Source: NYScanner/Twitter

Source: NYScanner/Twitter

Police successfully and safely talked down a man who threatened to jump from an Avenue X apartment building yesterday, and took him into custody for psychiatric evaluation.

First responders converged on the scene at East 3rd Street and Avenue X after receiving the call at approximately 3:00 p.m. yesterday.

The man was on a seventh floor fire escape, threatening to take his life.

Emergency personnel from the NYPD, FDNY and the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit were on scene. Traffic was rerouted as Avenue X was closed off from Ocean Parkway to East 2nd Street, and the B1 ceased running.

The rescue operation lasted more than an hour, but ultimately the man was taken into custody and brought to Coney Island Hospital, the NYPD confirmed.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

The death of NYPD Officer Dennis Guerra, who succumbed yesterday to injuries sustained from the Coney Island fire set by a “bored” teen, marked a tragic milestone for the entire city. At 6:50 a.m. yesterday, he became the first cop to be killed in the line of duty since December 2011.

Hundreds of friends, family and colleagues gathered outside the hospital looked on as approximately 100 officers stood at attention in silence as Guerra’s flag-draped body was wheeled out of the hospital and into an ambulance.

The memorial service and funeral are still being planned. His partner, Rosa Rodriguez, remains in critical condition, although her doctors are optimistic about her recovery.

Meanwhile, the family of 16-year-old Marcell Dockery, the teen who confessed to lighting a mattress in the hallway on fire out of boredom, came forward yesterday to apologize for Dockery’s actions.

“This has been a tragedy, not only for one family but for many families. So, right now we are just apologizing, openly apologizing and saying God be with those officers,” a family spokesperson told News 12.

The incident will also lead to a policy change at the NYPD, according to Commissioner Bill Bratton. Currently, the NYPD does not have a policy in place about officers using an elevator when responding to a fire, even though elevators can become deadly traps. When firefighters use them during a fire, they take the elevator to a nearby floor below the fire, and use the stairs the remainder of the way. The NYPD will assess the best way of responding in such incidents, and create a policy to better protect officers in the future.

Shot on my way home from school last night. I wish I could have Photoshopped in a little silvery crescent moon on the top right of the photo. It seems to belong, but at the same time it would be disingenuous.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send them to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

The Shorefront YM-YWHA will be hosting a legal clinic tomorrow, April 10 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for homeowners who were affected by Superstorm Sandy.

If you were underpaid by your flood insurer, call (646) 786-0887 today to schedule an appointment with a legal professional. A legal professional will help you to prepare a self-made Proof of Loss.

If you wish to attend this clinic, it is important that you RSVP by the end of today.

The Shorefront Y is located at 3300 Coney Island Avenue and they can be contacted by calling (718) 646-1444.

Cymbrowitz welcomes Holocaust survivor Zipora Yakuboff to the podium. (Source: Cymbrowitz's office)

Cymbrowitz welcomes Holocaust survivor Zipora Yakuboff to the podium. (Source: Cymbrowitz’s office)

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz spent this past Sunday with kids from across the community who wrote essays and poetry, did performances and created art to recognize the lessons of the Holocaust.

The ceremony, held at Kingsborough Community College’s Marine Academic Center, is the culmination of the pol’s annual contest, attracting hundreds of students from public and private elementary, middle and high schools across the district. Approximately 350 entries were received this year.

(See photos and coverage from previous years here, here and here.)

“It is imperative that we never forget the lessons of those who survived the Holocaust, as well as the tragic lessons of those who did not survive,” Cymbrowitz said, according to a press release. “In an era in which some historians are trying to rewrite history and deny that the Holocaust ever happened, we need to hear these stories and preserve them. We need to pass these stories on to future generations to remind people of what can happen when hatred is allowed to grow.”

The ceremony exhibited all of the creative displays made by students. There was also musical performances by the Edward R. Murrow High School Madrigal Chorus, Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Winds. Holocaust survivor Zipora Yakuboff shared her story of loss, courage and eventual escape from a Nazi death camp.

