Firefighter Eric Kohler, 32, of Engine 295, and seven other Queens men were arrested in an undercover sting last Thursday after investigators raided Flushing and Whitestone garages and confiscated more than $160,000 in cash, 90 motorcycle engines and nine bikes, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.A fire official said Kohler was suspended without pay last Thursday. He was released that same day on $150,000 bail from Queens Supreme Court. His lawyer, Eugene Levy, did not return a call for comment.The 92-count indictment alleges that Kohler and three other ringleaders from College Point and Flushing told the 16-member crew which bikes to steal. They focused on custom and imported motorcycles, including a $25,000 Harley Davidson "Fat boy" taken outside a Flushing lawyer's home, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said."Steal men" operated at night, hijacking the bikes from private homes in western Queens, New Jersey, Connecticut and Virginia and taking them to chop shops at 70-17 Main St. and 43-16 Main St. in Flushing and 7-15 154th St. in Whitestone, the DA said.The bikes were dismantled, parts were scrubbed of serial numbers, photographed and sold online to "dwarf car" enthusiasts in the Midwest, who used the engine blocks for their miniature race cars, Brown said.Parts went for $2,500 to $5,000.The nine-month investigation began in the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood when a man discovered parts of his bike that was recently stolen for sale on Ebay, Brown said.Kohler and three other Queens men were allegedly the brains of the operation, the DA said.The other men are Christos Demetroules, 34, of 35-17 168th St. in Flushing; Michael Kontos, 35, of 12-15 121st St. in College Point; and Robert Fili, 32, of 29-15 170th St. in Flushing.Demetroules and Kontos allegedly were the driving force behind the thefts, Brown said, fencing them to Fili and Kohler. All four are charged with selling parts over the Internet.The other Queens defendants are Allessandro Delgiornio, 30, of 41-27, 171st St. in Flushing; Josue Caratini, 29, of 48-32 37th St. in Long Island City; Freddy Feliciano, 33, of 54-16 73rd Place in Maspeth; and Paris Gonzalez, 34, of 20-58 Gates Ave. in Ridgewood, Brown said.Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2005 Community News Group
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