Rape Victim Sues NYCHA After Attack at Baruch Houses

577 FDR Drive.

577 FDR Drive.

According to the New York Post, the victim of a rape at the Baruch Houses this past November has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority.

Police arrested 20-year-old Robert Bowie and charged him with the attack, as well as two other attempted rapes on the Lower East Side on the same day. Police said Bowie was waiting in a stairwell near the woman’s apartment. He’s accused of forcing his way inside and brutally attacking the 40-year-old victim. The locks were broken on the front door of the building, located at 577 FDR Drive.

The lawsuit states that the locks were “broken, unsafe [and] hazardous.” The woman is asking for unspecified damages. A NYCHA spokesperson told the Post that security is a “top priority” but declined to comment specifically on this lawsuit.

Residents of the Baruch Houses say door locks throughout the sprawling complex are routinely broken. The front door was unlocked when we stopped by 577 FDR Drive earlier today.

Bowie pleaded not guilty and is being held on $150,000 bail.

D.A.: Huge Cocaine Ring Busted on Lower East Side

cocaine-614x482

The DA released this graphic showing images pulled from the social media accounts of several suspects.

The Manhattan District Attorney announced today the indictment of 41 people from two Lower East Side public housing developments for allegedly selling hundreds of thousands of dollars of cocaine.  The operation, investigators allege, involved 33 members of the “Blocc Boyz” gang at the Baruch Houses, who are “accused of using car services to deliver cocaine to customers throughout Manhattan.”  A separate indictment alleges that eight members of the “Money Boyz” gang based at the Campos Plaza development on East 13th Street sold cocaine and crack.

“As this indictment reveals, residents of Manhattan today can get nearly everything delivered to their doorstep – from dinner, to dry cleaning, and even cocaine,” District Attorney Cy Vance is quoted as saying in a press release we received a short time ago.  “Unbelievably, they made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from this service at the same time they were living in city-subsidized housing as NYCHA residents. Hardworking families should not have to live side-by-side with drug dealers poisoning their communities.”  Police Commissioner Ray Kelly added, “Many of the suspects in this case have violent histories, including murder, manslaughter, and gang assault. There also are unsolved shootings which we believe involve retaliatory violence among street crews on the Lower East Side.”

The case against the Blocc Boyz is summarized in the press release:

According to the indictment, Blocc Boyz is comprised of members of two Lower East Side street gangs – “Cash is King” and “Stack” – that operated a major cocaine trafficking ring based out of the Baruch Houses, where many of the defendants reside. Since approximately April 2010, the defendants are charged with obtaining, transporting, processing, packaging, selling, and delivering large quantities of powder cocaine to customers throughout Manhattan.  Members of the Blocc Boyz are accused of using car services to deliver the drugs to buyers, including to residences on the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, and Midtown Manhattan, as well as in Brooklyn and Queens. Customers of this ring generally paid $120 per gram of cocaine. Two of the defendants – DERRELL UNDERWOOD, 30, and GERALD ESPINAL, 60 – are employed as livery drivers.

Since late 2011, the D.A. asserted, members of the “Money Boyz”  sold “large quantities” of cocaine to undercover police officers.  A Campos resident, Christopher Slater, 23, is accused of overseeing the operation.

 

CHARGES/BLOCC BOYZ

  • Anthony Alvarez: Operating as a major trafficker, among other charges
  • Robert Amador: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Amaris Aviles: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Rasheem Brown: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Larry Candido: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Michele Cruz: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • Stephanie Dominguez: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • Gerald Espinal: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • William Garcia: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • Greily Gomez: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Cristian Hernandez: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Jason Mirabal: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Adam Oquendo: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • Jimmy Outlaw: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Wilson Pichardo: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Jose Rios: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • Adrian Rivera: Operating as a major trafficker, among other charges
  • Elliot Rodriguez: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • Mario Rodriguez: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Michael Austin Rodriguez: Operating as a major trafficker, among other charges
  • Michael Rosado: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • Jahmel Sanders: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Victor Santiago: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree
  • Victor Serrano: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • Sean Steele, Jr.: Operating as a major trafficker, among other charges
  • Derrell Underwood: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • Krista Zuniga: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges

 

CHARGES/MONEY BOYZ

  • Elliot Caldwell: Conspiracy in the 4th degree
  • Joshua Igartua: Conspiracy in the 2nd degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other charges
  • Tasheem Knight: Conspiracy in the 4th degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance
  • Kelvin Joaquin: Conspiracy in the 4th degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance
  • Christian Manley: Conspiracy in the 4th degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance
  • Christopher Slater: criminal sale of a controlled substance (3rd degree), conspiracy in the 4th degree, other charges

