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Operation City Sweeper Exposes Underbelly of New Rochelle Crime

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Operation City Sweeper Exposes Underbelly of New Rochelle Crime

December 18, 2014 - 18:55
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CitySweeperII SayeghScottLandrine

NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- It is just a hypothesis but after reporting on crime in New Rochelle over the past six years, Talk of the Sound has come to believe in a theory that about 40 people account for 90% of the serious/violent crime in New Rochelle - most, if not all of whom, are known to New Rochelle police and, often, to each other. These people operate out of about a dozen locations, many of which are properties owned by the New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, December 3rd, New Rochelle police officers, assisted by officers from the White Plains Police Department, Westchester County Police, and the Westchester District Attorney's Office, and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration arrested dozens of suspected drug dealers in New Rochelle. Drugs purchased during the sting operations included primarily crack cocaine and heroin but also marijuana, hydrocodone, PCP, morphine and fentanyl.

Among those arrested in New Rochelle during this operation were Joseph Sayegh of 139 Emerson Avenue, Crystal Scott of 384 North Avenue, Eric Landrine of 75 Brook Street, and George Pulliam of 19 Washington Avenue. Sayegh and Scott were charge with possession and sale of marijuana. Landrine and Pulliam were charged with multiple counts of criminal possession and criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Operation "City Sweeper 2", a seven month long operation conducted by the New Rochelle Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit, provides a glimpse into the unseemly underbelly of crime in New Rochelle.

Close to 20% of the arrests in Operation City Sweeper II involved people residing at New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority properties including 361 Main Street. Many of those arrested have prior criminal histories or were otherwise on the radar of law enforcement and the municipal government.

North Ave May 2012 1

For many years Sayegh operated a store in New Rochelle at 378 North Avenue called Hoot Super Stop.

While operating at that location, Sayegh was the subject of several city building department complaints including excessive signage (10/13/2009), doing electrical work without a permit (5/1/12) and litter and debris along rear of property (11/7/12).

In 2004 and 2006, Joseph Sayegh was charged by the State Liquor Authority with selling alcohol to a minor, according to William Crowley, spokesperson for the New York State Liquor Authority. Sources tell Talk of the Sound there was one other local arrest for selling to a minor in 2011 but that arrest appears not to have been reported to the State Liquor Authority. New Rochelle police records show three SLA investigations at 378 North Avenue (9/2/2010, 9/14/2010, and 9/13/2011).

In 2011, Sayegh was charged with selling untaxed cigarettes in 2011 and fined $3,500. Sayegh failed to pay the fine and his license to sell cigarettes was cancelled on September 30, 2011. There is currently no active or pending license for 374 North Avenue, according to Crowley. One previous license expired on May 13, 2013.

On January 28, 2011, following an investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture, the federal agency which administers the SNAP program, Sayegh was disqualified permanently from the SNAP Program for trafficking in SNAP benefits, primarily the exchange of benefits for cash or other goods or services.

K Stop

By 2012, Sayegh had closed down Hoot Super Stop and opened K-Stop.

For years Sayegh owned the building a few doors down the street, at 374 North Avenue, a building previously owned by Sayegh's father that passed to him. After a dispute with the operator of what for years was known as "Goffman's Deli", Sayegh took over the retail space in his building at 374 North and named it K-Stop.

IMG 1341

Over the years, 374 North has been the subject of many city building department complaints mostly involving the second floor being operated as an illegal rooming house. The first such complaint was made in December 2009. There were many, many others including: block strewn with litter (1/27/10); apartment being used as illegal rooming house, illegally partitioned walls to create bedrooms, overcrowded, no smoke detectors, mold in bathroom shower, ceiling and walls, peeling chipping paint on walls and ceiling, holes in walls and ceiling, hole behind toilet, water damage on ceiling throughout the whole apartment, no heat (3/2/10); apartment being used as illegal rooming house, open and loose wiring, no smoke detectors (7/26/10); NOTICE OF VIOLATION electrical systems hazards, smoke alarms, $2500 fine for each (8/17/2010); Goffman's abandoned business signage not removed (11/4/2010); work without a permit, materials brought in at night (12/13/2010); possible work without a permit (1/27/2011); electrical wires hanging, upstairs lead paint, mold in bathroom, basement (2/2/2011); UNSAFE BUILDING NOTICE work without a permit (7/19/2011); owner failed to obtain C of O to replace 5 wooden rotten floor joists (8/23/2011); litter and debris along rear of property (11/7/2012); WARNING SUMMONS illegal flashing window sign (3/24/2014); WARNING SUMMONS rubbish and garbage (7/14/2014).

