(SEE VIDEO): Brutal Middle Village robbery shakes up community

66-year-old man beaten, robbed of $17K

By Jessica Meditz


Residents of Middle Village were appalled to see the shocking footage released by the 104th Precinct of a 66-year-old man being brutally beaten and robbed in broad daylight.

Last Thursday, Oct. 13 at around 1:20 p.m., the victim was walking on 71st Street toward Juniper Valley Road, when an unidentified male individual approached him from behind, shoved him to the pavement, started punching and kicking him throughout his body and dragged him across the sidewalk.

The perpetrator went on to swipe the victim’s bag that he carried, robbing him of $17,000 in cash.

Leaving him to lie on the ground, the thief then fled on foot and got inside a maroon Ford Fusion operated by a second unidentified male individual.

The car was last seen heading toward Eliot Avenue. Emergency Medical Services treated the victim on scene for minor injuries.

Before the robbery took place, the suspects were seen inside Artis Drug and Surgical Supplies located at 80-02 Eliot Avenue.

No arrests have been made, and the NYPD is still on the hunt for the robbers.

The first individual is described as having a medium complexion, medium build with short dark hair, last seen wearing a dark colored hooded jacket, multi-colored Tommy Hilfiger sweatpants, white sneakers, a blue and white North Face baseball cap and glasses.

The second individual is described as having a medium complexion, medium build, last seen wearing a dark-colored jacket, dark-colored sweatpants, gray sneakers and a blue Houston Astros baseball cap.

The 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol – G-COP shared a post on their Facebook page to spread the word about the incident.

They noted the unconventional nature of the victim carrying $17,000 in cash on his person.

“I say Investigate the Person who was attacked…He knows something,” the comment read. “You are Not going to walk around in the Park with 17K in your Possession.”

Other residents, like 40-plus-year Middle Village local, Anthony Reardon, agent at Eliot Hill Realty, are losing faith in the community they once felt safe in.

“I feel the 104 Precinct does a terrific job; they have to cover a lot of territory. It’s a large area, so I have no knocks against the 104,” he said.

“Whoever did this had to have been watching him from when he was at the bank. They had to know he was carrying a large sum of money,” he continued. “I feel that we need to look out for each other as a community in these situations. If you see something, say something.”

Elmhurst resident to run in his 24th NYC Marathon

By Jessica Meditz


Raymond Choy sporting his 25-year-old Nike windbreaker, adorned with patches from each NYC Marathon he’s participated in.

For Raymond Choy, nothing quite beats the tranquil feeling of being in “the zone” while running.

For the 24th time in his life, the 71-year-old Elmhurst resident will soon be one of the 50,000 runners in the 2022 TCS New York City Marathon — but it was no easy feat.

Born and raised in Lower Manhattan near Chinatown, Choy always had an interest in sports and athleticism, but did not truly see himself as a runner.

“We played basketball and touch football in the streets because everybody played, but I was never really good at anything,” Choy said. “I was never one of the fast runners.”

He grew up admiring runners who competed in famous marathons, such as the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon, and quickly added it to his bucket list.

Back in 1993, Choy was a union carpenter working at a construction site in Downtown Manhattan.

His life changed when he and the crew were unloading materials off a truck when the materials tilted, knocking him off the truck and landing on his leg — leaving him permanently partially disabled.

“The funny thing was I was the foreman of the safety and protection crews for the job site, and I got hurt. It’s a difficult injury to come back from,” he said.

“I was in the hospital for 57 days, and from my hospital window, I could watch the building site go up. It was very depressing, watching the job go up without me.”

Choy spent the next two years learning how to walk again. In fact, he later found out that doctors were once concerned he could possibly lose his leg.

Although traumatic, the experience as a whole made Choy realize how important his health truly is, motivating him to live a healthier lifestyle.

“When I was in the hospital, I learned that I wasn’t as healthy as I thought I should be. So part of the incentive was to not ever be in the hospital again, because I was there a long time,” he said.

“I made a commitment to my family to live healthier, so that’s kind of what motivated me to start running. Now that I started, it’s kept me in shape.”

After the marathon in 1996, Choy saw a news story about Achilles International, an organization that brings the largest field of runners with disabilities to the New York City Marathon.

He said that the team’s founder, Dick Traum, who became the first amputee to complete the marathon, has been very motivating and inspiring as he goes through his running journey.

He’s also thankful for his support runners, who run alongside him in the race, encouraging him and ensuring his safety.

“I never would have finished without their support, they just kept me going, telling me, ‘You can do it.’ I can’t thank Team Achilles enough; it’s a part of my life,” he said.

Choy is proud to participate in his 24th consecutive run in the New York City Marathon, and one way he marks the occasion each year is sewing a new patch on his Nike windbreaker he purchased for the first marathon in ‘97.

Choy during the 1997 TCS New York City Marathon.

“Every marathon since then, I’ve been able to find a patch that I sewed onto that jacket. Now, I have this 25-year-old jacket that has a patch from every marathon that I’ve run on it, so that’s really nice,” he said.

“I really like to wear that jacket every October. It’s not a bad habit to pick up.”

Choy trains for about eight months prior to the marathon.

His routine consists of getting off work in Chinatown, jogging up the FDR Drive, then to Grand Central to take the 7 train back to Elmhurst.

On Sundays, he drives to Central Park to run the six-mile Central Park loop.

Choy takes pride in advancing to the 70-74 age group in the marathon, and says that “by hook or by crook,” he will continue to complete it annually until he physically can’t anymore.

“After the first marathon, I did a second, and then a third and a fourth. Once I got a streak going, and I said to myself, ‘This is something that kind of special.’ Not to pat myself on the back, but it’s something that my kids and my grandkids can say that their father or grandfather did this thing, even though he has his disability. It’s something to be proud of,” he said.

“I’m a marathoner, and I like the sound of being a marathoner. Not to be not to be morbid, but sometimes when someone passes away, they say, ‘He was a marathoner,’” Choy said.

“When I’m gone, I’d like to be thought of as a marathoner, rather than ‘just a nice guy’ like everybody else. Marathoner sounds good.”

Classic cars take center stage at Forest Hills Stadium

Rich harmonies with the Quatrain Barbershop Quartet

Lineup of the classics.

By Michael Perlman


This past Sunday afternoon under a lustrous sun, analogous to a spotlight, the setting resembled a “Back To The Future” episode at the West Side Tennis Club.

From recent to longtime Club members, they stepped onto the iconic Forest Hills Stadium stage and everyone felt like a performer. They were ready for the first classic car show in its history.

One by one, each sporty car pulled up and parked on stage, with their headlights facing the members, and the nearly century-old horseshoe-shaped venue became the backdrop.

The friendly staff greeted guests and presented a buffet consisting of scrumptious salads, hors d’oeuvres, pastries and scotch among other favorite drinks.

Then the notable New York-based Quatrain Barbershop Quartet arrived in their fashionable red and white striped attire and straw hats, and began belting out barbershop harmonies with much distinction, proving that the genre is very much alive.

High notes with the Quatrain Barbershop Quartet.

They walked around the stage, took requests and casually chatted with guests.

The quartet consists of lead Steve Marrin of Baldwin, tenor Bob Kelly of Freeport, baritone Jeff Glemboski of Merrick and bass Al Fennell of Yorktown Heights.

A barbershop quartet features a cappella singing, with three voices harmonizing to a fourth vocal’s melody, but then an invisible fifth voice becomes apparent.

Close harmonies and homorhythmic singing are commonalities.

This style’s roots can be traced to African-American traditions of the late 19th century in the South.

The melodies and sound are angelic and sentimental. It further came into its own in 1938.

“It’s an art form that was created in the U.S. With barbershop today, it’s performed worldwide, with groups in New Zealand, Germany and South Africa,” Kelly said.

“I passed the West Side Tennis Club thousands of times on the LIRR, and it’s an honor to stand on the stage of The Beatles,” Marrin said. “Al and Bob signed together in a quartet known as the ‘Sunburst Express’ in 1974. I met them a few years later. We were called ‘Spotlight’ in the 1980s and 1990s. Three of us have been singing together for about 50 years.”

