VOL. 21 • NUMBER 7 • FEBRUARY 18, 2021
2 ‘HILL’ AND BACK
Second Massive Blaze in as Many Months Tears through South Queens Neighborhood
See Story on Page 2 Three people, including two of the City’s Bravest, were injured early Sunday morning battling a blaze at Dollar Jackpot store at 107-12 Jamaica Ave. in Richmond Hill. Photo Courtesy of City Office of Emergency Management
THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 7 • FEBRUARY 18, 2021 | 1
Three People Hurt in 5-Alarm Inferno that leaves Richmond Hill Dollar Store Devastated By Michael V. Cusenza A 5-alarm fire Friday morning rousted Richmond Hill—yet again, for the second time in exactly three two months—injuring three people, including two of the City’s Bravest. The blaze broke out around 7:30 a.m. inside the Dollar Jackpot store at 107-12 Jamaica Ave. Before long, a fifth alarm was pulled and nearly 200 smoke-eaters across 44 units battled the stubborn fire until it was declared under control shortly before 10 a.m. Our units responded in three minutes,” said Chief of Department—and one-time
FDNY Queens borough commander, John Sudnik. “There were heavy fire conditions, heavy fire blowing out the storefront windows. Our units made an aggressive push to put the fire out, but there was just too much fire for them to handle. Commercial fires are very dangerous, there is a lot of stock in the stores and a lot of combustibles. These are dangerous conditions for our firefighters, so we pulled them out to a defensive position, we used an exterior operation. They prevented fire from extending to the adjacent buildings. There [were] about 200 Firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics on the scene.” Photos Courtesy of Michael V. Cusenza, City OEM, and FDNY
2 FEBRUARY 18, 2021 • Number 7 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP
City Pledges to Expand Vax Effort for Seniors
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Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Starting this week, the City will launch on-site senior vaccination clinics and, with the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March, stand up a vaccination drive for homebound seniors.
By Forum Staff Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday announced a three-pronged plan to vaccinate homebound seniors and the essential frontline home care workers who care for them. Starting this week, the City will launch on-site senior vaccination clinics and, with the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March, stand up a vaccination drive for homebound seniors. To minimize risk for homebound seniors throughout the month of February, the City will aim to vaccinate 25,000 home health aides over the next month, offering dedicated appointments in the areas where they live and work. “We are moving heaven and earth to get our senior neighbors vaccinated”, said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Now, we are bringing vaccines to seniors right in their communities, ensuring our vaccines go to those who need them most.” “Throughout the pandemic, we have worked to safeguard and protect our homebound older adults, one of the most vulnerable populations to COVID-19. This plan safeguards their health in a comprehensive manner – vaccinating them close to home and vaccinating homecare workers, who throughout the pandemic have continued visiting and caring for older adults in their home. We are grateful to all homecare workers , who are among New York’s heroes and grateful to our City agency partners and community-based partners who are working together to protect our homebound older adults,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. To meet seniors where they are, the City will set up vaccine clinics at DFTA retirement communities and HPD Senior Buildings. Two on-site vaccination clinics will launch the week of February 15th, with ad-
ditional locations to be identified and prioritized in the coming weeks: Warbasse Cares Program (2844 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn) Morningside Retirement & Health Services (100 LaSalle Street, Morningside Heights) The City will also ramp up vaccination for homecare aides, home health aides, and personal care aides. These aides will receive priority appointments at City vaccine sites, as well as increased access to five City workforce hubs. The City will also launch new sites dedicated to serving this population. Given the instability of the mRNA vaccine, the City will begin using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it is available to provide in-home vaccination for homebound seniors. With the help of City agencies, such as FDNY, and our home health care partners, the City aims to provide inhome vaccinations for thousands of homebound seniors. “Human services providers have worked tirelessly over this last year to ensure homebound seniors had the care and contact they needed to stay home and healthy. The Human Services Council applauds New York City’s plan to prepare for scaled up vaccine distribution for those who cannot leave their homes, work now to get vaccines to those who are homebound, and to take a realistic and holistic approach by including home care workers in vaccine eligibility. The workers who care for our populations are at great risk themselves, and those they serve need them to be safe and healthy. Prioritizing these workers, along with the many other human services workers out in the community every day, is an essential component in helping our homebound neighbors,” said Michelle Jackson, Executive Director, Human Services.
