Sunday, February 27, 1977

A Cab Driver, 2nd in 4 Days, Shot to Death

A woman out for an early morning walk with her dog on Riverside Drive yesterday came across a gypsy cab nosed into the curb at a bus stop just south of 76th Street, the driver (Kenneth Wiley of 974 St Nicholas Ave) slumped at the wheel, dead with several bullet wounds to the head. It was the second fatal shooting of a taxi driver in Manhattan in four days. Initially the police identified Mr Wiley as Joseph Sparrow, 24, of the same address. Later, however, the dead man’s parents identified the body at the morgue and said that he had been using the name Sparrow as an alias.

excerpt from 2/27/77 NYT Joseph Treaster

Saturday, February 26, 1977

Alleged Gambling Club Raided Twice in Same Day

An alleged gambling casino in the Bronx was raided yesterday and closed twice by the police yesterday-shortly after midnight and again about 10:30pm after its proprietors had reopened with reserve dealers and makeshift gaming tables to replace employees and paraphernalia seized earlier. The police said that illegal but wide-open gambling operations had been under way, and under surveillance, for three weeks at the two-story former discotheque, where patrons played blackjack, poker, craps, baccarat and other games amid expensive furnishings that included a well-stocked bar. The Inspector described the backers of the Bronx club as members of organized crime, and noted that the Carmine Tramunti family was believed to be predominant in the Bronx. He said that the club had been so open about its operations that a brightly lighted sign had been posted outside the premises. ­

Excerpt from Robert McFadden New York Times Feb 26 1977

Thursday, February 24, 1977

Non-Negotiable Checks Included in Armed Yonkers Bank Robbery

Mr Besley also said that the investigators were no longer sure of the significance of a 22-inch hole in a basement wall abutting the lower-level offices of the bank. Earlier speculation was that bandits entered the bank’s offices from a public corridor in the six-story office building at 35 East Grassy Sprain Road through this hole. But Mr. Besley said the bandits could have easily gained access to the bank offices during a meeting of a local charity organization the night before in the bank’s basement community room.

excerpt NYT 2/24/77 Ronald Smothers

Wednesday, February 23, 1977

2 ‘Highly Professional’ Men Rob a Yonkers Bank Of Part or All of Receipts of 3 Nights at the Track

Detective Thomas Powrie of the Yonkers Police Department said it was just after 7:00am when Mary Fitzgerald and fellow employee John Franchi arrived at the bank to start their work day by opening the vault and taking cash boxes to the counting room. While Miss Fitzgerald started counting the contents of one of the boxes, Mr Franchi went downstairs to a community room in the basement that had been used for the local cancer society the night before, the detective said. It was there that Mr Franchi was confronted by a man with a gun and a second robber who also may have been armed. Both men wore ski masks over their faces and carried hand radios. A vice president of the bank, John Dwyer, said the robbers had acted in a ‘highly professional manner’. Authorities first went on the assumption that the robbers might have gained access last night during the community meeting in the bank’s basement and hid on the premises until morning. But late yesterday, Robert Besley, special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in New Rochelle, reported that investigators had found a hole in the basement wall, indicating that the men had broken through from the outside of the bank, which is surrounded by a parking lot. Mr. Besley said the hole had been hidden from view by a soft-drink vending machine and appeared to have been dug from an areaway outside the basement. He added that a bank janitor had told investigators that he had first noticed the 16-inch hole about three weeks ago and that he had reported it. Mr. Besley said, however, that the bank management denied having been informed of it.

excerpt NYT 2/23/77 Wolfgang Saxon

Tuesday, February 22, 1977

Loiterer Shot Dead in Hallway, Assailant Wounded by Police

A 25-year-old man, reportedly annoyed at the throngs of pimps and prostitutes congregating in the hallway of his Harlem apartment building yesterday afternoon fatally shot one of the loiterers and wounded another, according to the police. The suspect was shot in the hip when he fired in the direction of two policemen, and they fired back at him. The suspect was identified as Ralph Slayton of 100 East 124th Street, where the shootings occurred.

