Archive for the tag 'midwood'

Rabbi Yaakov Weingarten

Yaakov Weingarten (Source: vosizneias.com)

A Brooklyn Supreme Court judge ordered Midwood Rabbi Yaakov Weingarten and his wife, Rivka, to pay more than $520,000 for setting up phony not-for-profit organizations claiming to benefit Israel and then using the donations as their personal piggy bank.

The Weingartens were busted last summer, accused of operating a call center out of 1493 Coney Island Avenue in Midwood to raise millions of dollars through 19 separate charities. The scammers claimed the funds would go to programs in Israel or to religious activities. But prosecutors say the charities never existed, and the funds instead went to Weingarten and his family.

Weingarten, 53, withdrew more than $2 million from the charity bank accounts between 2007 and 2013, prosecutors said. They used the funds to pay for mortgages on their two homes, remodeiling expenses, personal vehicles, video rentals, dental visits and even a trip to Borgata Casino in Atlantic City. They attempted to hide their shenanigans by transferring funds between the non-profit accounts. It appears the setup was too difficult for even the Weingartens to keep track of; they bounced more than 2,100 checks, resulting in more than $65,000 in donations being wasted on bank overdraft fees.

On Wednesday, the judge ordered the Weingartens to forfeit $522,315 as part of a civil judgement. Approximately $360,000 of those funds will go to two Israeli charitable organizations that carry out actual programs similar to the ones Weingarten claimed during his phony fundraising pitches to donors: the Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel, the preeminent pediatric hospital in Israel, and United Hatzalah of Israel, a leading Israeli volunteer emergency medical services organization.

Weingarten previously pleaded guilty to felony tax fraud, allowing him to escape time behind bars. However, he and his associates, Simon Weiss and David Yifat, are barred from any fundraising or charitable activites in the state of New York. He also faces five years probation, and has already paid $90,685 in restitution as part of the criminal charges.

The judge ordered the dissolution of 11 actual non-profits used by Weingarten, as well as eight that existed in name only. They are as follows:

  • Hatzalah Rescue of Israel, Inc.;
  • Shearim, Inc.;
  • Bnei Torah, Inc.;
  • Chesed L’Yisrael V’Chasdei Yosef, Inc.;
  • Yad L’Shabbat, Inc.;
  • Hatzalah Shomron, Inc.;
  • Pulse Foundation, Inc.;
  • Agudath Chesed Bikur Cholim Israel, Inc.;
  • Kupat Reb Meir Baal Haness Bnei Torah Eretz Yisrael, Inc.;
  • Congregation Yad L’Shabbat, Inc.;
  • Shearim Hayad L’Torah Center for Hatzalah L’Shabbat and Chesed L’Yisrael, Inc.;
  • Israel Emergency Center;
  • Magen Israel;
  • Hayad Victim Assistance Fund;
  • Lmaan Hatorah;
  • Our Children;
  • Zaka Israel;
  • Yaldel Simcha Yisrael;
  • Yad Yisrael.

“We are committed to fighting to protect everyday New Yorkers, particularly those who want to use some of their hard-earned money to support charitable causes, because there has to be one set of rules for everyone,” Attorney General Schneiderman said via press release. “My office will use all the tools at our disposal to protect New Yorkers from unscrupulous fundraisers for sham charities.”

tayba

Source: Google Maps

UPDATE (4:21 p.m.): The Times has more on both incidents. On the Midwood incident:

On Friday evening, outside a prayer gathering preceding the nightly meal, men in a white Lexus flung eggs at three elderly worshipers entering a mosque on Coney Island Avenue. “This is for your Allah!” the vandals shouted.

And on the Bay Ridge incident:

Two days later, just as dawn broke on Sunday, 25 blocks away, a group of teenagers rolled past the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge seven times in a car, blaring with makeshift sirens and lights. “Burn to the ground!” they chanted as they waved Israeli flags. When the car stopped, a young worshiper retaliated by hurling a bottle, nicking one of the hecklers on his nose and hands.

UPDATE (4:13 p.m.): We just heard back from sources at the 61st Precinct, who tell us that the two incidents appear to be separate. Those in the vehicle involved in the Midwood incident did not wave Israeli flags or display anything related to Israel or Judaism. From a white vehicle, they pelted the worshipers with eggs. Both incidents are being investigated by the Hate Crimes Task Force.

Original post:

A group of hooligans circled mosques in Midwood and Bay Ridge over the weekend, shouting anti-Muslim slurs and pelting worshipers with eggs, according to local religious leaders.

NY1 reports:

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says a car circled a Bay Ridge mosque while its passengers waved Israeli flags and yelled anti-Islamic slurs Sunday morning.

