Local - NYC / NJ / CT (67)


A defrocked priest pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of sexually abusing a young girl on Long Island.

Augusto Cortez, 53, pleaded not guilty to criminal sexual act, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

Spota said the crimes occurred in June 2014 and Cortez was indicted by a grand jury in October of that year.


But Cortez fled to South America in 2014 to avoid arrest, officials said. He was arrested by Southampton Town police April 22 when he was returned to the U.S.

He is being held without bail and is scheduled to return to court May 15.

Cortez is a registered sex offender; he was convicted of forcible touching in Brooklyn in 2009.



Four Hudson County Sheriff's officers helped evacuate residents from a massive three alarm fire on Gray Street late Sunday night, officials said.

The fire at 34 Gray St. was first reported at about 11:30 p.m. about one block away from the Sheriff's office on Cornelison Avenue. Officers at the building saw the flames, called the fire department and ran over to the four story home, city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said.

At least one of the officers pulled a man out of the basement while the others evacuated the rest of the building, Morrill said.

Firefighters battled the blaze for hours because there was a weakened roof from renovations that were "done improperly adding to the extent of the fire," she said.

The four officers, along with two children and another adult, were treated for smoke inhalation. The fire was brought under control at about 2 a.m., two and a half hours after the blaze was first reported. 



The American Red Cross is assisting 14 people from four families who were affected by the fire. The cause of the fire may have been from a defective space heater on the first floor of the building, Morrill said.



A 25-year-old man was arrested on back-to-back days at LaGuardia Airport for trying to bring weapons through security, authorities said.

Michael A. Rios Jr. of Bangor, Maine attempted to go through a checkpoint at Terminal D with a gravity knife and metal knuckles in his carry-on bag at 8:10 a.m Friday, Port Authority police said in a statement.

Screeners saw the weapons and stopped him.



Rios returned the following day, police said. This time he allegedly tried to board with an air pistol, six knives, throwing stars and other items at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, according to police.

He was twice charged with criminal possession of a weapon. No flights were delayed.

One Port Authority Police Officer told SuperStation95 

"I don't know what his intent was, but I have a feeling he has bad intent."




A horrific house fire has killed five people in Queens, NY -- four of them children!

Authorities have identified the victims of Sunday's house fire in Queens that killed five people, New York City's deadliest fire in two years.

Police say the victims were 2-year-old Chayse Lipford, 10-year-old Rayshawn Matthews, 16-year-old Jada Foxworth, 17-year-old Melody Edwards, and 20-year-old Destiny Dones. Four of them are said to be members of the same extended family, while the fifth is a family friend.

A sixth person, identified by relatives as 46-year-old Maurice Matthews, was able to escape out a second-floor window and was taken to New York Hospital Center of Queens in satisfactory condition. He is reportedly Rayshawn's father and Chase's grandfather.

Fire investigators said they have not found any working smoke detectors in the house. They are trying to determine what sparked the fire, but they say that it is not considered suspicious and is believed to have started on the first floor.

The blaze broke out in a house on 112-16 208th Street in Queens Village just after 2:30 p.m. and also spread to an adjacent home. That home was damaged, but no one was home at the time.







(Photos: Peter Gerber)

The three-alarm fire took hours to get under control, and the wooden frame of the house burned quickly.

The flames were so intense that the black smoke drew neighbors from their homes, and the flames could be seen by firefighters before they arrived, leading them to call in extra crews.

They struggled to reach some of the victims who were as high up as the attic, a "super-human" task for firefighters to reach people in a home engulfed by such a massive fire, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

They managed to bring a 2-year-old and someone else from the attic where they had been trapped, he said, but they were too late to save them.

Investigators will closely examine a car parked in a driveway between the two houses that burned, as the fire appears to have started or spread through the car to the two adjacent homes.

Witnesses heard tires pop, which may have been mistaken for an explosion, and Nigro said the preliminary investigation indicates the fire did not start from the car.

"We are just beginning our investigation," Nigro said. "Our fire marshals will determine where the fire started, they'll determine how it started, they'll work with police detectives and we'll come to a conclusion. But we're far from that right now."