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Cops Gather to Honor Legacy of Hero Det. Brian Simonsen By Michael V. Cusenza On Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, the Richmond Hill community and members of the 102nd Precinct on Wednesday celebrated the life and sacrifice of Det. Brian Simonsen, who was shot and killed on Feb. 12, 2019, by friendly fire in the line of duty. “The Simonsens will forever be a part of our NYPD family, and Brian is our our thoughts today, and every day,” City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. According to court documents, on that Tuesday, the two men indicted in Simonsen’s death—Christopher Ransom and Jagger Freeman—arrived together at the TMobile store on 120th Street and Atlantic Avenue in Richmond Hill. Shortly after 6 p.m., Freeman walked past the store, peered through the windows, and then communicated via cell phone with Ransom. Moments later, Ransom—wearing a dark hoodie slung over his head with a mask covering part of his face—entered the store. While Freeman was allegedly posted outside as a lookout, Ransom is alleged to have brandished a black pistol and ordered the two employees inside the store to remove the cash from the
Det. Brian Simonsen
registers and remove the iPhones and cash from the back room safes. Shortly thereafter, according to charging documents, Ransom allegedly exited the back room and re-entered the main store area—still holding what appeared to be a gun—as members of the NYPD entered the location. According to the charges, after Ransom spotted the cops retreat from the store, he alleg-
Simonsen’s Widow, Leanne, accepts the American flag that was draped over the fallen cop’s casket.
edly exited with the phony weapon in-hand and pointed it at police officers, who immediately began to discharge their weapons. Simonsen, 42, was fatally shot once in the torso. “When NYPD cops take their oath the Job makes a vow in return — to forever
support their loved ones in times of tragedy,” NYPD Chief of Dept. Terence Monahan wrote on Friday. “Today’s mass for Detective Brian Simonsen was the embodiment of our solemn duty to #NeverForget a hero as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with his family.”
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DOB Inspector Charged in Bribe Probe
File Photo Photo Courtesy of DOB
Ginestri has been charged with solicitation and receipt of a bribe in exchange for his agreement to ensure that DOB would not issue a fine in connection with a stop work order.
By Michael V. Cusenza A criminal complaint has been filed in federal court in Brooklyn charging New York City Department of Buildings Inspector, and Queens resident Francesco Ginestri, with solicitation and receipt of a bribe in exchange for his agreement to ensure that DOB would not issue a fine in connection with a stop work order. Ginestri was arrested this morning and made his initial appearance via videoconference this afternoon before United States Magistrate Lois Bloom. The defendant was released on a $150,000 bond. Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the arrest and charge. “As alleged, Ginestri, a buildings inspector who was entrusted with protecting public safety at city construction sites, instead exploited his position to line his pockets with a cash bribe,” said Acting United States Attorney DuCharme. “This Office will vig-
“As alleged, Ginestri, a buildings inspector who was entrusted with protecting public safety at city construction sites, instead exploited his position to line his pockets with a cash bribe,” said Acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney DuCharme.
orously prosecute those who would betray their public trust for personal gain.” According to the complaint, on July 31, 2020, Ginestri re-inspected a construction site in Flushing, New York, after a stop work order was issued for safety violations earlier in the month. After learning that construction had continued during the pendency of the stop work order, Ginestri solicited a $1,200 cash bribe from an employee of the construction company in exchange for the defendant’s agreement to ensure that DOB would not issue a $25,000 fine to the company. In August 2020, an employee of the construction company met Ginestri at a bakery and provided him with the $1,200 bribe payment. The meeting was recorded under the supervision of federal law enforcement agents. The charge in the complaint is an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.