 

UPDATED 3:35 p.m. The Post adds:

The accused king- and queen-pins of the Lower East Side-based “Blocc Boyz” partied hard at a Queens strip joint — “Perfection,” near LaGuardia airport, where accused gangster Krista Zuniga danced — then posted photos of their cavorting onto Facebook and Instagram, officials alleged. Other gangsters posted pictures and YouTube videos of themselves flashing gang signs and waving wads of cash, again making it easy for investigators to chart their affiliations and whereabouts, according to the indictments accusing 41 men and women of conspiracy and drug sales.

 

 

Breaking: Gun Battle Near Baruch Houses Late Last Night

There was a lot of activity around the Baruch Houses late last night. Gunfire erupted about 1:30 a.m. as police were questioning a man on Columbia Street. Police say the man opened fire on police officers Thomas Richards and Thomas Dunne, and then fled down Rivington Street.

According to WABC, “one of the bullets, a 9mm round, was deflected by the spare ammunition magazine on Officer Richards’ gunbelt on his left abdomen.”  Richards fired back at the suspect.  As the officers chased him towards Baruch Drive more shots were exchanged. Police reported that 25-year old Luis Martinez was hit in the upper right leg.  They chased him into a 6th floor apartment, where an arrest was made. WABC reported that police found a 9mm Taurus handgun in a trash compacter in the apartment.

Martinez was taken to Bellevue Hospital.  The officers were briefly hospitalized, but later released.

We’ll have more details throughout the day.

 

Family of Woman Murdered in Baruch Houses Sues City

Jomali Morales

The family of Jomali Morales, the woman violently killed in the Baruch Houses last winter, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, seeking unspecified damages.

Morales’ body was found in an elevator at Baruch February 12th. She had been stabbed 20 times. A 19-year old resident of the city’s largest public housing complex, Markeece Dunning, was arrested and charged with second degree murder.  The 42-year old woman, who was born and raised on the Lower East Side, had been out in the neighborhood, celebrating her birthday the night of the killing.

According to the Post, Morales’ mother, Petra Montanez (also known as Petra Vitale), filed the civil lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority in Manhattan Supreme Court.

The suit alleges the city knew the Baruch Houses were “infested with criminals” but neglected to evict tenants with “vicious properties, violent outbreaks and prior violent acts, criminal backgrounds, gang affiliations and criminal behavior,”

Morales did not live in Baruch. She had been staying temporarily with her mother, a Grand Street resident. Dunning was arrested one month after the murder. He allegedly confessed to the crime. He had been arrested on at least 11 previous occasions for drug possession, trespassing and gang assault, among other charges.  Dunning has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Morales case.  He’s due back in court in October.

Arrest Made in the Murder of Jomali Morales

Channel 7 is reporting tonight that police have arrested a suspect in the brutal murder of Jomali Morales at the Baruch Houses last month. According to the story, 19-year old Markeece Dunning confessed to the crime and has been charged with second degree murder. Dunning has been arrested 11 previous times on various allegations,  including drug possession, trespassing and gang assault.

Morales’ body was found in an elevator at the public housing development February 12th. She had been stabbed 20 times.  It’s unclear whether Dunning, a Baruch resident, and Morales knew each other before the night of the murder. Just last week, 7th Precinct Deputy Inspector Nancy Barry pleaded with the public for information about the crime.

Morales grew up on the Lower East Side. Her mother, Petra Vitale, still lives on Grand Street. More details to come…

Follow-up: The Murder of Jomali Morales

The Times just posted a follow-up on the brutal murder of Jomali Morales, the woman whose body was found in an elevator at the Baruch Houses February 12th. Two excerpts:

The murder was overshadowed by the unrelated citywide manhunt and arrest of a suspect in four other killings. But this case sent ripples through one particular city population: the New York Police Department. Ms. Morales’s half-brother, Joseph Vitale, is a 20-year veteran police officer who, assigned to the Manhattan South Task Force, has worked the very area where she lost her life. Perhaps second only to the murder of a fellow officer, in terms of let’s-find-this-guy determination, would be the murder of an officer’s kid sister, and residents of 555 Roosevelt have said detectives have been up and down its halls many times since Feb. 12. There is a $12,000 reward for information. But so far, no arrests and no known suspects.