Distraught family members and neighbors showed up to the scene, crying and asking 'why would God let this happen?'

Distraught family still showing up here. Asking "why would god let this happen?" @ABC7NY

Four firefighters suffered minor injuries.

The mother of the 2-year-old victim was away on vacation and left him in the hands of relatives.

"She's a good mother, she was always with her baby," relative Sheener Bailey Briggs said. "And she went for the first time on an airplane, the first time away from her baby and she just found out. Just pray for the family."

The fire was the deadliest in the city since March 2015, when a house fire in Brooklyn killed seven children, all siblings. That fire was touched off by a hot plate.



Police have arrested an alleged drunk driver after a married couple was struck and killed on a road in Massapequa Park Saturday night.

According to detectives, while attempting to cross Merrick Road on foot just east of Park Blvd. at about 8:10 p.m.,the husband and wife were struck by an eastbound 2015 Ford Explorer driven by John Hartwig, 63, of Massapequa.


The victims, both 77 years old, were taken to an area hospital where they were pronounced dead.

Police say Hartwig was found to have been driving in an intoxicated condition and was placed under arrest at the scene.

He is charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.

The names of the victims have not yet been released.





A police officer investigating a double-parked vehicle was attacked by two men and knocked to the ground in the brawl, police said. 

Both suspects were arrested. One was taken into custody when other officers intervened; the second fled, changed clothes and stood among the crowd when he was recognized and arrested, police said. 



Officer Adam Fingeroth was investigating a double-parked vehicle on Howard Drive in Bergenfield when the driver, Junior Jimenez-Mariano, 21, got out of the vehicle and attacked, police said. 

The pair was on the ground when Daniel Jimenez-Villanueva, 20, also attacked the officer, police said. 

Officers from Bergenfield, Teaneck, Englewood, Tenafly and Bergen County's K9 unit responded, police said. 

It's not clear whether Jimenez-Mariano or Jimenez-Villanueva had attorneys. 


An alarming number of people high on K-2 are stumbling into the hospital in Newark.  K-2 is a type of synthetic Marijuana.

It all started yesterday when police found 12 people sick and foaming at the mouth after using synthetic marijuana in the area of Railroad Avenue.

Since then, the number of patients has spiked to 40.


Most of them are homeless.

Friday night, police are trying to find whoever is dealing the K-2.

Anyone with information about this incident to call the Department's 24-hour Crime Stopper tip line at 1-877-NWK-TIPS (1-877-695-8477) or 1-877-NWK-GUNS (1-877-695-4867). All anonymous Crime Stopper tips are kept confidential and could result in a reward.



An electrician and two off-duty police officers are being hailed as heroes after they rescued an 84 year old woman from a New Jersey pond Sunday night.

A multi-vehicle crash on Hope Road in Eatontown around 9 p.m., right in front of the Double Tree Hotel, resulted in one of the three involved vehicles ending up in a retention pond.

Motorists in the area immediately stopped and jumped into action, providing aid to the driver of the vehicle that was stuck in the water.

Two of the Good Samaritans, Donnamarie Viola-Disbrow and Vinny Disbrow, are married off-duty Jersey City police officers who had just dropped off their daughter at Monmouth University after Easter dinner when they happened on the scene.

They waded into the pond, where they met John McGowan, an electrician from Red Bank who also witnessed the crash and was the first one in the water.

Together, they muscled the car, still afloat, back toward the edge of the pond. Water had begun flooding into the Buick, chilling the woman behind the wheel.

"At that point, the car was filling up with water, and our concern was that it was at her lap," Vinny Disbrow said. "Then it was up to her chest, and the engine was actually turning into the water, and it was on an incline, so it was going back in."


Other witnesses reported that the woman was banging the window with her shoulder, desperately trying to escape.

"She's going, 'I'm freezing,'" Vinny Disbrow said. "I think she was getting scared, because it's filling up with water."

When first responders arrived, an officer passed his baton to Disbrow, who smashed the front window.

The Disbrows were able to pull the victim out of the vehicle and carry her up the bank, where arriving medics took over.