The Pharmacist’s Corner
Presented by Frank Pantina, R.Ph
ALLERGY BUSTING THE EARLY BIRD CAN SHUT DOWN SUFFERING Although some may argue that it’s too early to introduce the subject matter of this column, I’ve always subscribed to the common sense theories behind early preparation. After the fabled terror that March weather can often bestow upon us, comes April-- and the long-awaited beginning of Spring! But the beautiful sights and smells of the blossoms that accompany April are not the only arrivals that mark start of Spring. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says that more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. Among the most common are food, dust, pollen mold, insect stings, animal dander , medications and latex. While some allergy sufferers may only face irritations from minor symptomology, others can have life-threatening reactions and without medical attention, they can die. Fortunately, for those people with less severe conditions, the secret to freedom from those maddening itches, sneezes, scratchy throats and watery eyes, is as near as the counters and shelves of your local pharmacy. A host of over the counter (OTC), remedies available are sure to bring an end to your misery. Leading experts in the allergy field have made the suggestion that treating your symptoms early can lead to reducing the effects of allergy-associated respiratory distress. There is also staunch support for monitoring the pollen count and remaining indoors during the hours when the counts are at their highest (10 am to 4 pm). Other advice is to use filters and keep windows closed during the day. There is also great advocacy for continued spring cleaning--that’s right--mop those
floors and wash the curtains regularly. When allergy sufferers spend long periods of time outside, they can also minimize effects by showering often, washing their hair and clothes to get rid of allergens that are carried into the home upon returning from a day outside. Remember it’s not only your personal grooming that needs focus. Regular bathing and brushing of your pets will greatly reduce the irritants in your home. And as hard as it may be on your heart, try keeping your furry friends out of the bedroom. If you’d like to help your healthcare providers figure out how best to manage your individual condition, you should also keep a journal to track the time of day you symptoms are at the height. Your local pharmacist can offer invaluable advice on many products to ease your suffering. Readily available nasal sprays like Flonase Allergy Relief , Nasacort Allergy 24 HR can treat runny noses, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes and scratchy throats. Next on the scene are Antihistamines like Allegra, Zyrtec that are time released and can provide relief for long periods of the day without drowsiness. Decongestants like the QlearQuil product line offers combined therapies to combat sinuses and congestion. Finally, air filters that fit inside the nose offer protection and assistance for keeping allergens out before they gain entrance to your system . These are drug free products and act to block things like dust, pollen and pet dander from finding their way into your respiratory system. Until Next Week…
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Addabbo Set to Bring Senior Beneﬁts Webinar to Constituents In order to help inform seniors on how to apply for important benefit programs, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. is partnering with LiveOn NY to bring an informational webinar to residents across his district. The live webinar will take place via Zoom, on Thursday, February 25, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Those interested in taking part in the webinar must register by following this link: http://bit.ly/3cVjQcN During the webinar, representatives from LiveOn NY will give information about the organization and what they do, discuss the stigma and misconceptions around receiving benefits, review all of the benefits that are relevant to older adults—which includes discussing what the benefits address, eligibility criteria and the application process—and finish with a brief Q&A and contact information. For more information, call LiveOn NY at 212-3985045 or email email@example.com. File Photo
THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 7 • FEBRUARY 18, 2021 | 5
Task Force on Aging & Families Provides Guidance to Biden on Helping Older Americans amid Pandemic: Dems
Photo Courtesy Rep. Pressley’s Office
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Lamb, and Rep. Deutch are on the Task Force on Aging & Families.
By Forum Staff Last week, as adults 65 and older account for approximately 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging & Families announced a letter sent to President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outlining specific measures to strengthen COVID-19 assistance to seniors. The below letter follows the Task Force’s request to the Biden Administration to appoint a geriatrician or expert in aging services to the President’s COVID-19 Advisory Board. Topline Policy Recommendations to Assist Older Americans: Streamline the vaccination infrastructure with seniors in mind and provide the clear, necessary guidance and funding to support states in this effort. Prioritize seniors of color in vaccine engagement. Strengthen senior-specific nutritional and housing support to meet the rising and unprecedented needs of isolated and foodinsecure adults. Expand and better train the workforce that cares for older adults.Prioritize incarcerated seniors for compassionate release and vaccine engagement. “The American Rescue Plan outlines a strong national directive to fight the pandemic, focuses on high-risk and hard-toreach populations, and addresses racial inequities in the pandemic response. We are especially encouraged by the plan’s emphasis on improving vaccine distribution for seniors, a constituency that has borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic,” said the Task Force Members in their letter, dated Feb. 9. “While the American Rescue Plan has many important provisions to help older Americans, it is imperative that our response matches the severity of this crisis
