RID leader beats gun rap
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Jessica Berk, the leader of Residents in Distress, is feeling relieved after beating a gun charge.
On March 31, during a court-ordered cleanup of the Christopher St. apartment she shares with her elderly mother, an unloaded .22-caliber pistol was found in the place.
Berk — who founded the controversial anticrime group RID more than a decade ago — denied knowing the gun had been there, and said she didn’t know who it belonged to.
Nevertheless, she was charged with misdemeanor criminal weapon possession in the fourth degree.
A police escort had been requested for the cleanup, and so officers were there when the gun was found. Berk said her family has been in litigation with building management for 27 years.
The gun reportedly fell from a file cabinet, either from on top of one or from a drawer.
After the firearm’s discovery, Berk said she was taken to the Sixth Precinct, where she was held for 11 hours, much of that time with both a hand as well as an ankle cuffed to a bench.
Two weeks ago in court, though, the weapon charge against the lifelong Villager, 55, was dropped.
“The case was dismissed because it could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Joan Vollero, a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney.
According to a source, there was never any evidence of anyone owning the gun, and given the apartment’s extremely cluttered state, it simply couldn’t be proven whose it was.
However, Berk rejected that justification for the case’s dismissal, retorting to The Villager, “The apartment wasn’t cluttered on the day the gun was found.”
In April, Berk told The Villager she thought the pistol perhaps could have been planted by someone — multiple cleanup workers had been going in and out of the apartment at the time — or might have belonged to her late father, Leo Berk, who ran the Waverly Lounge from 1950 to 1970 and “dealt with a lot of gangsters.”
Berk also wondered why police only arrested her and not her 90-year-old mother, who shares the apartment, though was staying at a facility at the time.
Berk, who has sued the Sixth Precinct before for false arrest, is now preparing to sue again.
“I’m suing the N.Y.P.D. and for damages for being shackled for 12 hours,” she said. “Of course, there are going to be supervisors who were involved who are liable in this. … This arrest was a deliberate attempt to harass me.”
The Sixth Precinct declined comment.