Yo! Bus Began Chinatown Service This Morning

Yo! Bus began service on Pike Street December 18, 2012.

Yo! Bus, the Greyhound/Peter Pan discount service that hasn’t exactly been welcomed with open arms, began operating from Pike Street this morning.  After residents rejected the company’s first proposed bus stop on Essex Street, Yo! settled on a location along Pike, just above East Broadway.  There have been concerns about crowds gathering on the sidewalk and about traffic problems, but it’s safe to say all was quiet this morning at around 10:15 when we stopped by.  Greyhound staffers were on site to handle crowd control but there were no crowds to control.

Yo! Bus, a service meant to capture the Chinatown discount market, has eight departures and eight arrivals to/from Philadelphia each day.  The first departure is at 7 a.m.  The final drop-off is at 7:45 p.m.  There’s a ticket office at 98 East Broadway, which is just a few steps from the bus stop.

 

Update: East Broadway Raid Part of Big Immigration Fraud Investigation (Updated 2:30 p.m.)

Suspect is led from 2 East Broadway and into an unmarked van.

We have more photos and information concerning the FBI raid on several East Broadway offices today.  The Associated Press is reporting that several arrests have been made in connection with a sweeping immigration fraud investigation.  Federal prosecutors are expecting to charge about two dozen people, including several immigration attorneys.   Officials are planning to release more details concerning the investigation later today.

FBI agents as well as NYPD officers are stationed outside 2 East Broadway (near Bowery) this afternoon.  A short time ago, a man was led from the building as agents continue to search offices.  Agents were also milling around 11 East Broadway, the HSBC building at Catherine Street.

UPDATE 2:30 P.M. THE U.S. Justice Department has put out a press release concerning the investigation.  See excerpts below:

(Law enforcement officials) announced today the unsealing of nine Indictments charging a total of 26 defendants with allegedly participating in separate but overlapping immigration fraud schemes related to the submission of hundreds of asylum applications containing fabricated claims of persecution. As alleged in the Indictments, at least 10 New York City area law firms created and submitted these fraudulent applications on behalf of alien applicants and coached them on how to lie to immigration authorities. Of the 26 defendants charged, 21 work at the various law firms, six as attorneys. Also charged are four translators who work at an asylum office in Queens, New York; and an employee at a church in Queens where she allegedly provides training in basic Christianity to asylum applicants falsely claiming to have been persecuted in China for their religious beliefs. Twenty-one defendants were taken into custody late this morning and will be presented and arraigned this afternoon and tomorrow before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn. Of the remaining defendants, two will be surrendering tomorrow and three are at large.

You can see the full press release here.

See more photos from today’s raids after the jump.

Federal Agents Descend on East Broadway

The scene a few minutes ago at E. Broadway near Bowery.

A large number of FBI agents has moved in on at least two buildings along East Broadway today. It’s apparent that multiple locations within 2 East Broadway and 11 East Broadway are being searched. A spokesperson on site will say only that an investigation is underway. The NYPD has blocked off Catherine Street.

UPDATE – 12:10PM: Moments ago, a team of FBI agents escorted a middle-aged Chinese man out of 2 E. Broadway and in to an unmarked  van, which is still sitting on East Broadway.

 

Holiday Lights Being Installed in Chinatown

Thanks to Lo-Down reader and L.E.S. local, Jessica Delfino, for sending us this shot she took on the Bowery this morning.  More holiday light installation in action! Send us your photos here.

At Educational Alliance Preschool, Michelle Sarna Focuses on Community Building

Michelle Sarna with children at the Educational Alliance’s preschool.

Recently we caught up with Michelle Sarna, the new head of the Educational Alliance Preschool, to see how things are going after her first few months working on the Lower East Side.  The historic social service organization is undergoing a major transition, in part due to the gut-renovation of its flagship building at 197 East Broadway.   At the preschool, change is already in the air.

Sarna, who has advanced degrees in early childhood education and psychology, came to the Educational Alliance in September with a diverse background in public and private schools, college campuses, mental health clinics and synagogues.  She told us the goal in the next couple of years is to raise the profile of the preschool, fully integrating it into the community center that will be a focal point of the newly refurbished building.

Morning Reads: Danny Chen Cases Conclude, Shopping with the Girls Club, Public Art Project Ends

  • An Army officer will be tossed from the military but avoid trial in connection with the death of Private Danny Chen.  Chen’s parents and community activists will talk about the legal conclusion of the horrible ordeal later this morning in Chinatown (NYT).
  • People on the Lower East Side impacted by Sandy are eligible for food stamps, but the feds are not making it easy to apply (Daily News).
  • A post-Sandy shopping spree for the Lower East Side Girls Club (NYM).
  • Those construction crates on East 4th Street have been hauled off, meaning FAB’s public arts project has come to an end (EV Grieve).

 

Good Morning!

Sunday Morning on Orchard Street - Lower East Side - New York City

Sunday morning on Orchard Street. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa/nythroughthelens.com.

Foggy and cloudy early, followed by sunshine in the afternoon and a high of 52.

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