Photo Courtesy of Rep. Conor Lamb’s Office
Rep. Conor Lamb
and the toll it has taken on this population.” The task force indicated that in order to ensure a comprehensive response to address needs, “we urge you to strengthen COVID-19 assistance to seniors by including and implementing the following policies: Streamline the vaccination infrastructure with seniors in mind and provide the clear,necessary guidance and funding to support states in this effort. Sign up methods, distribution centers, and outreach strategies all must be streamlined and simplified to reach seniors–in particular, those who may not have access to technology. For example, only 65 percent of adults over the age of 65 have an online medical account, which is a common way to sign up for vaccines. 3As more seniors become eligible for vaccines in their states, we have received thousands of calls from distraught and frustrated seniors who are unable to navigate the often multiwebsite, online-focused strategy. We urge the Administration to work with states to develop 1-800 numbers for scheduling vaccine appointments that are centralized, well-staffed, and offer culturally competent customer service in several languages, as suggested by AARP. Finally, vaccines should be brought closer to seniors with distribution sites at easily accessible and secure locations such as senior centers and other aging service network providers. A streamlined, easily accessible sign-up is critical to protecting the nation’s older and vulnerable Americans. Prioritize seniors of color in vaccine engagement. We must meet seniors where they are and ensure that vaccine rollouts across the country are informed by their specific needs. In order to reach marginalized seniors who face compounding disparities, it is important that the Department of Health and Human Services
6 FEBRUARY 18, 2021 • Number 7 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP
and related agencies issue guidance that strategically engages community-based organizations. Communities of color have expressed strong distrust in the healthcare system as compared to their white counterparts, and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Black communities remains high. Community and faith-based organizations have the trust of seniors, have a well-established history of serving older adults of color, and are repeatedly considered the surest method for connecting with under-reached communities. Moreover, using distribution centers that align with seniors’ social and support networks increases their access to vaccine information and equity in who receives a vaccine first. Strengthen senior-specific nutritional and housing support to meet the rising and unprecedented needs of isolated and food-insecure adults. Recent research has found a 107 percent increase in isolation for adults age 50-80 from October 2018 to June 2020. Additionally, by July 2020, there was a nearly 60 percent increase in older adult food insecurity, with 13.5 percent of adults over 60 experiencing this challenge. While we are proud that the American Rescue Plan includes nutritional support funding, none is currently set aside specifically for seniors. Both food insecurity and housing hardships have increased throughout the country during the pandemic and disproportionately affect individuals of color. Increased funding to the Older Americans Act and further investment in the OAA Nutrition Program can significantly reduce the housing and food insecurity challenges seniors face. Similarly, additional funding should be allocated for low-income older adults, additional assistance for renters and homeowners, and greater opportunities for seniors to age in place. Medicare and Medicaid funds should be used to promote the health of
Photo Courtesy of Rep. Ted Deutch’s Office
Rep. Ted Deutch
older adults in all forms of senior housing, and the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage should be increased for Medicaid-funded home and community-based services. Expand and better train the workforce that cares for older adults. Supporting an age-friendly public health system begins with appointing a geriatrician or expert in aging services to 3 the COVID-19 Advisory Board. In December, the Task Force sent a letter to the Biden-Harris Transition Team imploring that it is imperative to have such an individual on the Advisory Board to represent the needs of at-risk older adults. We stand ready to assist the Administration in making this appointment and believe the input of a geriatrician or aging services expert is an essential component of a robust federal response to the pandemic. While the percentage of the population over 65 increases, the geriatric workforce is decreasing, adding to an already existing shortage in providers. Across our public health and health care delivery system, efforts to increase the recruitment and retention of geriatric specialists should be prioritized in order to meet the care needs of a rapidly aging U.S. population. Providing federal support for education and training in geriatric principles and strategies for all providers is an important step to meeting this goal. Prioritize incarcerated seniors for compassionate release and vaccine engagement. We also urge you to support the compassionate release of incarcerated individuals who are elderly. More than 10 percent of the federal prison population is older than 55 years old, and many have underlying health conditions and pose no risk to public safety. Compassionate release would address the intersectional risks that older adults with co-morbidities living in congregate settings face.
Car Wash Tragedy Mother of 3 Dead, Employee Charged with Vehicular Homicide
Photo by Miguel Reyes
A 53-year-old woman was killed at the popular Crossbay Car Wash in Ozone Park when an intoxicated employee struck her with another customer’s vehicle.