Witnesses said that if there hadn't been as many rescuers on hand, the car likely would have gone under with the driver inside.

"It was just a miracle how the three of them were there at the right time," John McGowan's fiance Michele DeCarlo said.

The driver that was rescued was transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center for further medical evaluation. She is now resting at home.



First responders from across New Jersey and neighboring states convened on a pile of rubble at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on Friday afternoon, setting to work on what looked like a city in ruin.

Decommissioned NJ Transit trains sat toppled over on crumbled concrete. K9 teams scrambled over mangled rebar in search of survivors. Nearby, teams snapped together the skeletons of tents that would allow medical crews and engineers to settle in for the long haul.

Dubbed "Operation Fallout," the exercise was meant to test the mettle of New Jersey Task Force One, the state's urban search and rescue team, along with local emergency crews and other first responders.

Each year, the base hosts the drill, which is designed to assess the state's ability to respond to a disaster and work out the kinks in coordinating such a massive response.

Previous years have focused on responding to natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, but this year first responders were drilling a more sinister scenario: a potential terror attack with an improvised explosive device that has left infrastructure crumbled and scattered survivors beneath the wreckage.



The search and rescue team is run by the state Office of Emergency Management under the State Police, but it is comprised of more than 200 volunteers who are on call to be deployed for emergencies here in New Jersey and across the country. 

"When a catastrophe hits, everybody runs away," said Ronald Klebacher, a doctor who volunteers as the medical manager for the search and rescue team, as he was assembling a medical tent. "But somebody needs to be there to help."


Far Worse Drill coming Monday & Tuesday

Another "Drill" will be conducted in northern New Jersey on Monday and Tuesday, with a far more terrible premise: The detonation of a ten kiloton nuclear bomb on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, in Weehawkin.

That Drill, code named "Operation Gotham Shield" will be utterly massive, with MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford being used as a "Triage center" staffed with Doctors, Nurses, Fire/Rescue and EMS personell, receving simulated "victims" via at least a dozen helicopters and upwards of fifty ambulances.

In Gotham Shield, another component of the simulation is the effect of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) in a 20 miles radius of the simulated explosion, which destroys all electronics - and the electric grid in northeastern New Jersey and the five boroughs of New York City.

SuperStation95 coverage of  "Gotham Shield" can be found HERE and HERE.



New York Fire Department Firefighter William Tolley, 42, of Bethpage, was killed when he fell to the ground while battling a fire at an apartment building in Queens Thursday afternoon.

Investigators are reviewing video that shows the ladder on the truck swaying as Tolley fell, which matches similar witness accounts. The firefighter may have been moving between the roof and the bucket at the top of the ladder at the time he fell.

Tolley was going to the roof to help ventilate the building, a routine maneuver. He was not fighting the fire, which officials said "was not under control, but was mainly extinguished" at the time of the fall.

The call came in at 2:20 p.m. The truck's ladder was extended to the roof, and the firefighters were moving between the bucket and the roof at the time. Multiple eyewitnesses said the tower ladder suddenly jerked.

"I feel sad for his family, because I saw everything," said Norberto Arellano, an eyewitness.



Tolley was rushed to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in critical condition. He died a short time later.

"Hearing the impact, you knew he couldn't survive that. It just sounded like a very big bang," said Angie Cordero, an eyewitness.

The blaze was confined to an apartment at 1615 Putnam Ave., on the second floor, with three minor injuries. The five-story apartment building is just off Wyckoff Avenue in Ridgewood.

The fire, which a city official characterized as a relatively minor second-alarm fire, was placed under control at 3 p.m.

"There was nothing about the fire that really had anything to do with the accident that occurred," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "It was really in the operation he was performing on the roof, which is a routine operation for us, and somehow he fell from the roof."

Tolley is survived by his wife, Marie; 8-year-old daughter, Isabella; brother, Bobby; and both of his parents. He spent his entire FDNY career with Ladder 135.

The last firefighter killed in the line of duty was Deputy Chief Michael Fahy, who died in an explosion at a marijuana grow house in the Bronx on Sept. 27, 2016.


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