The Amity School took home first-place for high school students, and top honors were also given to Prospect Park Yeshiva, Midwood High School and Bay Academy.

See photos of some of the displays.

Guerra (Source: NYPD)

Guerra (Source: NYPD)

The flag at Brooklyn Borough Hall has been lowered in memory of Dennis Guerra, the police officer who this morning passed away from injuries sustained when he responded to a call of a fire in Coney Island.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams issued the following statement:

Brooklyn mourns the tragic passing of NYPD Officer Dennis Guerra. This is a tragedy for his family and loved ones, the dedicated men and women of New York’s Finest and Brooklynites from all corners of the borough. This eight-year veteran of the Department, a son of a police officer himself, died in the line of duty, risking his life to save others in the midst of a fire in Coney Island. My heart goes out to his wife Cathy and their four children: Kathleen, Jonathan, Alyssa, and Zachary. As a veteran of the NYPD, I know too well the danger that the job can present every single day, and I know that Officer Guerra demonstrated professionalism and great courage responding to the crisis as he did and following in the career path of his father, who was also an NYPD officer. Today, the flags at Borough Hall will stand at half-staff in honor of his life and the sacrifice that he made

A traditional Passover seder plate. Source: Wikipedia

A traditional Passover seder plate. Source: Wikipedia

For the fifth year in a row, the Be Proud Foundation will host its annual Passover Food Distribution Event, tomorrow, April 10, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Aqua Health Rehabilitation Center, 2753 Coney Island Avenue.

More than 600 people of limited means will join Be Proud and its friends at the annual event. Recipients will be able to take home kosher food packages for Passover, including matzah, the “bread of affliction” and symbol of salvation and deliverance.

This event is made possible because of the generosity of private donations.

“Passover is the best time for us to show that we care about our neighbors. By giving out food we are going to share our happiness with the people who count on us more than ever in this current economic climate,” said Raisa Chernina, executive director of the Be Proud Foundation.

The 2713 Coney Island Avenue office of Mission Settlement (Source: Google Maps)

First he denied the charges. Then he claimed he was a victim. Now former Rasputin owner Michael Levitis has come clean, admitting to scamming nearly $2.2 million from more than 1,200 cash-strapped victims who turned to him for help.

Levitis (Source: Facebook)

Levitis and the debt-relief company he ran, Mission Settlement Agency, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court yesterday to fraud charges, admitting to his role as the scheme’s mastermind.

“Michael Levitis and his company, Mission Settlement Agency, preyed on the desperation of financially struggling people across the country. Today’s guilty pleas ensure that the defendants who falsely offer debt relief, telling their victims a pack of lies in order to line their own pockets, will be held to account,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.

As part of the plea deal announced yesterday, Levitis agreed to forfeit $2.2 million to the government to pay back victims. He faces between seven and 11 years in prison when he’s sentenced this August.

Levitis and three others were cuffed in May 2013 for operating a debt settlement company that prosecutors said took millions of dollars in fees for services never rendered.

Mission Settlement claimed to help customers struggling with credit card and bank debt by helping them reach settlements that could cut the amount owed. But while Mission collected payments from their indebted clients, they never paid down their debts. From mid-2009 to March 2013, more than 2,200 customers paid nearly $14 million, of which only $4.4 million went to creditors, according to the criminal complaint.

Rasputin was padlocked in May 2013.

The company kept $6.6 million for itself as fees. As many as 1,200 of the clients paid $2.2 million in fees without “a single penny” reaching their creditors.

Prosecutors said Levitis took the money and used it to live a luxurious lifestyle, paying down his own debts on Raputin Restaurant (2670 Coney Island Avenue), lease two luxury cars, and paid off his mother’s credit card bills.

He also misled clients, with the company claiming in sales pitches that he was affiliated with the federal government and a leading credit bureau, none of which was true, according to prosecutors.

The others involved in the scheme all turned tail and pleaded guilty in August 2013, with at least one of them ratting out his former boss as the mastermind.

