Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told a news conference with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly Friday that 13 people, mostly northeast Queens residents, had been apprehended in a major drug bust in the middle-class neighborhood.
An additional three suspects were arrested Tuesday. Among those charged in the bust were two Whitestone residents.
Undercover officers bought cocaine, marijuana, Ecstasy, Vicodin and Xanax 30 times between May 22, 2003 and Dec. 11, 2003, the DA's office said in what Brown called a "veritable flea market for the sale of drugs."
The alleged sales took place on street corners, in front of the Anchor Motor Inn on Northern Boulevard and in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center parking lot, Brown said at police headquarters in Manhattan.
The DA said cocaine sold for $1,000 an ounce, marijuana went for $50 per eighth of an ounce and Ecstasy tablets were sold for $5 to $7 each, the DA said.
The painkiller Vicodin was sold for $5 a tablet and the anti-depressant Xanax went for $3 a pill, he said.
Community complaints of drug sales led police to conduct the 10-month investigation in Bayside, said Kelly, noting that cops "owe a debt of gratitude to the people of Bayside."
"This is a middle-class neighborhood," Kelly said. "They didn't want to see drugs entrenched in that area."
One of the defendants, Balinder Case, 26, of Springfield Gardens, allegedly stole pills from the PSCH group home at 26-14 Bell Blvd. where she worked as an aide and sold them to an undercover officer at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center parking lot and in front of Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills.
PSCH spokeswoman Claire Mahon said Case had been suspended from her job and had not worked at the house since last Thursday. Nine developmentally disabled adults live at the home, where Case had worked since last April, Mahon said.
Officials at Cord Meyer Development Co., which owns the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, said the company was "appalled" by the charges.
"I would be amazed if it was true," said Pete Galletta, assistant vice president of operations and construction for Cord Meyer. "I'd like to see some proof."
Citing the shopping center's 24-hour security, which includes closed circuit TV and peace officers on patrol, Galletta said "we have an extremely safe and secure environment."
Martin Lipshitz, 54, of Flushing was accused of selling 20 Vicodin pills for $60 on Sept. 2 in front of the Anchor Motor Inn on Northern Boulevard, which a law enforcement source said he managed at the time of the alleged sale.
Peter Ikonomou, 19, of Rego Park allegedly sold cocaine, Ecstasy and Xanax on street corners including Bell Boulevard and 38th Avenue, 171st Street and 35th Avenue and 243rd Street and Hillside Avenue, a news release issued by the DA said.
Also arrested were Steven Leou, 35, Joshua Salzberg, 21, and Eileen and Demitrios Theophanos, 53, all of Bayside; Michael Zuvic, 21, and Vincent Giglia, 20, of Whitestone; Julie Davidovich, 19, and Edward Diee, 23, of Flushing; Lulzim Suljovic, 20, of Fresh Meadows; Evan Goldstein, 22, of Floral Park; Erica Asselta, 20, of Rego Park; John Garabeden; and Seneca Solar, 27, of Manhattan.
Solar was arrested the night of Feb. 4 outside the McDonald's at 42nd Avenue and Bell Boulevard, the DA said. Police recovered a .38-caliber handgun and half a kilogram of cocaine upon his arrest.
Goldstein's attorney, Bob Zuflacht, said his client had "never been in trouble before."
"We plan to look into each and every allegation," Zuflacht said. "In view of his exemplary record it makes no sense."
Davidovich's attorney, Oliver Storch, said "she is shocked by the allegations and will address all the charges in the appropriate forum in court."
Attorneys for the other plaintiffs could not be reached or had no comment.
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2004 Community News Group
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