A spokesman for a Sheepshead Bay mosque says a similar incident happened there Friday, but the group in the car also threw eggs at elderly worshipers.

JPUpdates identified the Sheepshead Bay mosque as Tayba Islamic Center, located at 2165 Coney Island Avenue, just south of Avenue R in Midwood. According to that outlet, the incidents were caught on surveillance cameras and the video has been turned over to police.

The incidents came to light during a press conference on Tuesday hosted by the Islamic Society Center of Bay Ridge, where the actions were condemned by local politicians and Jewish and Muslim religious leaders.

JPUpdates reported on their statements:

“We will not tolerate the desecration of any type against churches, mosques and synagogues in this city,” State Senator Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) declared.

“At this center, we have been with good relationships with everybody around us—all the neighbors around us, irrespective of their religion, irrespective of their ethnic origin—we are good with everybody,” Dr. Husam Rimawi, President of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, said.

… Councilmember Vincent Gentile read a statement on behalf of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am appalled by the reports of intimidation and harassment against mosques in New York. We have seen this ugly side rear its head before. Our city has also spent many years trying to heal and bridge divides,” Mark-Viverito said. “All people have the right to worship freely, without threats. Religious freedom is a core principle of our nation and protected by the Constitution.”

.. “It really breaks my heart,” Jewish community leader Douglas Jablon said. “We are relatives — we have the same grandfather, and we should act like it,” he said.

“It makes me very deeply sad that anyone would behave in a harassing way to someone else’s worship,” Rabbi Valerie Lieber of the Kane Street Synagogue said. “I know many people are very upset about what is happening in Israel and Gaza. And yet there are appropriate ways to express yourself — not to harass other people.”

Source: .v1ctor Casale/Flickr

A tattoo declaring his innocence did little to stop a Brooklyn jury from convicting a man for a 2012 sexual assault in Brighton Beach.

Giorgi Shevardenidze, 27, was found guilty of attacking a woman at the Brighton Beach subway station on July 28, 2012, with prosecutors alleging he grabbed his victim around the neck and mouth from behind, and choked, smothered and groped her.

Before his trial, though, he sought to clear his name with some permanent ink. He appeared in court with a tattoo of a bell on his right hand, with the word’s “I am not guilty” beneath it.

Jurors didn’t take the hint, finding him guilty of aggravated sexual assault after approximately four hours of deliberations. The crime carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Shevardenidze targeted his 22-year-old victim, riding eight stops past his destination to follow her. But Shevardenidze’s lawyers said it was all just a big misunderstanding. Shevardenidze was drunk, took a stumble, and landed on a butt, they argued.

The Daily News reports:

“He targeted this young lady,” prosecutor Olatokunbo Olaniyan told jurors during closing arguments. “He saw that blond hair, he saw that dress and he saw a crime of opportunity.”

Taking the stand Monday, the defendant contended he was bombed after a night of heavy drinking and that he “lost my balance and… accidentally put a hand on her butt.”

He said he got off at that stop to buy weed.

His lawyers argued the woman suffered no injuries and “overreacted” to an innocent encounter.

The New York Post adds that Shevardenidze was arrested on May 19, charged with misdemeanor assault for punching and biting a man in Midwood.

swastika

Photo by Jane Roitman

A Queens assemblyman has asked the Department of Consumer Affairs to look into regulating swastikas and other offensive ads from taking to the skies after beachgoers were shocked this weekend by the appearance of a swastika-towing plane flying over the sands.

The banner, shown above, was flown on Saturday by the International Raelian Movement, a quasi-religious organization that says they’ve cloned humans and they believe extraterrestrial scientists made life on Earth. The group flies the banner over New York City beaches annually to “rehabilitate” the image as a sign of peace and unity. Although it wasn’t intended to be anti-Semitic, locals were outraged that the passion-stirring icon would fly over one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

In addition to Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Coney Island, the banner toured over the Rockaway and Long Island beaches.

CBS reports on the effort to make sure the Raelians won’t be back next year:

Assemblyman Phil Goldfelder, D-Queens, told [reporter Alex] Silverman he is asking the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs to look at regulating swastikas in the sky and other offensive ads, which he thinks can be done without opening a constitutional can of worms. He’s also considering introducing legislation.

“There’s been a lot of precedent about regulation on signage in public places, and I think that we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our families,” Goldfelder said.

swastika

A fringe religious group that believes extraterrestrial scientists created life on Earth is today flying a large swastika banner over Brighton Beach and Coney Island, outraging residents in one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

The plane was spotted by beachgoers flying between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street around noon. With a symbol of a Star of David interlaced with the swastika, and a message that reads “卐 + ☮ = ❤ Proswastika.org,” the banner is commissioned annually by the International Raelian Movement in an attempt to “rehabilitate” the symbol to it’s pre-Nazi-era meaning of peace. It flew over the beach in previous years, sparking headlines - and outbursts from upset residents.

