Saturday, May 30, 2015

Battery Park Tourist Scalper Scam - Queens Resident Arrested

Yesterday close to a dozen SJQ  Sightseeing Tours personnel worked in front of the Bowling Green subway station soliciting customers.   The tour group is not registered to do business in New York State and has no valid Parks Department permit to sell tickets.  The tourist scam has been operating in broad daylight  for years ripping off customers with little or no interference from authorities. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

A team of illegal ticket sellers has been preying on unsuspecting tourists for years, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

The ticket scalpers are working in some of the most heavily visited downtown tourist destinations -  Statue of Liberty,  Staten Island Ferry, and Pier 15, (South Street Seaport) 

The unscrupulous scammers sell Statue of Liberty tickets for between $ 80 - 100 dollars: re-sell used Statue of Liberty tickets:  Sell people tickets to the Staten Island Ferry and charge people $ 20 just to enter Battery Park, a public park on the tip of Manhattan.
The group wear dark blue official looking tourist operator vests that say, SJQ  Sightseeing Tours.

SJQ stands for South Jamaica Queens.  

On the Look Out.   The ubiquitous SJQ  Sightseeing Tour group has been a fixture for years working in lower Manhattan.

They have been a fixture in lower Manhattan operating in broad daylight for years. 

On Wednesday career criminal Gregory Reddick, 54,  of 118 Road  in Jamaica  Queens,  was busted after leading park police on a wild chase in lower Manhattan.

Parks Enforcement Patrol officer Jean-Baptist Joseph, 33, saw Reddick on Pier 15 as he was allegedly in the act of conning tourists out of cash.

The PEP officer approached Reddick and ask him for ID. He refused cursed at him and ran away.

The officer called for back up.  PEP officers tracked him down a half mile away in Battery Park. 

Another officer approached the con and asked him for ID.

 "F*ck off off,  I ain't givin you shit," he responded, according to an officer at the scene.

He ran, and the officers caught up to him. He resisted arrest and officers maced him twice in order to get him to comply.  

A large group of Reddick's associates formed during the arrest,  yelling and screaming. 

An NYPD officer in the park said that on Monday - two days before Reddick's arrest  - he had received a compliant that Reddick had sold two tickets to the Statue of Liberty to a Virginia couple for $ 409  dollars. 

"The US Park police also told us they have also been getting a lot of complaints that these SJQ guys are getting aggressive and forcing people to buy tickets," a PEP officer said. 

Reddick told law-enforcement sources he made $ 3000 the day he was caught. He had $ 400 cash on him at the time of his arrest.

Two Park Enforcement Patrol officers were assigned to the area after an SJQ  Sightseeing Tours employee was arrested.

Reddick’s arrests date to the 80's and include six felony convictions,  multiple burglary and criminal possession of stolen property convictions, law-enforcement sources said.

On Wednesday he was charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration In The Second Degree, Resisting Arrest, Unlawful Vending in a New York City Park, and Disorderly Conduct.

SJQ  Sightseeing Tours is not registered to do business in New York State and has no valid Parks Department permit to sell tickets. 

Read More:

 New York Post - May 30, 2015 -  By Rich Calder

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Baby Dies In Private Park In Queens


By Geoffrey Croft

A 10-week-old baby girl was found unconscious and unresponsive this afternoon in a privately owned Forest Hills park.  

At approximately 12:30pm police responded to a 911 call of an unconscious baby inside Hawthorne Park, located at Borage Place and Burns Street within the confines of the 112th Precinct. 

EMS responded and transported the infant in a "life threatening condition"  to North Shore Hospital  but  doctors were unable to save her. 

She was pronounced deceased at the hospital. 

The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing.
 The child was with her mother and a friend at the park when baby lost consciousness after vomiting.  
The deceased has been identified as  Zoey Kaplan of Dartmouth Street in Queens, NY.

Hawthorne Park one of four private parks owned by the Forest Hill Gardens Corporation. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Central Park Robberies Up 125% - Crime Up 64% Overall


By Geoffrey Croft

Robberies in Central Park have jumped 125%  and overall crime in the park increased by 64%  over the same period last year according to the latest crime numbers released today. 

Central Park Crime numbers - as of midnight last night -  May 28th

Murder 0 vs 0
Rape 0 vs 0
Robbery 9 vs 4 -  up  125%
Felony Assault 1 vs 1
Burglary 0 vs 0
Grand Larceny 13 vs 8 - up 62.5% 
Grand Larceny Auto 0 vs 1
Overall Crime 23 vs 14 up 64.3 %

Source: NYPD comstat.

