the jewelry. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

2 Mississippi women sentenced to prison for roles in hate crime plot to assault blacks

Two women who were part of a group that repeatedly searched Mississippi's capital city for black people to assault were sentenced Thursday to multiple years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate on Thursday sentenced Shelbie Brooke Richards of Pearl to eight years in prison on one count each of conspiracy to commit a hate crime and concealing the crime by lying to police. In a separate hearing earlier Thursday, Wingate also sentenced Sarah Adelia Graves of Crystal Springs to five years in prison for one count of conspiracy to commit a hate crime. Both women were riding in a truck that ran over James Craig Anderson in June 2011. Anderson died after being beaten and run over. Six white men, sentenced earlier by a different judge, received prison terms ranging from four to 50 years for Anderson's death. Two more men await sentencing after Thursday's hearings. Both Richards and Graves have acknowledged that they helped recruit people at a birthday party to take part in the venture that eventually led to Anderson's death. Richards admitted that she encouraged Deryl Paul Dedmon to assault Anderson when they arrived in a hotel parking lot, and then yelled a racial slur and encouraged Dedmon to run over Anderson when Dedmon returned to the truck. Hotel surveillance video obtained by The Associated Press and other media outlets shows a Ford truck back up and then lunge forward at 5:05 a.m. Anderson's shirt is illuminated in the headlights before he disappears under the vehicle next to the curb. Richards also acknowledged that later that month she lied to Jackson police detectives about the incident and her participation. The 10 defendants have pleaded guilty to other racially motivated attacks, including the beating of a black man near a Jackson golf course, the beating of another man who tried to sell the suburbanites drugs, attacks on pedestrians using beer bottles and a slingshot, and an Continue Reading

‘Military mistress’ who married 14 service men is stopped, released in Alabama despite alleged crime spree

An Oregon woman dubbed "the military mistress" for her marriages to 14 servicemen was stopped, but released by Alabama authorities Tuesday — despite being wanted for an alleged multistate crime spree. Bobbi Ann Finley, 39, and her latest husband, Zackerie House, 27, were spotted living in a stolen vehicle with a dog in Mobile County on Tuesday, officials told AL.com. The Mobile County Sheriff's Office seized the car but released the couple because they were not facing any local charges. The couple is wanted in three states — Oregon, Colorado and Oklahoma — for writing $13,500 in bad checks, officials said. Finley and House have continued the scam on the road, using a Wells Fargo bank account to purchase survival equipment, officials said. They were previously thought to be driving a stolen 2005 Cadillac Escalade. Officials did not immediately say if that was the car in which they were stopped Tuesday. House is the latest service member to get wrapped up in Finley's scheme, officials said. The Oregon woman has picked up military members across the U.S. and wiped out their bank accounts since 2004, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said. Finley tricked the men, lying about her background and pretending to be the perfect wife, her exes told ABC in 2011. "She's a domestic terrorist," ex-husband Ben Giles said. "As a military member, we were sworn to protect this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. She is targeting military members. She's destroying their lives." The mother of nine was convicted of forging checks in 2007 and for theft in 2010. Authorities ask anyone with information about the couple to contact their local police department. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading