Man convicted in slay of LIC livery driver

By Chris Engelhardt

A Brooklyn man was convicted Monday in the 2010 slaying of a 62-year-old livery cab driver during an attempted armed robbery in Long Island City, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Gregory Johnson, 36, of Brooklyn, was found guilty Monday evening of second-degree murder, attempted robbery, criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence following a three-week jury trial before Queens Supreme Court Justice Daniel Lewis. Johnson, who faces up to 25 years to life in prison, was scheduled to be sentenced July 2.

In addition, a second defendant, Auther Lattan, 25, whose last known address is in Brooklyn, is currently awaiting trial on the same charges.

Brown said that, according to trial testimony, Johnson — and it is alleged Lattan — were wearing ski masks and gloves around 11:30 p.m. Jan. 8, 2010, when they arrived at the business offices of Crosslands Corporate Transportation, at 35-44 11th St. in Long Island City. They approached a car service vehicle with driver Jaroslaw Bielawski, 62, of Brooklyn, and passenger and car service company owner Mamadouh Elsayed, whom Bielawski was about to drive home.

Johnson walked up to Bielawski’s front window and motioned for Bielawski to roll down the window. Instead, Bielawski attempted to drive off and Johnson drew a handgun and fired three rounds into the vehicle, the first of which shattered Bielawski’s side front window and struck him in the brain, causing his death, the DA said.

Immediately following the shooting, Johnson — and allegedly Lattan — fled in separate directions, he said.

Brown said forensic evidence introduced at trial revealed that DNA samples recovered from one of the gloves abandoned at the crime scene matched Lattan’s DNA. Johnson was taken into custody following Lattan’s arrest April 21, 2010. Johnson, who worked with Bielawski at the same car service and had been on a leave of absence from Crosslands, returned to work less than two weeks after the murder.

“The victim in this case was a hardworking New Yorker,” Brown said. “His death was senseless and shocking, motivated by the basest of emotions — greed — and committed by a colleague. Thanks to the diligence of police and prosecutors in pursuing this case the defendant has now been held accountable for his crime and justifiably faces a lengthy time behind bars.”

Attorney Jonathan Latimer, who is representing Johnson, said he intends to appeal the conviction, but declined further comment.

Reach reporter Chris Engelhardt by e-mail at cengelhardt@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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