Cops from the 114th Precinct were able to find and arrest a violent criminal in Astoria using non-traditional bait – the dating site Plenty of Fish, the precinct’s commander reported on Tuesday night.
On Dec. 5, 2016 at about 7:20 a.m., officers received a call about an assault in progress in Astoria. The victim told them that, while attempting to break up with her boyfriend, he punched her in the face with a nail in his hand. The woman suffered a laceration near her left eye, according to Deputy Inspector Peter Fortune, commanding officer of the 114th Precinct.
Cops were unable to find him, but they took a complaint report and kept the investigation open. Officer Otto Pereira, a member of the domestic violence unit, took on the case. During the investigation, Pereira found out that the suspect had six criminal contempt charges for violating an order of protection from the same woman.
It was also discovered that he had checked into a drug rehabilitation center after the assault. For weeks, it was impossible for police to know here he was being treated because of patient confidentiality laws. A break in the case came when the victim alerted police to a dating site profile he created on Plenty of Fish.
The free online dating site has more than 90 million registered users, according to its website. Pereira advised the victim to make a fake profile to lure in her ex-boyfriend into a meeting.
“Surprisingly, after several days the perpetrator took the bait,” Fortune said.
On Jan. 25, the victim also called the suspect and convinced him to meet her at a bar in Manhattan. While the victim stayed at the precinct, a female officer went to the location to act as a decoy and the NYPD Warrent Squad was also there.
The suspect was arrested at the bar. The NYPD worked with District Attorney Richard A. Brown’s office to “enhance the case,” Fortune said. They discovered that the suspect, who is in his late 30s, had 42 previous arrests. Because of his arrests and six criminal contempt charges, the victim is now remanded in jail on an attempted murder charge.
Officer Pereira was honored with the Cop of the Month award for January during the Feb. 28 114th Precinct Community Council meeting “for his professionalism in which he conducted this though investigation,” Fortune said.