Police Blotter, Week of Jan. 8, 2015 | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Police Blotter, Week of Jan. 8, 2015

Arsonist sentenced
On Mon., Jan. 5, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr., announced the sentencing of Wei Chu Hu, 47, to 20 years to life in state prison for setting a fatal fire in his Spring St. apartment building in January 2013.

Hu pleaded guilty on Nov. 21 in New York Supreme Court to one count of murder in the second degree and one count of arson in the first degree.

“Wei Chu Hu turned a personal dispute into a senseless murder when he purposely set fire to the five-story apartment building he shared with his wife and son,” Vance said. “The deadly blaze took the life of one of the building’s residents as she attempted to escape, and destroyed the building, rendering it uninhabitable for dozens of residents for nearly two years. This defendant will now serve a lengthy prison sentence for his devastating actions.”

  According to Hu’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, at around 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 10, 2013, following an argument with his wife, Hu started a fire in the couple’s Spring St. apartment. As a result of the fire, the body of Renee Lea Willems, 66, the defendant’s upstairs neighbor, was later found on the building’s fire escape.

A screen grab from a surveillance video provided by police, showing the alleged attempted-rape suspect inside the E. Sixth St. building on Dec. 28.

A screen grab from a surveillance video provided by police, showing the alleged attempted-rape suspect inside the E. Sixth St. building on Dec. 28.

Serial sex attacker
On Wed., Dec. 31, police announced that the suspect wanted in connection with a Dec. 28 E. Sixth St. attempted rape is now being linked to another incident in the Ninth Precinct, forming a pattern.

According to police, on Tues., Dec. 16, at around 12:45 a.m., a 19-year-old woman was walking into an elevator in the lobby of a building on F.D.R. Drive when the suspect entered behind her and grabbed her buttocks and breasts and attempted to forcibly kiss her. A struggle ensued and the victim fled the elevator and the building, with the suspect grabbing her buttocks again before fleeing the location.

In the more recent incident, on Dec. 28 around 6:06 a.m., the same suspect, according to police, followed a 22-year-old woman into an apartment building on E. Sixth St. and sexually assaulted her in the stairwell. The victim sustained minor injuries and was transported to Beth Israel Hospital in stable condition, according to police.

The perpetrator is described as dark-skinned, around age 25, weighing about 180 pounds, with short-cut hair, wearing a dark baseball cap, black bubble jacket, blue jeans and black sneakers. Police said the man was wearing a Yankees hat in the F.D.R. incident.

Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to call the Crime Stoppers hotline, at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  People can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES), then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.

Failed comeback
Three days after being evicted, a tenant returned to his former residence at 99 Perry St., but there would be no friendly homecoming.

The superintendent alerted police to the situation at about noon on Fri., Dec. 26. Upon arriving, police saw that the former tenant still had keys and was in the building. No damage to the building was reported in connection to the incident.

Police charged a 47-year-old man, alternatively named in a police report as Munir and Memir Hussein, with misdemeanor criminal trespass.

Turn for the better
An allegedly drunk driver took a turn for everyone’s better in the early hours of Sat., Jan. 3, when cops pulled him off the road for violating a no-left-turn sign.

At about 3 a.m., a 2004 Acura with Pennsylvania plates was heading south on Washington St. when police observed the driver turn left onto Horatio St., in violation of the sign.

Police eventually pulled the vehicle over in front of 349 W. Fourth St. The driver reeked of booze, blowing a .159 blood-alcohol concentration during a field sobriety test, police said. Derek Pediford, 26, was charged with misdemeanor driving while under the influence.

‘Smith’ doesn’t cut it
Police said they caught a turnstile jumper in the Village with fake ID and a really big knife at about 9 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.

After witnessing Mark Carter, 35, enter the PATH station at W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave. without paying his fare, police detained him. At first, Carter gave his last name as Smith. But the officers soon found two active warrants on Carter, as well as a 14-inch kitchen knife on his person. He now faces a misdemeanor criminal weapon-possession charge.

Cleaned her out
After five weeks, police caught up with a man accused of stealing $1,300 from a woman who reportedly hired him to clean her apartment.

In late November, Dennis Gonzalez, 54, was set to receive $80 for tidying up the apartment at 63 Perry St. But after the place’s owner retired for a nap on Sat., Nov. 29, Gonzalez took off. The woman discovered that the money was missing the next day. Gonzalez meanwhile did not answer her phone calls.

Police got hold of him on Jan. 6, charging him with felony grand larceny. The money has yet to be recovered.

PATH to arrest
Passengers on the PATH train contacted police regarding an overly vocal man onboard at about 7:40 a.m. on Tues., Dec. 23. After police arrived at the Christopher St. station, they saw the man shouting curses at passengers and querying just what they thought they were looking at, as well as threatening to “shoot everyone in the train,” according to several witnesses listed on a police report. David Richardson, 39, then hampered police efforts to arrest him.

He faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

Hack attacked
About 10 p.m. on Tues., Dec. 23, a taxi driver was trying to drop off a male passenger, 36, at the curb in front of 403 W. 13th St. when the fare grabbed a bag of the driver’s documents from the front seat and tried to take off.

According to police, after the driver confronted him, the man punched the hack in the head. The driver refused medical attention at the scene. Reginald Wilson was charged with robbery, a felony.

Cucina catch
Stating that he works there did not get a prospective burglar off the hook at Gaetana’s Cucina Italiana on Mon., Dec. 22. Police said that at about 7:25 a.m. that day they caught Anthony Vazquez, 46, red-handed after he entered the restaurant, at 143 Christopher St. A search of his person upon arrest revealed “burglar tools” in his right rear pants pocket, according to a police report. He was charged with felony burglary.

—  by Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson