Volume 16 • Issue 50 | May 7 - 13, 2004



Police blotter

Body in East River
The Coast Guard removed a body found floating in the East River near the Williamsburg Bridge at 1:45 p.m. Sunday May 2, police said. Earlier in the day, the Coast Guard removed a body from the East River near 34th St. Both bodies were too decomposed to determine the sex of the victims. The Medical Examiner’s office is investigation the causes of death.


Suspicious packages
Police temporarily closed a block of Broadway between Duane and Reade Sts. at Federal Plaza shortly after 11 a.m., Thurs. May 6 to investigate a suspicious package that proved to be harmless. “We get them all the time, three or four a month,” said Joseph Capitola, a police spokesperson. “It’s a bag of laundry, a bag of garbage or somebody’s lunch – it could be anything but we have to respond to any suspicious package,” Capitola said.

Earlier that morning, a suspicious package was under investigation at Church and Worth St., but the owner returned for it and there was no street closure, said Capt. Michael Hurley, First Precinct commanding officer.


Housing arrests
The Department of Investigation last week arrested 12 people on charges of fraudulently living in apartments in New York City Housing Authority projects, including one in the Baruch Houses and another in the Alfred E. Smith Houses, after the legitimate tenants died.

One of the defendants, Carl Hopkins, 36, who legally lived with his mother, Bernice Hopkins, in the Smith Houses on the Lower East Side, is charged with failing to report that his mother had died in 1993, and with submitting false documents supposedly signed by his mother. Hopkins could have legally remained in the apartment after his mother’s death because he was previously registered as a family member and could have become the tenant of record as a remaining family member.

Another defendant, Jeanette Melendez, 51, is charged with having falsely claimed to have been the niece of the legal tenant, Asuncion Rivera, in the Baruch Houses shortly before Rivera’s death. Melendez had asked NYCHA to allow her to live with Rivera in the Lower East Side complex but the authority denied the request because it said Melendez had several drug-related felony convictions, which made her ineligible to live in public housing. Nevertheless, Melendez lived with Rivera and submitted false documents, including an altered Social Security check, after Rivera’s death to make it appear that Rivera was alive and living in the apartment, the authority said.

All the defendants have been charged with grand larceny and felonious submission of false documents. They are subject to jail sentences of four to seven years if convicted.


Arrest on the F.D.R.
A collision on the southbound lanes of the F.D.R. Drive at Delancey St. at 2:20 a.m. Sat. May 1, resulted in both cars turning over and the driver of one being charged with drunk driving and assaulting officers who went to the scene, police said. Denis Velez, 20 of Bushwick, Brooklyn, was charged with second-degree assault, driving while intoxicated and driving without a license. Police said Velez bit one of the officers who responded to the incident on the forearm and hit the paramedic who was taking him to the hospital. Velez and his passenger were thrown from the car when it turned over. The driver of the second car was also thrown from the wreck. All three were taken to Bellevue in stable condition.

—Albert Amateau

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