By Forum Staff A visit to Crossbay Car Wash in Ozone Park on Monday afternoon turned deadly for Tracie McManus, a 53-year-old, widowed mother of three, who was at the car wash with her daughter Megan. McManus was waiting to retrieve her car when car wash employee Edwin Vargas was moving another car off the cleaning rack, striking her. Responding police transported Vargas, 43, to the 112th Police Precinct where he provided a breath sample that showed his blood alcohol content as .115. The legal limit is .08. Vargas, of 102nd Street in Richmond Hill, was arraigned late last night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Jerry Iannece on a complaint charging him with vehicular manslaughter in the second degree and driving while intoxicated. Judge Iannece set the defendant’s return date for February 19.
According to the charges, just before 2 p.m. on Monday, February 15, 2021, Vargas was working at the car wash and lube shop on Cross Bay Boulevard at Desarc Road at the same time the victim, Tracie McManus was there getting her car washed. The defendant was removing autos from the washing rack and driving them onto the adjacent lot to be hand-dried by his fellow employees. Vargas was behind the wheel of another customer’s 2011 gray Jeep Liberty when he drove the vehicle off the cleaning rack and slammed into the 54-year-old victim, who was walking towards her car after tipping other workers. Ms. McManus was rushed to a nearby hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz expressed disdain over the tragic sequence of events. “If you have a job that requires you to get behind the wheel of a vehicle, coming to work intoxicated is selfish and dangerous, with potentially fatal conse-
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quences. This is a heart-breaking, senseless tragedy and a woman who just wanted to get her car washed is dead… He is in custody and faces serious charges.” Dozens of comments flooded Facebook with messages of support for the family and
8885*4503"(&$0. outrage over the fact that Vargas was driving drunk. One comment targeted the car wash owners and its manager, “…because of your ignorance and inability to control your workers, a family has to lose a great woman.”
Community Vax Center Coming to York College By Forum Staff Last week, the White House announced that the Administration will be partnering with the State of New York to build two new major Community Vaccination Centers (CVCs) in Brooklyn and Queens. The CVCs will be at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens. Together, these sites will be capable of administering thousands of shots in arms a day. The White House is deploying federal teams immediately to work hand-in-hand with the state and local jurisdictions, and we expect these sites to start getting shots in arms in the coming weeks. These CVCs will utilize primarily federal staff in support of state and local governments. These sites were identified using a range of criteria, most central to those is the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index. This tool was created to help emergency response planners and public health officials identify and map communities that will most likely need support before, during, and af-
ter a hazardous event. The index takes into consideration critical data points, including socioeconomic status, household composition, minority status, languages, housing type and transportation. The goal of establishing these joint federal pilot centers is to continue to expand the rate of vaccinations in an efficient, effective
Photo Courtesy of Google
and equitable manner, with an explicit focus on making sure that communities with a high risk of COVID-19 exposure and infection are not left behind. Hard-Hit New York Communities: • Brooklyn is home 2.6 million people, the New York City’s most populous borough • Brooklyn currently has a 7.62% CO-
VID-19 positivity rate (7-day average) • According to the CDC SVI data, Brooklyn has a .82 ranking • In Brooklyn, 21.1% of the population live below the poverty line • The borough is home to minority communities, including a large Black community (32.6%) and a sizeable elderly community (16.3%) • 12% of Brooklyn has a limited English proficiency. • Queens is the largest New York City borough by area, and trails only Brooklyn in population – making it the city’s second most populous borough with 2.3 million people • Queens currently has a 9.56 % COVID-19 positivity rate (7-day average) • According to the CDC SVI data, Queens has a .62 ranking • Queens is home to several minority communities, including large Black (18.3%), Asian (25.3%), and Hispanic (28%) communities • 15% of Queens has a limited English proficiency.
THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 7 • FEBRUARY 18, 2021 | 7
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THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 7 • FEBRUARY 18, 2021 | 9
Authorities Net More than 86 Pounds of Suspected Heroin, 1,000 Fentanyl Pills, and $200,000 Cash in Ridgewood Bust By Forum Staff An accused major trafficker and three other individuals are charged in connection with a large-scale heroin-packaging mill dismantled in Ridgewood, Queens. Approximately 39 kilograms of suspected heroin, with an estimated street value of $12 million, 1,000 fentanyl pills and $200,000 cash were recovered during the investigation, conducted by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, Group T-21, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York. Bridget Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, Ray Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s, New York Division, Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations New York, New York City Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea, and State Police Acting Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen announced the arrests today. NYDETF Group T-21 is comprised of DEA special agents, NYPD detectives and New York State Police investigators. LUIS MARTINEZ is accused of overseeing a narcotics packaging mill inside his residence at 63-16 Forest Ave., Apartment 2A, and faces charges of Operating as a Major Trafficker, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First and Third Degrees, and
Photo Courtesy of Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor
DEA estimates the street value of the narcotics at $12 million.
Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree. Three women allegedly employed by MARTINEZ, SOFIA MEDINA, MARIA ALTAGRACIA BERROA and JACQUELINE SOSA DE ESPINAL, are charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First and Third Degrees, and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree. On Monday, February 8, 2021 at approximately 4 p.m., members of NYDETF Group T-21 and SNP’s Investigators Unit were conducting surveillance as part of the short-term investigation when they observed MARTI-
NEZ, a suspected narcotics trafficker, exiting 63-16 Forest Avenue carrying a backpack. Agents and officers stopped MARTINEZ as he walked down the block and found that the bag allegedly contained approximately $200,000 cash. MARTINEZ was also carrying four cell phones and keys to 63-16 Forest Ave. A short time later, Members of T-21 entered the residential building located at 63-16 Forest Ave. and knocked on the door of Apartment 2A. In response to the knocking, MEDINA opened the apartment door. Inside the living room, agents and officers saw an empty
heat-wrapped bag of a type used for wrapping a kilogram of narcotics. Noises were coming from behind a closed door. Upon opening the door, agents and officers discovered two women, SOSA DE ESPINAL and BERROA, hiding inside a bathroom with the lights off. A search of the apartment revealed that one of its two bedrooms was set up for packaging heroin. Inside the bedroom, agents and officers found 31 pressed, brick shaped packages wrapped in duct tape, each allegedly containing a kilogram of heroin, and an additional six kilograms of loose powder inside plastic containers and zip-lock style bags. A tabletop held approximately 100,000 individual dose glassine envelopes filled with heroin, as well as empty envelopes and stamps. Glassine envelopes bore various brand names, including “Red Scorpion,” “The Hulk,” “Universal,” “Hard Target,” “Last Dragon, “Dope” and “Venom.” All of the equipment necessary for processing and packaging heroin was also present in the bedroom, including digital scales, sifters and grinders. Agents and officers also seized approximately 1,000 blue pills bearing markings similar to pharmaceutically produced oxycodone, but suspected to be counterfeits containing fentanyl. More than 26 cellphones and mail addressed to MARTINEZ were also recovered from the apartment. The results of DEA Laboratory analysis on the narcotics in this case are pending.
Queens DA Seizes 1.7M pieces of PPE Equipment from LIC Warehouse By Forum Staff Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Thursday that an investigation by her Office’s Frauds Bureau resulted in the seizure of 1.7 million counterfeit 3M N95 respirator masks from a Long Island City warehouse before they could be distributed to the public. Detectives from the DA’s Office arrested Zhi Zeng, 33, of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Zeng has been charged with trademark counterfeiting, a C felony, for possessing and selling the fake 3M labeled medical masks. “We are living in a horrible pandemic with more than 450,000 Americans dead from COVID-19. This defendant allegedly sold false hope and security and was set to sell more of these counterfeit masks to whoever would pay his price,” Katz said. “Masks are life-saving equipment for our medical professionals. Every day these essential workers are putting their lives – and their family’s lives at risk providing healthcare to those affected by this heartless disease. We have confiscated the bogus merchandise and none of these unsafe masks will be distributed to the public or healthcare workers going forward.” Peter Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of
Photo Courtesy of DA Katz’s Office
Queens DA Melinda Katz and Peter Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations, New York.