The youngest member is Glemboski, a kindergarten through sixth grade music teacher in Merrick, and Fennell held the same occupation.

Their favorite numbers include “Don’t Blame Me” (1933), “I’m Sitting on Top of the World” (1925) by Al Jolson, “Smile” (1936) by Charlie Chaplin and “The Chordbuster’s March.”

“It was written to introduce to the audience individual members and the parts that they sing,” Kelly said in response to the latter song.

Barbershop music is enjoyable for all age groups.

The youngest classic car fan.

Marrin said, “Sometimes when we sing to children, it’s the first time they heard it. Some who are musically inclined want to hear more. Our No. 1 audience is 50-plus.”

“The Barbershop Harmony Society is getting younger people involved such as in high school and grammar school. We like to get our message out, where this is what we like to do and it’s fun,” Kelly added.

The quartet performed at historical destinations including Carnegie Hall, the Ed Sullivan Theater and Planting Fields Arboretum. They frequently entertain at family parties and can be booked by contacting smarrin1@aol.com.

WSTC Entertainment Committee Co-Chair James Navarrete is a nine-year Club member who has an open ear to member feedback, so he listened to fellow member Richard’s suggestion and said, “What a great idea!”

He explained, “The Stadium was there when these cars were first born. I wanted the cars to be center stage with the backdrop of the legendary stadium, which will key off for the 100th anniversary next year. The fall lends itself to darker drinks, such as scotch, so I felt like having a tasting of the new scotches on the WSTC menu.”

“I like to show off my Club to the members, have them really appreciate it and move the events in various locations throughout each season, as well as cater to all demographics,” Navarrete continued.

He cited an adult-only pool party, a family movie night with a piñata and a magic act, the Queen’s Tea event in the Clubhouse dining room, evening country line dancing with a mechanical bull on the Stadium stage and karaoke in the Rose Garden.

Jeff Becktold, a 13-year WSTC member, is also a WSTC Entertainment Committee member, who hosted the event.

Mr & Mrs Reyes with host Jeff Becktold on right.

He takes pride in keeping WSTC history alive by strategizing at monthly meetings, while also aiming to be inclusive of the larger community.

“With the history of the Stadium, the idea of bringing in classic cars that were traveling to the shows in those times made much sense. The Quatrain Barbershop Quartet adds a nostalgic ambiance,” he said.

Becktold pinpointed much dialogue for using the Stadium for uses beyond concerts.

“We will be celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2023, and it’s always on our mind to bring more attention to our neighborhood. Afterall, this was the first home of the U.S. Open. Watching the U.S. Open this year, our Stadium was mentioned several times, and people talk about how they want to come back to play here. Having players practice here before the U.S. Open would bring more attention to the Stadium. I also think a lot of people are unfamiliar with the neighborhood, so when they attend concerts, they walk around and see ‘a diamond in the rough,’” he said.

WSTC members shared their car stories.

Richard presented a 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, a 1985 Porsche 944 and a 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SL.

Up close with a 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

He pinpointed that this Trans Am was met with extreme success, likely attributed to the popular film, “Smokey and the Bandit.”

“It had a huge 6.6 Liter engine with a 4-speed manual and a Hurst shifter, a true contribution to the ‘muscle car’ era.”

A few years ago, he added the distinctive big bird on the front hood.

As for the Porsche 944, originating in Germany, it was manufactured from 1982 to 1991 and was considered the most successful sports car in the company’s history.

Referencing Richard’s 1987 Mercedes-Benz, he said, “It has classic lines, but is sporty with a soft convertible top, but also a hard top for cold winters. Although only a two-seater, the big V-8 cylinder engine under the hood made it one of the fastest luxury sports cars of the time.”

Richard was always curious to know how things operated, and in his youth, took care of his family car.