This year is no different.

“A plane was flying with this sign over the beach today, not once but twice it went past  the beach. Beaches filled with families and children. This is an inhumane action and must be stopped,” wrote tipster Jane Roitman, who sent in the photo above.

Another tipster called in to say that the group is being beyond insensitive, given the area’s dense population of Holocaust survivors and the current inflamed tensions between Israel and Palestine.

“I was dumbfounded by it. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and everyone [in Brighton Beach] knows someone whose family was affected by the Holocaust,” said Loren Azimov. “The timing could not be worse with everything going on in Israel and Palestine; it’s as bad as it has ever been.”

Azimov said there are other ways to try to rehabilitate the symbol without being so offensive, and that he’d like to see either the banner grounded.

“The First Amendment is not an acceptable reason [to let it fly.] What if it was rehabilitation of slavery? People would be up in arms,” Azimov said, adding that he’d like to see pressure on the company the organization chartered to refuse them access to the skies in the future.

It wouldn’t be the first company to decline the Raelian’s business. The group sought an expanded international campaign for what they’re calling Swastika Rehabilitation Week this year. When they approached a major Canadian billboard company, they were turned away.

“The company representative said many people would see our ad as offensive and inflammatory, so they wouldn’t post it,” said Thomas Kaenzig in a press release. Kaenzig is a planetary guide, the title for a top-ranking clergymember. “So this poses a real catch 22. How can the world be reeducated about the truth of this symbol if we can’t get the word out to show people?”

Azimov has been calling elected officials and government agencies, but to no avail. One prominent leader in Brighton Beach’s Russian-Jewish community told him that he should “consider writing a letter to the leadership of this org and kindly express compelling reasons not to fly this in our area.”

The Raelians may not be so receptive to Azimov’s rationale. Aside from brushing off similar complaints in previous years, the group appears to have a tenuous grasp on reality.

Raelism dates back to the 1970s and is the world’s largest UFO religion, believing that space scientists created life and have been popping in for visits throughout human history (with increased frequency in recent years, as evidenced through all the UFO sightings in the past century). Buddha, Jesus and other religious figures are all believed by the group to be messengers of the extraterrestrials. The group is attempting to build an interplanetary embassy to welcome extraterrestrials, and have been denied land in Israel because of their prominent use of the swastika.

The group also operates Clonaid, a company developing human cloning. The company claimed to have cloned the first human in 2002. There was no evidence that the claim was anything more than a publicity stunt, and the group has since been derided as cult led by a sex-crazed leader.

UPDATE (3:28 p.m.): Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and part of Brighton Beach, and is also the grandson of Holocaust survivors, called Sheepshead Bites to express his outrage.

“It isabsolutely disgusting and an egregious act of hate and intolerance. Whatever this hate group is, it’s an unacceptable act. I’ve asked the police department to investigate how this happened and how it came to be,” he said.

Treyger said he’s received numerous calls from constituents offended by the banner. He has also reached out to the mayor’s office and the City Council speaker’s office, which he said were receptive to the concerns. He said authorities are trying to determine if the plane and advertising campaign are in violation of any laws, and are also attempting to identify the company chartered to fly the banner.

The local pol said the group’s attempt to restore the symbol as one of peace and unity has little chance of success, and the group should stop its “outrageous” approach.

“Try asking someone who witnessed their loved ones murdered under that symbol if they’ll view that symbol as anything but murder and pain,” he said. “There’s no place for this here in this country.”

wantedAuthorities are on the hunt for the man photographed above, who is a suspect in two commercial burglaries including the ransacking of an office within the Beth Israel Medical Center at 3131 Kings Highway.

The man allegedly broke into two offices over the span of three nights in June, stealing roughly $60,000 in cash, equipment and other valuables.

Cops say the suspect waited until after closing to break into the Kings Highway medical center on Monday, June 23. He entered the property at approximately 6:05 pm., swiping a laptop and $160 in cash.

Just two days earlier, on June 21, the same man is believe to have broken into Glenwood Road Dental, at 5520 Glenwood Road in Flatlands. He made off with approximately $58,600 worth of dentistry equipment in that heist.

The suspect is described as a black male with long black braids and dark facial hair.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Source: Google Mpas

Source: Google Mpas

A 22-year-old employee of Moisha’s Discount Supermarket (325 Avenue M) was killed last night when a forklift rolled backwards and crushed him against a wall.