NYT 2/22/77

Round 7 for Cockfighting Bill

For the seventh year running, Assemblyman Armando Montano, at the urging of his South Bronx constituents, has introduced a bill to legalize cockfighting in New York State. For the seventh year running, the bill has been sent to the Assembly Agriculture Committee, where it is expected to roost for the rest of the session.

“There are a lot of Puerto Ricans and Hispanics in the state and in the city who would like to see it legalized.” It’s a culture thing. “Every Puerto Rican enjoys a good cockfight.”

In fact the sport’s attraction goes quite a bit further, said Clifton Bryant, a professor of sociology at Virginia Tech who has studies cockfighting extensively.

Surveying a thousand readers of Grit and Steel, a 77-year-old magazine that deals exclusively with cockfighting, the professor found aficionados in many walks of life, many ethnic groups, all income levels – and a substantial number of families that raise and fight roosters as a hobby.

“Apparently, the family that cockfights together stays together,” he said. “It’s one of those stable kinds of arrangements.”

Excerpt from NYT Meislin 2/22/77

Monday, February 21, 1977

Police Cutbacks in New York City Appear to Be Lowering Morale

Most officers and commanders attribute the morale woes mainly to the long dispute over a deferred salary increase and new “chart,” or work schedules, that require officers to work 10 more days a year. Preliminary reports show that there was about a 15 percent increase in crime here last year compared with 1975, a rise of about triple the national average. More than 600,000 felonies, or serious crimes, were apparently reported in the city, the highest since 1971, thus making 1976 a record crime year for New York. Because of the city’s fiscal crisis, the Police Department in three years has lost 6000 officers and supervisors and now is at a strength of about 25,000. The cutbacks have led to the transfers of thousands of older officers from desk jobs and specialty units to street patrol.

NYT 2/21/77 Selwyn Raab

FALN Blast Suspect May be Disguised as Woman

The New York City police said yesterday that a fugitive suspected of belonging to a Puerto Rican terrorist bomb group and of having had a “bomb factory” in his home might have disguised himself as a woman while in hiding.

NYT Kihss 2/21/77

Midtown Beat: Stalking the Pimp

It was 8:05 PM Two plainclothes police officers were patrolling up Eighth Ave near 52nd St when they spotted what they were looking for: A parked navy Eldorado with a telephone inside and the initials “FEC” on the license plates. It was, the officers said, Frank Cruz’s pimpmobile. The officers are members of the Pimp Squad, a seven-member police unit formed 10 months ago to cut down on prostitution in NYC by going after the pimps who promote it. The officers crossed Eighth Ave and entered the San Souci bar, which they described as “the most notorious pimp hangout in the city.” There at the end of the smoky bar, was Mr. Cruz, standing with a group of about 10 other flashily dressed men. He was wearing a studded, rose-colored suit and a wide-brimmed hat. The Pimp Squad, believed to be the only one of its kind in the country, was formed last April 15 in response to the growing number of pimps and prostitutes in the midtown area and to their increasingly brazen behavior. At the time, city officials were eager to get the area cleaned up before out-of-town visitors descended upon the city for Operation Sail and the DNC. As of Feb 11, squad members had arrested 82 pimps and 13 of their associates. “Sometimes you get the feeling that it’s us against the cruds,” said Sgt George Trapp, a tough, 14 year police force veteran who heads the squad. “But it’s very rewarding when you pull even one idiot off the street and lock him up. Sgt Trapp, who formerly headed a prostitution task force, estimated that he knew personally about 1,100 of the city’s 2000 street prostitutes and 100 of the 600 pimps. About 20 percent of the prostitutes are under the age of 16, he said.

Judy Klemerrud NYT 2/21/77

Winter’s 8th Storm, Freakish and Loud, Intrudes on Holiday (Washington’s Birthday)

A whimsical storm, with temperatures flirting about the freezing level, pelted the metropolitan area with alternating falls of snow, sleet and hail yesterday and drew some weather-weary New York City residents to their windows when it produced some unlikely thumps of thunder as well as some lightning.

excerpt from NYT 2/21/77 Maurice Carroll

Saturday, February 19, 1977

Two Skyscrapers Damaged by Bombs in Mid-Manhattan

Two powerful bomb explosions extensively damaged the Chrysler and Gulf & Western Buildings (Columbus Circle) in midtown Manhattan last night. A lobby guard, Luis Carrera, said the explosion was “enormous” and had shaken the entire building. The police and firemen evacuated cleaning crews, night shift workers and patrons from the 43rd-florr restaurnant Top Of The Park.