He reminisced, “During my first effort to time the engine, I messed up the engine so badly, that I had to tell my dad that the car had to be towed to our family mechanic. Horrified and expecting my dad to be furious, all he did was insist that I accompany our mechanic to the repair shop and find out what I had done wrong. I never looked back, and have done most of the maintenance of my cars for the rest of my life, to the extent that I have a ‘pit’ at my country home, so that I can safely work under my cars.”

He felt the Quatrain Barbershop Quartet was excellent and called the car show a fun experience. “Having a little experience in a men and boys’ choir in my youth, I exclaimed and complimented them when they changed keys or did classic resolutions,” Richard added. “I hope we can have them again soon.”

The notable Quatrain Barbershop Quartet.

“It’s a really nice way to meet people at this different kind of event,” said Ted, a 47-year WSTC member, who presented a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Normale, a 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider and a 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe Launch Edition.

“My passion for cars is from my dad, who’s really into cars. A couple of the cars that I own are similar to the ones that he had when I was a little boy. He had a soft spot for Alfa Romeos. It has quite a following in the U.S. despite the fact that they didn’t sell cars for 20 years from 1995 to 2015,” he said. “The 1961 classic was styled by Pininfarina, designer of many classic Ferraris, and produced from 1955 to 1962 as the Giulietta Spider with the original 1290cc version of the legendary Alfa Romeo twin cam 4-cylinder engine, and from 1952 to 1966 as the Giulia Spider with a larger 1570cc engine version.”

Up close with a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Normale.

The 1991 classic was also styled by Pininfarina and designed for 27 years in four series, where each is distinguished by unique rear styling. Interestingly, the “round tail” Series 1 version starred in the film, “The Graduate.”

“This Series 4 example is powered by a 1962cc version of the legendary Alfa Romeo twin cam 4-cylinder engine. The front-end styling incorporates the barest hint of the classic Alfa center grill and side brows,” Ted said.

In reference to the accompanying harmonies, he continued, “The Quatrain Barbershop Quartet is very talented and having live music is always great.”

A supercharged 2000 Jaguar XKR was presented by John.

“In 2000, I was sick and got cured, so my wife told me to go out and buy a classic car. I was going to buy a Porsche, but my friends told me, ‘Everybody has a Porsche,’ so they said, ‘Get a Jaguar,’ so that’s it. It’s a cool looking car.”

Another presenter, James, showed a 2014 Ford Mustang Race Red and called it “a car curated for the streets of NYC,” with a standard V6 engine.

“Like every little kid, you’re given a toy car to play with and roll around the floor, and growing up, I’ve always been a fan of a Ford Mustang. My dad always rents them when we go on vacation. I always wanted one, and I was lucky enough to come across this beauty.”

He added his own touches.

“The beautiful curves and aggressive tone are paired with a one-of-a-kind custom racing stripe design, which bears homage to the world’s greatest football club, Manchester United. Whether you are a child or an adult, this car puts a smile on your face,” he said.

An ivory 1977 Fiat 124 Spider with a camel interior was another showstopper.

Serenading guests around a 1977 Fiat 124 Spider.

Sometimes cars evoke tradition and one’s spirit, as in the case of Robert who acquired it that year.

After he passed away, it was gifted to his daughter Kate, and today she and her husband Oded recall how he valued “good design and Italian cars.”

Porcelli: The Other Side of Education (10/20)

CTE Shop Class: Now It’s High-Tech

By Mike Porcelli

Last week brought another workforce development event to our city, the annual NYC Employment and Training Coalition Conference.

Attended by hundreds of professionals from dozens of workforce development organizations and government in the metropolitan area, the event highlighted the latest efforts by government and the private sector to produce workers needed by modern industries in the coming decades.

The day was kicked off by Gregory J. Morris, in his first week as the new Coalition CEO. Morris and his staff presented an agenda filled with a wide array of knowledgeable speakers with an understanding of the past failures of school systems to deliver education as needed, and a desire to correct those errors.

Panels of experts and individual speakers addressed all areas of education and career training from every angle.

Everyone agreed that the herding of every high school graduate into college before they’re ready is a disservice to both students and employers, and a large segment of those students are better suited for trade career opportunities. The key is, how to distinguish which students should go where after high school.