Homeland Security Investigations New York, said, “Since the pandemic began, HSI New York’s partnership with the Queens DA has yielded multiple criminal arrests of those who import and distribute counterfeit PPE or choose to hoard and price gouge legitimate products. The public’s safety, especially that of our healthcare workers, is a priority, and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure that each mask that is worn by our first responders is the real deal.” Zeng, 33, was arraigned last Wednesday
10 FEBRUARY 18, 2021 • Number 7 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP
morning on a complaint charging him with one count of trademark counterfeiting in the first degree. Zeng was ordered to return to court on April 27. If convicted, Zeng faces up to 15 years in prison. According to the charges, the defendant is the warehouse manager and was present in the 51st Avenue warehouse when law enforcement raided the facility and discovered pallets piled high with boxes of 3M-labeled N95 masks – model No. 1860. The building had two floors, roughly 2,000 square feet per floor, and both levels
contained stacks and stacks of these boxes. A total of 1,788,340 masks were seized. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of other types of PPE – including brand-name hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes, children’s masks, construction masks, and gowns – were also found in the warehouse. Queens District Attorney investigators have begun working with companies to determine the authenticity of these products. Katz said the investigation, which is ongoing, began when her Office received information that suspected counterfeit masks were being offered for sale from a warehouse located at 5-06 51st Ave. in LIC. Acting on this information, investigators posed as undercover buyers and purchased masks on several dates to verify the respirator masks’ authenticity. The masks were being offered for sale at prices ranging from $2.95 – $3.25 apiece. According to 3M, the suggested retail price for N95 masks is $1.27. Investigators have identified a healthcare system in the southern United States that bought 200,000 of these same masks from the same warehouse for more than $700,000. The DA’s Frauds Bureau has reached out to our law enforcement partners to determine if any other medical facilities were conned into buying these unsafe masks.
Citi Field Vaccine Site Now Open
Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
“It’s amazin’: the Mets are hitting it out of the park today,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
By Forum Staff The Citi Field vaccination site is officially up and running, Mayor de Blasio announced last week. Operated by the NYC Test & Trace Corps, the site will serve eligible Queens residents, along with priority appointments for TLC and food service workers from across the five boroughs.
Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
Even Mrs. Met rubbed elbows with Hizzoner last Wednesday.
“It’s amazin’: the Mets are hitting it out of the park today,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “They are stepping up to the plate in a big way by making Citi Field a vaccination site for Queens residents and the essential heroes who keep our city running.” “We are proud to play an important role in our city’s recovery and encourage as many as possible to sign up to get the vac-
cine at Citi Field,” added Mets Owner and CEO Steve Cohen. “This is the best path for us to return to some form of normalcy so Let’s Get Vaccinated and Let’s Go Mets.” For its first week in operation, 200 appointments will be available each day, Monday through Saturday, with 100 of those prioritized for TLC and food service workers. Additional days and appoint-
ments will come online with increased supply, with 24 hour service beginning next Wednesday. The site will scale up to administer approximately 4,000 doses next week, and at full capacity, will be able to administer 5,000 each day. Eligible New Yorkers can make an appointment at nyc. gov/vaccinefinder or by calling 877-VAX4NYC.
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THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 7 • FEBRUARY 18, 2021 | 11
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12 FEBRUARY 18, 2021 • Number 7 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP
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L O S
THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 7 • FEBRUARY 18, 2021 | 13
Legal Notices Notice of formation of FOREST HILLS ASC, LLC, a domestic LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with SSNY on 12/21/2020. Office location: Queens County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against the LLC may be served and the SSNY shall mail a copy of any process to: Forest Hills ASC, LLC, 111-29 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, New York 11375. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 7
AUTHENTICALLY ASHLIE, LLCArticles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 12/07/20. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to ASHLIE BOURNE, 117-31 195TH STREET, SAINT ALBANS, NY 11412. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 8
H2A INVEST LLC Articles of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 12/31/20. Off. loc.: Queens Co. SSNY des. as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to the H2A INVEST LLC, 3418 NORTHERN BLVD, LONG ISLAND CITY, NY 11101. Purpose: General. 7
Notice of Formation of ALLEGRE LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with NY Dept. of State on 1/15/21. Office location: Queens County. Sec. of State designated agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served and shall mail process to: c/o Metropolitan Property Services, Inc., 141-50 85th Rd., Briarwood, NY 11435, principal business address. Purpose: all lawful purposes. 9