Saxon NYT 2/19/77

Wednesday, February 16, 1977

From the Police Blotter:

A 67-year-old man was killed in the Brownsville section when two men accosted him to demand his money and one of them then shot him twice in the stomach.

Three police officers arrested a 16-year-old youth accused of robbing a 79-year-old man in his home and then trying to smother him with a pillow.

A store clerk in a Fotomat shop in Farmingdale LI was robbed of $23 and a roll of film, and the Nassau County police said the robber apparently was the same man who held up two other Fotomat stores in Hicksville and Island Park on Jan 31.

excerpt NYT 2/16/77

Man Shot in Hospital

A 24-year-old Queens man who was wounded five days ago in a shooting that cost another man his life was shot again yesterday, this time in a hospital where he was recuperating from his original injuries. Police sources speculate that both shootings might have been connected with dope racketeering. A single bullet struck Mr. Oscar Roldan in the arm and neck.

excerpt NYT 2/16/77

Tuesday, February 15, 1977

Woman’s Body Found on 39th St.; Elevator Operator Held in the Slaying

The body of a young Brooklyn woman who was eight months’ pregnant was discovered yesterday in a cardboard box on a sidewalk in the garment center. Ten hours later the police took into custody a part-time elevator operator in a building she had visited. According to the police, the woman, 21-year-old Rachel Brecher, the wife of a rabbinical student, was forced into a large oil-burning furnace in the basement of the building she had visited on Thursday afternoon to buy a coat. The Medical Examiner’s office determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation. The police said the asphyxiation had been caused by the fire. Mrs. Brecher’s body-nude, charred and blood stained- was found with a shopping bag in a cardboard box in front of 244 West 39th Street, where she visited the Gabriel Coat and Suit Company. A sanitation man discovered it at 1 AM yesterday.

At about 9 PM on Thursday night, Mrs. Brecher’s parents, Leah and Harry Klein, went to the building in the hope of finding their daughter, when she failed to return home. They later recalled having passed the cardboard box in which the body had been placed.

excerpt from NYT 2/15/77

Monday, February 14, 1977

Raleigh Warehouse Looting 650 W 30th

The warehouses burned for days, beginning January 9th and have been looted since then.

“It was balmy weather for Sunday afternoon looting, and hardly anybody went away empty-handed yesterday from a row of burned-out warehouses on West 30th Street near 12th Avenue. Families on outings stopped by to join a constant stream of children and youths carrying away toys, cheap jewelry, plastic cameras, baskets, canned sardines, bottled shampoo and huge rolls of fake-fur fabric. With not much more than 300 shopping days till Christmas, there was a brisk demand for plastic snoopy dogs, swords, locomotives, horns, popguns and football helmets.” “I got a lot of toys before,” said one youth happily. “Now my mother sent me back for some fur.” The warehouses were among six that burned for several days, beginning Jan 9th, and have not been boarded up. Mark Schmidt, the lone watchman, who was trying to keep a finger in the dike, said he could only “try to be nice to the people and let them take just what’s outside the building.” Police Officer Steven Berenhaus said he had made three arrests yesterday and one three weeks ago of a man who had taken 30 cartons of toys away in a van. He said the police cars had too many sectors to cover” to stay around long. “The owner doesn’t seem to care-I guess he’s just as soon have the stuff stolen,” said Sgt Richard Ecklord. There were no police barricades to block the street.

excerpt from Laurie Johnston NYT 2/14/77

Wednesday, February 02, 1977

Major Crimes Wane With The Cold Wave

Metropolitan Area Reports a Sharp Decline in Robbery, Burglary, Assault and Car Theft

The cold wave has apparently had one desirable side effect: it has, at least temporarily, snapped the crime wave. Since the onset of frigid weather in December, there has been an abrupt decrease in the metropolitan area in most major crime categories. “Officer Frost is one of our best criminal deterrents,” said Assistant Chief Joseph F Veyvoda commander of all uniformed officers in Queens.

excerpt from 2/2/77 NYT Selwyn Raab