Gustavo Tapia, of Brighton Beach, was pushing a broken forklift up a ramp to a parking deck using a pallet stacker at approximately 6:00 p.m. yesterday. He lost control of the forklift, and it rolled backwards down the ramp, pinning him against a wall.

He suffered serious chest injuries, and was taken to Kings County Hospital where he later died.

An investigation is ongoing.

[via Daily News, New York Post, News 12 and CBS News]

accident2

Photo by Brian Hoo

An early morning car accident on Sunday left three people injured and a car wrapped around a tree on Ocean Parkway.

CBS reports:

The driver of a 2013 Acura slammed into a tree on Ocean Parkway between Avenue O and Avenue P in the Midwood section of Brooklyn at around 3:30 a.m., police said.

… According to officials, the driver was heading northbound on the parkway and was possibly trying to make a turn when he lost control of the vehicle.

accident1

Photo by Brian Hoo

It took first reponders 15 minutes to cut the driver and two passengers from the vehicle, according to the Daily News. The 21-year-old passenger in the front seat was listed in critical condition. The driver, 24, and rear seat passenger, 20, were in stable condition. Witnesses told ABC that all three injured were men.

accident3

Photo by Brian Hoo

The Post reports that police are still investigating the cause:

Cops said there were no immediate indications of alcohol or drug use, but they’re looking into whether speed was a factor.

The impact left the car’s tires blown out, its hood sheared off, and the windshield shattered.

Passers-by gaped at the sight of the wrecked car, which at a quick glance appeared to have a tree growing out of it.

The car stayed wrapped around the tree for several hours, with the wreckage only being loaded onto an NYPD tow truck after 9:00 a.m.

buick

Police are on the hunt for the driver of the Buick photographed above, with license plate GFR-1370, following a hit-and-run this morning that left a pedestrian in critical condition.

The car struck the 60-year-old man in the crosswalk of Ocean Parkway and Avenue O at approximately 11:30 a.m., Yeshiva World News reports.

The vehicle fled the scene without even slowing down, and began travelling at a high rate of speed southbound on Ocean Parkway.

Three good samaritans who were in the the area witnessed the vehicle with a smashed windshield – travelling fast, and going through red lights. Additionally, the windshield was completely smashed. The image below was taken by this individual, and given to YWN exclusively.

The vehicle entered the Belt Parkway on Ocean Parkway, and headed East towards Queens…

The victim was taken to Lutheran Medical Center where he is in critical condition.

The photo above was tweeted out by NYCAlerts, and we have not yet confirmed whether or not it is being distributed by police.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Source: Murdock Solon

Source: Murdock Solon

A real estate management company linked to the owner of one of the city’s leading necktie manufacturers and wholesalers has taken over a swath of Kings Highway real estate, with plans to redevelop the property into a five-story retail and office development.

Several stores on the northern side of the corridor, from East 16th Street to East 17th Street, have shuttered in recent months, including the area’s McDonald’s restaurant. The building appears to still be owned by Kingsway Realty, according to city records, which has had its name inscribed on the facade since taking over the property in 1973.

1601-1607 Kings Highway, where several stores have shuttered in recent months to make way for redevelopment.

1601-1607 Kings Highway, where several stores have shuttered in recent months to make way for redevelopment. (Photo by Ned Berke)

Now plans are being considered by the Department of Buildings to tear down the two-story structure occupying the 17,880-square-foot lot, originally built in 1930, and replace it with a brand new facility, anchored by two floors of retail shopping and three floors of office space.

The building is being designed by the architectural firm of Murdock Solon. Renderings on their website show an ultra-modern design, featuring large bulked-out windows, a patterned facade and setbacks with rooftop gardens to be viewed by the office workers on the upper levels.

With escalators drawn into the middle of the retail space, it appears the developer may be aiming to attract a large retail tenant to occupy the bulk of the space.

There is parking for 25 vehicles and five bicycles in the basement level of the property, according to documents submitted to the DOB. The new building will stand 79 feet tall, and have 67,355 square-feet of space.

Although Kingsway appears to still be the owner of the property according to ACRIS, the online database of the City Register, the plans were submitted to the DOB on behalf of Lake Realty Inc., naming Walter Schik as the officer.

Schik is an Austrian-Jewish immigrant who fled Nazi persecution. Resettled in New York, he founded Bentley Cravats in 1947, which manufactures neckties, bow ties and other neckware.

Lake Realty Management LLC, which appears to be the official name of the company as registered with the state, manages a handful of properties in Brooklyn and Manhattan, including a nearby apartment building at 1233 East 19th Street.

Calls to Schik’s office were not returned.

The plans for the new five-story building were rejected in March, with the Department of Buildings stating that the drawings were incomplete. Calls to Murdock Solon for a status update were not returned.

Photos via Murdock Solon.

Next »