Detectives Socha & Lynch Honored In World's Fair Bombing Tragedy Anniversary

Flushing Meadows Corona Park - July 4, 1940. A time bomb exploded killing Detectives Joseph Lynch and Ferdinand “Fred” Socha who seconds earlier had confirmed it was a bomb. The device was discovered in the British Pavilion at the  1939/40 World's Fair in Flushing Meadow Park and removed to a remote location behind the Polish Pavilion. The case is still unsolved and remains open after 75 years. 


By Geoffrey Croft

The NYPD Bomb Squad will conduct a wreath laying Ceremony for the 75th Anniversary of the World’s Fair Ground bombing. The ceremony will be held in Flushing Meadow Park at 10 AM on July 11th  near the Queens Museum of Art by the memorial plaque honoring two detectives and other officers who were injured. 

Detectives Joseph Lynch and Ferdinand “Fred” Socha were tragically killed on July 4th, when a bomb  they were inspecting suddenly exploded during the 1939/40 World’s Fair.   Four others were seriously injured.  

The detectives - members of the department’s Bomb and Forgery Squad - were killed while they were investigating a mysterious package which turned out to be a time bomb.  

Cops killed at 1940 World’s Fair to be honored

Detectives Ferdinand Socha (right) and Joseph Lynch were killed at the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on July 4, 1940. The Lynch family lived in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx and his partner Freddie Socha lived in the Polish community in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Those attending this year’s memorial ceremony include Easter “Essie’’ Miles, 85, the eldest  and only surviving of Lynch’s five children who was in the hospital battling osteomyelitis, a chronic and painful bone infection when her father was killed. 

“My mother didn’t tell me my father had died until I returned home in August,” said Ms. Miles,  who was 10 at the time. 

“She was the real heroine; taking care of five kids with the youngest only 22 months.”

An electrician found a suspicious satchel emitting a ticking sound, in a “fan room,” inside the British Pavilion according to reports at the time. 

Lynch’s daughter Easter "Essie" Miles holding photographs honoring her father will be at the July 11th  ceremony in Flushing Meadow Park. Essie was a 10-year-old schoolgirl in the hospital battling  osteomyelitis, a chronic and painful bone infection, when her father was killed. (Photo: Douglas Healey)

After receiving a tip about a suspicious package Detective Frederick Morelock removed the canvas bag and placed it under a tree in an unpopulated area behind the Polish Pavilion near the Van Wyck Expressway.

Detective Socha was off duty, but told his partner that if anything came up, he’d accompany him even though it was a holiday, according an account on the Detectives' Endowment Association website.

An hour before he was scheduled to go off-duty, Detective Lynch received a telephone call at home. A suspicious satchel had been discovered inside the British Pavilion at the World’s Fair. 

Emergency Service Squad personnel had cordoned off the location pending the Bomb Squad’s arrival.  Detective Lynch told his wife not to worry and that he’d be back in time for supper, and to go later to visit their eldest daughter, Essie, who was in the hospital. 

Lynch borrowed his sister’s car and picked up Socha en-route to the fairgrounds. The pair arrived at the location and learned that the satchel had been placed under a maple sapling next to a service road near where the elevated portion of the Van Wyck Expressway currently runs through Flushing.  After a briefing by police brass, the Detectives advanced toward the satchel to make a visual inspection. 

Margaret Fleming bending over the body of one of the dectives killed by a time bomb

Margaret Fleming, a nurse at the Fair is seen bent over the body of one of the defectives killed by the time bomb. In the background the second detective is being carried off.

Protective gear had yet to be invented, so they were only wearing business suits, the same as other Detectives. They carefully lifted the satchel off the ground and examined it thoroughly. Although a ticking sound was coming from inside the satchel, there was no way to confirm that it actually contained a live bomb (and most bomb runs turn out to be hoaxes). 

They decided they needed to peer inside to be certain. Lynch carved a small hole in the thin wood veneer of the satchel and peeked through it.  

He advised in a hushed voice, “It’s the business” — meaning the bomb was real. 

Those were his last words. The bomb suddenly exploded.

World’s Fair British Pavilion Bombing
New York City Police Detective Frederick Morelock, speaking with Police Commissioner  Lewis Valentine and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (seated on auto bumper) after the bomb detonated killing the two Detectives and critically injured five others.  Detective Morelock bravely carried the bomb to the rear of the Poland Pavilion.  Shrapnel from the blast penetrated  Morelock's left shoulder and back.   Detective Joseph Gallagher lost an eye.  Mayor LaGuardia presented posthumous Medal of Honor awards to the families of the officers for their, "Conspicuous bravery."