I was gratified to see many speakers reiterate that students’ skills assessments are necessary to match students with their best path.

One presenter from SkyHive.ai, a company that seeks to optimize labor skills distribution, spoke about their artificial intelligence platform that generates skills intelligence information to match the supply of labor skills with demand.

Their objective is to provide a future-proof workforce that closes the skills gap. It’s a worthy program that I hope our education system can utilize. 

This year’s conference theme was “Advancing Talent & Equity for a Thriving Economy,” by examining solutions within workforce and economic development. A theme that coincides with the purpose of this column each week – to promote a system that delivers training equitably geared to the talents of each student, thereby allowing them to maximize their personal potential, while meeting industry needs. That’s the essence of workforce development.

Among the many speakers was Mayor Eric Adams, who spoke about bringing trade education back to public schools and equitably matching curriculum to the needs of students.

As the mayor exited the stage, I offered him my help to accomplish those goals, and was greatly encouraged when his staff immediately responded with a request for a meeting. I hope that meeting, and the mayor’s experience as a mechanic, will result in a more rapid restoration of CTE classes for all students who can benefit from them, and the expanded use of tools like ShyHive.ai and March2Success.com to fill those programs with candidates. 

The major consensus of the day revolved around the need to expand CTE programs and career exploration for younger students.

A key takeaway was stated by one of the speakers, to great applause: “K to 12 education = workforce development.”

Schools must deliver programs and career guidance with that in mind. INSIST THAT THEY DO!

Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin. This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-porcelli-master-mechanic-allasecerts/ 


Jeanne Neglia passed away on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 at the age of 76. Beloved Mother of Robin Neglia, Michael (Dawn) Neglia and Marc (Heather) Neglia. Loving Grandmother of Jake, Jeanna, Luca, Jamie, Elisabella and Marco. Jeanne even later on in life, pursued continued education to become a longtime respiratory therapist at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, New York, NY where she helped patients and colleagues over her long tenure there. Jeanne was very proud and dedicated to her career. In Lieu of Flowers, memorial donations may be made to: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Mass of Christian Burial offered at St. Adalbert’s Church on Friday, October 14, 2022 9:45 AM. Interment followed at St. Raymond’s Cemetery, Bronx, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.


Tarquino M. Cabrera passed away on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 at the age of 82. Beloved Husband of Mariana. Loving Father of Manuel, Milton, Luis Nelson, Luis Geraldo, Blanca, Manuel Alcibiado, Maria Ilda, Luis Fernando and Maria Nanci. Cherished Grandfather of 13 grandchildren and Great-Grandfather of 5 great-grandchildren. Mass of Christian Burial offered at St. Mary’s Church on Monday, October 17, 2022 9:30 AM. Interment followed at St. John Cemetery, Middle Village, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.


Rose Petruzzi passed away on Thursday, October 13, 2022 at the age of 97. Beloved Wife of the late Fred Petruzzi. Loving Mother of Susan DeFalco, Alfred (Susan) Petruzzi and the late Joseph Petruzzi. Cherished Grandmother of Roseann Reddington, Michele Reddington, and Alfred & Jennifer DeMarco and Great-Grandmother of Brianna, Lucianna Rose, Craig Vincent and Nicholas Joseph.  Dear Sister of Jeanette Schwartz and the late Nancy Nordstom, Dolores Giannone & Frank Ciuffo. Mass of Christian Burial offered at St. Adalbert’s Church on Monday, October 17, 2022 9:45 AM. Interment followed at St. John Cemetery, Middle Village, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.


Evelyn Becker passed away on Thursday, October 13, 2022 at the age of 91. Beloved Wife of the late Otto Becker. Loving Mother of Lorraine Scherer and Renee Bellefeuille and Mother-in-Law of Daniel and Paul. Cherished Grandmother of John and Rebecca. Private Cremation held on Saturday, October 1, 2022 at Fresh Pond Crematory, Middle Village, NY.  Entombment of Cremains at Lutheran All-Faiths Cemetery, Middle Village, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.

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