Sex Offenders Slither In
For those who think Rockaway is a dumping ground, they’ve got more reason to believe so as new trash arrived at the old Rockaway Park Hotel. As Rockaway’s main commercial strip makes a valiant comeback and many stores show off new facades, the positive vibe was tempered when news came that two sex offenders had moved into the building at 156 Beach 116th Street.
A Sex Offender Registry Alert was sent out notifying the public that the offenders were taking up residence in the long-troubled spot owned by Jay Deutchman of Scarsdale. Elhassen Soumare, a Level 2 sex offender, was convicted of attempted rape of a 5-yearold girl in 2010. Leon Kelly, a Level 3, was listed on the sex offender registry by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in 1996 for incidents involving 11 and 12- year-old males. Both are now living in a building in one of Rockaway’s busiest commercial areas.
Over the summer, 100th Precinct Community Council President Danny Ruscillo learned that there were plans for members of the alcohol and substance abuse treatment program Narco Freedom to move back in to the building that was damaged after Sandy. After countless hours of discussion, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder was able to get Narco Freedom to back down on the idea. According to Ruscillo, Deutchman said at a meeting that he wanted to put something in the building that would benefit the community as long as it paid his mortgage.
While Rockaway was spared the possible trouble of recovering drug addicts and alcoholics returning, two sex offenders seem to have snuck in as Beach 116th Street tries to come back after Sandy and repair its reputation.
Even building owner Deutchman claims he had no idea about the dirty dwellers in his building, according to the New York Daily News.“It doesn’t necessarily please me, but I don’t have children (living) in the building,” Deutchman told the News. “It’s just an SRO and we are only renting to working people.” He also noted that he recently renovated the front of the building and has only been allowing short-term leases as he hopes to overhaul the site. “We’ve been in talks with politicians and we’re open to be a part of any development that goes on over there,” he added.
Upon hearing the news, Goldfeder took action once again. He introduced legislation that will expand current laws and will restrict convicted sex offenders from residing within 500 feet or less from any public park with a playground to ensure that areas where children play are off-limits to sex offenders. Current laws only restrict sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools and parks that are only attached to school buildings, but there are no restrictions for other parks. Goldfeder’s office said the boardwalk and beach run by Parks should qualify.
Some locals took to Facebook to express concern over the news and pointed out that the predators could be a threat for the commercial block. Children participate in exercise classes at Suncycle Studios and dance classes as Elaine’s School of Dance across the street. The building is also too close for comfort to the public beach which is crowded with visitors during the summer months and Peninsula Library is just a block away. There are also schools within the vicinity including Martin De Porres High School on Beach 112th Street and P.S. 225 on Beach 110th Street.
“As a parent of two young children, I understand how critical it is that we create stronger laws to keep sexual predators out of areas where our children congregate and play,” Goldfeder said. “I drafted this new legislation to ensure that sex offenders stay out of our public parks and away from our children.” “On behalf of Rockaway parents, I applaud Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder for his quick action and response to our genuine concerns about the safety and wellbeing of our children,” Irene Dougherty, PTA co-president of The Belle Harbor School, PS 114 said in a press release.
While the news of the new sex offenders moving in is alarming, it isn’t new or unique to Deutchman’s property. Soumare and Kelly join a list of registered sex offenders living within the 11693 and 11694 zip codes. According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services website Gerald Algozer, Todd Brady, Jose Garcia, Tyrone Hipps and David Rodriguez all live on the beach block of Beach 115th Street. Leslie Francis lives on Beach 109th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Ronald Close lives on Beach 92nd Street. Steven Murphy lives on Beach 95th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Charles Carlson lives on Beach 91st Street. There are 15 sex offenders living in the 11692 zip code. There are more than 60 living in the 11691 zip code. For more specific information on sex offenders living within the area, visit criminaljustice. ny.gov/SomsSUBDirectory/search_ i ndex.jsp to perform a search.