“I followed instructions from Michael,” Mission’s former vice president of sales, Denis Kurlyand, told the Daily News after the plea deal.

Levitis’ home at 1001 Oriental Boulevard. Prosecutors seized it to repay his victims. (Source: Google Maps)

Levitis stood fast, though, insisting on his innocence and said he was a victim of government neglect. He pleaded not guilty and claimed that he had attempted to tip off authorities to malfeasance by “rogue employees,” but that his warnings fell on deaf ears.

After his arrest, prosecutors filed papers to seize approximately 40 bank accounts connected to Levitis, as well as Rasputin Restaurant and two properties he owns in Manhattan Beach.

It’s the second time in four years that he’s been in hot water.

Back in 2010, Levitis was charged with lying to federal agents after he got caught up in a bribery case involving former State Senator Carl Kruger.

Levitis told a fellow nightclub owner, who was secretly recording the conversation for the FBI, that he had an inside line to the state pol, and could assist him with a liquor license issue if he steered thousands of dollars to Kruger – with a kickback for Levitis’ role in setting it up.

As the case moved forward, Levitis’ claim that he had influence in Kruger’s office began to unravel, and Levitis, who is also an attorney, later pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents, sentenced to three years probation and fined $15,000.

In April 2013, Levitis was also hit with a six month suspension of his license to practice law – retroactive to January 2012 – for his role in the case.

Levitis, who along with his wife Marina and mother Eva – who owned Mission Settlement on paper – were  co-stars of Russian Dolls, a failed Lifetime reality series canceled less than two months after its premiere.

The case against Levitis and Mission is being hailed as historic, as it’s the first criminal referral from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency established after passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010. The CFPB is also bringing civil charges against Mission, Levitis and others.

Levitis may still face criminal tax violations, according to the plea deal.

The 61st Precinct Community Council Meeting will meet tonight, April 9, at the Homecrest Presbyterian Church (1413 Avenue T).

The Community Council is comprised of concerned residents and top brass from the 61st Precinct, and offers neighbors an opportunity to ask questions and express concerns about crime and safety issues in the area. The monthly meetings are attended by Captain John M. Chell, the commanding officer of the precinct, who will present a report on incidents and trends in the neighborhood, and speak face-to-face with neighbors about specific concerns.

For further information, or if you have questions or comments concerning Community Affairs, call (718) 627-6847.

Officer Dennis Guerra, one of the two officers critically injured after rushing into a burning Coney Island apartment building to help residents, died from his injuries early this morning.

Guerra, 38, a married father or four, was first declared brain dead and on life support yesterday. This morning, at 6:50 a.m., he further slipped away and was pronounced dead at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, according to the New York Post.

“We lost a good man this morning. Officer Guerra was exemplary – he went to try to help people in need. Our hearts go out to the Guerra family – we will stand by them,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I have gotten to know his family in the past few days, a wonderful family,” the mayor said. “On behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, our hearts go out to them.”

Guerra was an eight-year veteran of the force.

His partner, Rosa Rodriguez, 36, remains in critical condition, and a family member told the Daily News that “She’s doing much better,” and that doctors believe she may make a full recovery.

The two were injured after they rushed into a New York City Housing Authority building at 2007 Surf Avenue in response to a fire on Monday. They arrived mere minutes after the call and took the elevator up to the 13th floor.

When the doors opened, thick black smoke blasted into the elevator. Rodriguez and Guerra called for backup, and were heard over the police scanners gasping for breath before becoming unresponsive to the dispatcher’s calls.

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Police arrested 16-year-old Marcell Dockery, a tenant in the building who reportedly confessed to lighting a mattress on fire in the hallway because he was “bored.” The fire spread more quickly than he anticipated, and he fled to his apartment on another floor.

Dockery has been charged with two counts of assault, one count of arson, and one count of reckless endangerment.

The district attorney may tack on felony murder charges for the death of Guerra.

His mother also faces eviction from the building because of his actions.