FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM NOVEMBER 2, 2017 • THE QUEENS COURIER 3
Little Neck bank
Police cuff ed an alleged Little Neck bank robber
last week aft er an eagle-eyed cop in Bayside
saw him in the neighborhood.
Law enforcement sources said Michael
Lorenzo, 26, of 71st Avenue in Kew Gardens
Hills was traveling in the area of Bell Boulevard
and 46th Avenue at 4:25 p.m. on Oct. 25.
Detective James O’Connell of the 111th
Precinct happened to be at the location at
that time, according to the Queens District
Attorney’s offi ce, and recognized Lorenzo’s
image from a wanted poster that the precinct
disseminated following the Oct. 12 robbery of
the Queens County Savings Bank at 254-09
Horace Harding Expwy. in Little Neck.
Aft er spotting Lorenzo on Oct. 25, Detective
O’Connell stopped and questioned him. During
a subsequent search, he allegedly found in
Lorenzo’s possession several stolen checks, stolen
identifi cation, a substance believed to be
heroin, a number of hypodermic needles and a
Rolex watch. Detectives later tied Lorenzo to the
Oct. 12 bank robbery aft er further questioning.
Queens connection to
Several Queens residents in the construction
industry, including an inspector with the city’s
Department of Buildings (DOB), were charged
last week in a 14-person scheme to commit
inspection fraud and illegal plumbing work.
Th ough most of the defendants charged
were from Brooklyn, fi ve defendants reside in
Queens. According to the criminal complaints,
Hiram Beza, 55, of Queens used his position as
a DOB inspector to collect cash payoff s.
Beza issued positive construction inspections
to several property owners and managers
in exchange for cash. He also received free
home renovations, including the construction
of a new kitchen in his home. Beza has been
employed by the DOB since April 2005 and has
an annual salary of $68,672.
Several Queens property managers and developers
were also charged for giving him bribes
including Ruben Badalov, 36, Yakhiel Firgiyev,
31, and Matan Hacohen, 37, of Bellerose.
MetroCards will go the
way of the token
Th e MTA board voted last week to approve
a contract with a company that will transform
the way straphangers pay for MetroCards and
Cubic Transportation Systems, which has also
designed and built a similar system in London,
will head the transition away from MetroCards,
which were fi rst introduced in 1994.
Th e change will be rolled out within phases
and the MetroCard will still be available for use
until 2023. Starting in 2019, a total of 500 subway
turnstiles and 600 buses will have the new
payment system installed.
Straphangers will use a mobile wallet like
Apple Pay or tap a bank card at turnstiles
or on buses. As part of the design, Cubic
Transportation Systems will also test payment
options for all-door boarding on SBS buses to
Photo via NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
Queens resident makes fi nal push to
save RKO Keith’s from demolition
BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
firstname.lastname@example.org / @smont76
One Queens resident has started a
call to save a beloved Flushing theater
from demolition — and more than
1,000 residents have joined him.
Richard Th ornhill, who grew up in
Bayside and now lives in Forest Hills,
is making the fi nal push to protect the
RKO Keith’s Th eater from becoming
a condo building with an online
petition. First posted in late October,
the appeal is quickly approaching its
1,500 signature goal.
“Th is is kind of the last chance
to save it,” Th ornhill said. “Building
something like that from scratch —
we don’t make things like that anymore.
And it’s very important to people
in the community.”
The movie palace at 135-29
Northern Blvd. opened in 1928 and
was granted partial interior landmark
status on its ornate grand lobby and
ticket foyer spaces shortly before closing
in 1986. Vacant ever since, the site
has passed between several developers
who have tried unsuccessfully to bring
their envisioned projects to fruition.
In May, the city’s Landmarks
Preservation Commission (LPC) gave
the green light to developer Xinyuan
Real Estate, who will build a glassy,
16-fl oor condominium building at the
site. Th e existing landmarked ticket
lobby and grand foyer will be restored
off -site and reinstalled, serving as the
entryway for the residential building.
Th ornhill’s mother, who grew up
in Whitestone, would oft en tell stories
about her experiences in the arts
“It was a place that she would go to
a lot,” he said. “As a kid, you listen to
these things, and your imagination
just goes wild … It’s a place I wanted
to be able to take my 2-year-old
While the community has other
theaters, like the Queens Th eatre and
Flushing Town Hall, RKO Keith’s
seating capacity far exceeds the others,
Th ornhill noted.
Th e Forest Hills resident is hopeful
that the petition will make a difference.
“I hope it shows the real estate company
that’s planning on making it into
condos that there are people who love
this theater,” he said. “People not only
love their history, but they need the
cultural aspect of it, too.”
A number of signers have left sentimental
notes in the comment section
of the petition.
“Flushing was my hometown
in New York for many years and
I return regularly to visit friends
and family,” wrote John Mark. “Th e
vibrancy of Flushing has only continued
and the RKO Keith should continue
to thrive with the community.
It would be a great disservice otherwise!”
Th e petition is slated to be sent to
Xinyuan Real Estate, NYC Landmarks,
Mayor Bill de Blasio and other local
electeds and can be viewed by visiting
Landmarked interior of the theater.