KALIMKOSELLA GROUP LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 12/30/20. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to BUSINESS FILINGS INCORPORATED, 187 WOLF ROAD, SUITE 101 ALBANY, NY 12205 . Purpose: Any lawful activity. 7
DOUBLE DIMA CAPITAL, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/24/20. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: dmitry choklin, 27-28 THOMSON AVENUE, APT 353, LONG ISLAND CITY, NY 11101. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 9
RICH ROCKS, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 1/5/21. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to the LLC 9118 79TH St Woodhaven, NY 11421. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 7
VERNONBLVD3 LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 12/14/20. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: THE LLC, 6431 108TH STREET, FORST HILLS, NY 11375. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 10
ZUC-CO. PITT LLC, Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 12/30/2020. Office loc: Queens County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against the LLC may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: Peter Zuccarello, 14829 Cross Island Pkwy, Whitestone, NY 11357. Purpose: Any Lawful Purpose. 7
NAMBARII LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 02/01/21. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: NAMBARII LLC, 10426 203RD ST, SAINT ALBANS, NY 11412. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 10
FILRO LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 11/10/20. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to LEGALINC COPORATE SERVICES INC., 1967 WHERLE DRIVE, SUITE 1 #086, BUFFALO , NY 14221. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 11 2645 PARTNERS LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 11/10/20. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to the LLC, 2272 38th Avenue,Astoria, NY 11105. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 11 Notice is hereby given that an Order entered by the Civil Court, Queens County, on the 21st day of DECEMBER 2020, bearing Index Number NC-000623-20/QU, a copy of which may be examined at the Office of the Clerk, located at 89-17 Sutphin Blvd., Jamaica, New York, 11435, grants me the right to assume the name of KAI KIANI COLLADO VAZQUEZ. My present name is NIKIA ELVIRA COLLADO VAZQUEZ (infant). The city and state of my present address is WOODHAVEN, NY. The month and year of my birth are AUGUST 2003. The place of my birth is MANHATTAN, NY.
Notice is hereby given that an Order entered by the Civil Court, Queens County, on the 19th day of NOVEMBER 2020, bearing Index Number NC-000910-19/QU, a copy of which may be examined at the Office of the Clerk, located at 89-17 Sutphin Blvd., Jamaica, New York, 11435, grants me the right to assume the name of BABITA BHAWANI SHIVNAUTH. My present name is BHAWANI SHIVNAUTH aka BABITA SHIVNAUTH, fka BABITA RAMSAMUJH. The city and state of my present address is South Richmond Hill, NY. The month and year of my birth are JULY 1975. The place of my birth is GUYANA.
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RGM ENTERPRISES LLC Articles of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 09/30/20. Off. loc.: Queens Co. SSNY des. as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to RGM ENTERPRISES LLC, 9704 PITKIN AVE, OZONE PARK, NY 11417. Purpose: General. 7 HARRA LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 10/30/20. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to JAMIYU YUSUF, 15-22 202ND STREET, SAINT ALBANS, NY 11412-2837. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 8 MAISONLUXBEAUTE LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 10/15/20. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to MAISONLUXBEAUTE LLC, 83-43 118TH ST, KEW GARDENS, NY 11415. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 8 NEWMAN MOTION PRODUCTION, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 01/07/21. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: JNEWMAN MOTION PRODUCTION, LLC, 118-11 SUTPHIN BLVD., 398010, JAMAICA, NY 11434. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 8
GAMINGTOPTENS LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 01/19/21. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: GAMINGTOPTENS LLC,25243 LEEDS ROAD, LITTLE NECK, NY 11362. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 10 Notice of Formation of 97-44 Sutphin Realty LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 12/22/20. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: United Corporate Services, Inc., 10 Bank St, Ste 560, White Plains, NY 10606, the registered agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. Purpose: any lawful activity. 11 VEVICI LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 06/09/2020. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail a copy of the process to VEVICI LLC, 1854 PALMETTO STREET, APT. 1, RIDGEWOOD, NY 11385. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 11 RJG Trades LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 02/16/2021. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail a copy of the process to the LLC, 398 Menahan St. Ridgewood, NY 11385 Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 11
14 FEBRUARY 18, 2021 • Number 7 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP
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THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 7 • FEBRUARY 18, 2021 | 15
We gladly accept phone orders!
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
We ask you to please remember that for everyone’s safety, masks must be worn at all times while in the store. Thank you. Stay safe!
Porterhouse Steaks Bone-in
Boar's Head Deluxe Ham
Plum or Beefsteak Tomatoes
Fresh Atlantic Salmon
16 FEBRUARY 18, 2021 • Number 7 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP
Boar's Head Genoa Salami
Boar's Head Chicken Assorted
$ 99 Per LB
Boar's Head American Cheese
$ 99 Per LB
Poland Spring Water 24 pk 16 16.9 oz
w/card. limit 1 offer. Must buy 3