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Queens Chronicle

Queens DA touts high conviction rate

Drug and weapons busts among others

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Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:23 am, Thu Jan 17, 2013.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown had a lot to be proud about last year, and the 22-year-veteran cited some of his office’s major 2012 accomplishments during his year-end address, which he delivered on Jan. 2 at his Kew Gardens office.

Those accomplishments include handling more than 70,000 arrest cases, having no appellate backlog, being recognized as a nationwide leader in the number of court-authorized wiretaps, having the lowest case dismissal rate in the city and taking more pre-indictment pleas than the rest of the city’s DAs combined.

“We, as prosecutors, have contributed greatly to New York City’s historic decline in serious crime through our law enforcement initiatives and the utilization of cutting-edge intervention and prevention programs — which, in turn, have created safer neighborhoods for our residents,” Brown said in a prepared statement.

Brown also noted that the New York Law Journal’s recent review of city’s prosecutors’ offices found Queens County to have the highest felony conviction rate and the lowest felony dismissal rate.

“These numbers should come as no surprise as we are citywide leaders in many categories, including consistently maintaining the best arrest-to-arraignment time in the city and the highest percentage of cases arraigned within 24 hours,” Brown said.

The DA’s office has had numerous successful prosecutions in 2012. Among those he cited were the People v. David Hartshorn and the People v. Gregory Calas and Nnonso Ekwegbalu.

Hartshorn pleaded guilty in August to first- and second-degree criminal sexual act and use of a child in a sexual performance. Once been named “Rochdale Village Coach of the Year,” he was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Calas and Ekwegbalu, both members of the Crips street gang, were convicted in November of first-degree manslaughter and other charges for the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Kevin Miller and the assault of a 17-year-old in Cambria Heights on Oct. 2, 2009. Each defendant faces up to 50 years in prison when sentenced on Jan. 9, 2013.

In addition, the DA’s Investigations Division conducted several significant long-term investigations over the past year into criminal enterprises. They included dismantling violent gun and drug gangs and rescuing young women from underage prostitution and sex trafficking rings, as well as prosecuting white-collar crimes such as identity theft, credit card fraud, mortgage fraud, auto theft and insurance fraud and illegal gambling.

Among the major investigations during 2012 noted by Brown were: “Operation Heroin Highway,” in which 105 city and Long Island residents were arrested on drug charges as part of an undercover probe of a drug ring; “Operation Pac Man,” in which five individuals were charged in connection with illegal firearms trafficking in Southeast Queens; and “Operation Last Call,” in which 18 airport workers were charged in connection with the widespread theft of tens of thousands of unsold mini-bottles of liquor and other items from John F. Kennedy International Airport.

In August, the DA’s office held a successful gun buyback program in which 509 weapons were collected over a six-hour period. Among those recovered were an AK-47, a Tec-9, a Calico 9mm with a 50- round magazine, 245 revolvers, 168 semi-automatic pistols and five sawed-off shotguns.

“The reason why I have so much enjoyed my tenure as District Attorney over these many years, why it is that I’ve found those years to be so rewarding, and why I look forward to continuing to serve as the District Attorney of this county for many years to come, is the successes that we have enjoyed in lowering the level of violence in our county,” Brown said, “and improving the quality of life of our residents and because of the dedication and professionalism of those with whom we work.”

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