By Rebecca Henely
The Queens district attorney’s office announced Friday it has charged 46 men and women — including two men who allegedly pushed drugs out of a day care — in a massive, seven-month drug sweep of LeFrak City coordinated between the office and the Police Department.
Residents of the Corona housing project, as well as a South Jamaica resident and a South Ozone Park resident, allegedly sold a multitude of drugs to a group of undercover officers, the DA said. In addition to the daycare bust, the most disturbing of these arrests included a city Taxi & Limousine Commission inspector who allegedly set a pit bull whose vocal cords had been severed on an NYPD detective after the inspector was caught smoking pot, the DA said.
“These arrests underscore our commitment to improve the quality of life for the residents of LeFrak City,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.
Police began investigating LeFrak City in March after the NYPD’s Queens Narcotics Division got information about drug dealing near the 18-story complex, at 59-17 Junction Blvd., the DA said. NYPD sent undercover officers to the complex, where they were allegedly able to buy crack, powdered cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methadone, Ecstasy, codeine and Xanax out of various apartments, the DA said.
Police also used 13 court-authorized search warrants of apartments at LeFrak and found almost 7 pounds of marijuana, more than 2 pounds of cocaine, more than 3,600 in pills, $3,400 in cash and a .25-caliber semi-automatic handgun, the DA said.
The most notorious arrest was made out of a LeFrak apartment licensed by the state as the Burke-Arthur Day Care Center, which is owned by Diane Burke and can care for 12 children from ages 6 to 12, the DA said. Burke’s son. Hector Rodriguez, and the father of Burke’s daughter’s baby, Donnell Burnhill, have been charged with selling undercover officers marijuana, crack cocaine and Ecstacy pills from the center, the DA said. Burke was not charged with any crimes.
“When they used a day-care center from which to sell drugs, dealers set a new record for how low they can go,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement.
Police also arrested 62-year-old Eugene Griffin, a TLC inspector, whom police allegedly saw leaving LeFrak as he smoked a marijuana cigarette Oct. 19 at 6 a.m., the DA said. When police ordered him to stay where he was, he went back into the apartment, the DA said.
Police followed him back in and the residents allegedly released a pit bull whose vocal cords had been cut to take away its ability to bark, the DA said. The dog attacked and bit a detective on the right knee through his pants, the DA said. The detective was taken to an unnamed Queens hospital for seven stitches and rabies testing, the DA said.
Officers also arrested Griffin’s wife, Joanne Griffin, their son Omar Griffin and another resident, Ricketta Smith, on drug, weapons and assault charges, the DA said.
All in all, 17 have been indicted and there are criminal court complaints against 29 people in the drug sweep, the DA said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.