The closed casket wake was held in the family's living room in the Bronx where a reported five thousand mourners came to pay their respects. 

Yankee Legend Babe Ruth was one of the visitors.   

On May 27, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia posthumously awarded  the officers the Medal of Honor  for their, "Conspicuous bravery."

"It was a tragedy, but it could have been worse," Police Commissioner Lewis Valentine said noting that it was "only a miracle that hundreds of fairgoers weren't killed."

168,000 were in attendance at the Fair that Independence Day according to news accounts. 

The case is still unsolved and remains open after 75 years.

Today, a plaque and stone marker commemorating their heroism is located outside the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadow Park where the ceremony will be held on July 11th.

The building is the last original structure remaining from the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair.

New York Daily News headline, July 5, 1940.

Read More:

Cops killed at 1940 World’s Fair to be honored 
New York Post - May 25, 2015 - By Philip Messing 

Queens Chronicle -  July 8, 2010 by Liz Rhoades  

New York Times - August 3,  2008 - By Michael Pollak

The Brooklyn Eagle - May 5, 1941

Monday, May 25, 2015

Central Park: Teen Robbed In Daytime


A 16-year-old was robbed on Saturday afternoon in Central Park.  

The brazen daytime robbery occurred on a park path near 79th Street and Fifth Avenue at 4:00pm.

The thief took $18.   

Police would not release any statements made to the victim. 

The assailant is described as a black male in his 30's,  bald, wearing a black jacket.

- Geoffrey Croft

Read More:

Robbed teen is 19th Central Park victim this year
New York Post -  May 25, 2015 - By Dana Sauchelli and Harry Shuldman

Tavern on the Green's Beer Garden Opens With Free Beer

Next Upper West Side Hot Spot? Located on the northern side of the newly renovated building the space can seat up 100 people and will be opnen till 1am on weekends.
 (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge


By Geoffrey Croft

Tavern on the Green's Beer Garden quietly opened on Friday in time for Memorial Day Weekend after a three week delay. 

The oudoor space is located on the north side of the building and can seat up to 100 people. 

The modest set up features three differant kinds of beer.  

The struggling eatery has been offering a complementary beer to visitors since opening.

"I guess they just want you to order food but the prices are way too high,"  said a Canadian tourist yesterday.  

"Eighteen dollars for a hamburger, come on."

Tavern continues on their high price points for food. Fare includes a soft pretzel with mustard ($ 9)  hamburger- with pickle ($18) and a Polish Kielbasa ($28). 

It will be open daily from noon to 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and till 11pm during the week. 

Menu for newly opened Tavern On The Green Beer Garden.

A pleasant host greets you and checks ID's.

 Complimentary beer ticket.

(Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge

Friday, May 22, 2015

Teen, 16, Stabbed In Queens Playground Gang Attack - Police Make Arrest

Cops last week searched for evidence and clues inside London Planetree Playground after a teen boy was stabbed in the park in a gang attack. They have one suspect in custody. Forum Photo by Robert Stridiron.
Police searched for evidence and clues inside London Planetree Playground after a teen boy was stabbed in the park in a gang attack. They have one suspect in custody. (Photo by Robert Stridiron/Forum) 


By Geoffrey  Croft

A 16-year-old male was stabbed in an Ozone Park playground NYC Park Advocates has learned.  

On Tuesday a vicious gang attacked the teen, repeating punching him and then stabbed him several times in the stomach.

The attack occurred in London Planetree Playground  near the park's comfort station near Atlantic Ave & 89th Street  at 11:35am within the confines of the 102nd Pct. according to police.  

At least three assailants punched the victim while at least two more stood over him while another  stabbed him with a knife, puncturing the teen's intestines which required surgery.   

The victim managed to make it a couple of blocks where he staggered into a Burger King at 92-02  Atlantic Avenue and collapsed face up in the eatery.

EMS responded to a 911 call at 11:44am and transported to Jamaica hospital in "serious"  condition according to a EMS spokesperson.

On Wednesday Police arrested Kevin Ortiz, 22 from 95th Avenue.

He was arraigned yesterday and charged with Attempted Murder in the  Second Degree, Gang Assault in the First Degree,  Assault In The First Degree, Endangering The Welfare Of A Child, Criminal Possession Of A Weapon In the Fourth Degree,

Ortiz's next court date is June 4th

Police are looking for at five other suspects  wanted in the assult.

Read More:

Cops Nab One in Ozone Park Playground Stabbing
The Forum - May 28, 2015 - By  Michael V. Cusenza

Boy stabbed in W’haven park 
Queens Chronicle -  May 28, 2015