By Philip Newman
The Queens District Attorney’s office has received a $556,000 grant from the state of New York in the fight against auto crime and insurance fraud.
DA Richard Brown praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the gift. which he said would significantly bolster the borough’s successful struggle against auto crimes.
The grant provided to the Queens office was part of an overall $3.7 million funding package that Cuomo recently announced was being awarded to district attorneys’ offices and 12 counties as well as the New York Police and Fire Department. Two training organizations will also receive funds.
The $556,000 portion of the grant to the Queens district attorney’s office from the State Division of Criminal Justice Services was the largest single award.
“In Queens County auto theft has long been a benchmark in measuring my office’s effectiveness in combating crime,” Brown said. Since he became district attorney in 1991, the rate of auto theft in Queens has plummeted by 96 percent from a high of about 52,000 vehicles stolen to slightly over 2,400 a year.
Brown said the new money would provide the salaries of four full-time assistant district attorneys assigned to the office’s Auto Crime and Insurance Fraud Unit, the partial salary of the bureau chief of the Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau and the salaries of three full-time investigators assigned to auto theft and insurance fraud.
Brown cited the fraud unit’s successes, which include the conviction of a reputed captain of the Bonnanno organized crime syndicate involved in a stolen car and parts ring in Queens and nearby counties. The unit also ensnared the late John Gotti’s son-in-law, Carmine Agnello, who was found guilty of racketeering for running an illegal scrap metal operation out of Willets Point.
“The prosecution dealt a powerful blow to organized crime’s infiltration of the scrap metal industry in Queens County,” the DA’s office said.