IMG 1343

On June 1, 2011 there was another complaint for illegal construction and operating a rooming house on the second floor. The New Rochelle Police Department, New Rochelle Fire Department and Quality of Life Task Force responded and 5 court appearance tickets were issued for an illegal rooming house, lack of building permit for illegally built partition walls, interior surface disrepair in kitchen, ceiling and wall plaster damage in need of correction, heavy accumulation of little and debris on 2nd floor, rooftop and rear of property; electrical hazards, various fixtures in disrepair, loose and visible wires in need of correction. Sayegh plead guilty and paid a fine.

Between June 1st and June 10th Eric Landrine, a known drug-dealer was beaten and stabbed with a screw driver in front of 374 North Avenue. He refused to cooperate with police.

On June 10, 2011, Marlon Scott shot Eric Landrine in the lobby of 361 Main Street while children played nearby. Marlon Scott is the brother of Crystal Scott who lives at 374 North Avenue. Landrine is a known drug dealer. One resident at 361 Main Street called him a "public menace".

Shortly before midnight last night, New Rochelle police responded to a report of shots fired at 361 Main Street. Eric Landrine, a New Rochelle man, well-known to New Rochelle police, was found at the scene with a bullet wound in his leg. A review of video surveillance footage showed Landrine and another man Marlon Scott circling each other screaming at each other while holding handguns. The second man shot Landrine in the leg prompting him to fire indiscriminately. Wounded, Landrine then ran out of the building and handed the weapon to a female who took the handgun and hid it. All of this was captured on the video surveillance which led to Landrine's arrest. Marlon Scott fled the scene and is currently at large. The woman, identity unknown at this time, was arrested on charges related to hindering prosecution.

Landrine has had many prior encounters with the New Rochelle police. In March 2010, Landrine was caught by New Rochelle police selling drugs in front of a convenience store at Horton Avenue and Brook Street. As police went to arrest Landrine a melee broke out. Four arrests were made. Shortly after the melee was dispersed, an angry mob stormed New Rochelle police headquarters claiming officers had their knees against Eric Landrine's chest and used night sticks to beat him while trying to make an arrest. Landrine was charged with two felony assault charges and drug charges.

After shooting Eric Landrine, Marlon Scott went into hiding. New Rochelle police obtained a warrant for his arrest and put out a BOLO for Scott, describing him as "armed and dangerous".

On June 15, 2011, New Rochelle police received a tip from a Confidential Informant that Marlon Scott was hiding in his sister's apartment on the second floor of 374 North Avenue. Police gained entry to the apartment, searched the premises but did not find Marlon Scott.

On August 12, 2011, Crystal Scott, with the encouragement of Sayegh, served a notice of claim on the City of New Rochelle setting forth various charges against the City including, among others, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unlawful imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and negligent and excessive use of force based on the police searching for Marlon Scott at her apartment on June 15th, 2011. Crystal Scott claimed that she was naked in her apartment when she was suddenly confronted by New Rochelle Police officers who seized, detained, handcuffed and verbally abused her. In her complaint, Crystal Scott alleged that Lt. Christopher Hearle remained in the hallway with her, pointed his gun at her head, grabbed her by the neck, and demanded that she provide him with information. Hearle, through the motion to dismiss filed on his behalf has denied the claim. On May 21, 2014, New York Supreme Court Judge Francesca E. Connolly, largely upheld a motion to dismiss Scott's complaint made on behalf of the City of New Rochelle and New Rochelle police officers except for causes of action involving Det. Michael O'Rourke and Lt. Christopher Hearle.

On August 21, 2011, Marlon Scott was arrested in Pelham Manor on charges of drug and weapon possession. Scott was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and false personation and second-degree criminal impersonation. Scott was also arrested on a felony assault warrant for the shooting incident involving Eric Landrine.

Scott was apprehended after residents reported two men looking in driveways on Wolfs Lane. Scott was found with a stun gun clipped to his belt, a folding knife in his pocket and crack cocaine in his pocket. When asked for ID, Scott presented a New York State driver's license with the name Jrell Amos Scott of 99 Union Avenue in New Rochelle. Scott was later positively identified based on physical markings, including tattoos.

On December 2, 2011, New Rochelle police officers, assisted by officers from the White Plains Police Department, Westchester County Police, and the Westchester District Attorney's Office, and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration arrested dozens of suspected drug dealers in New Rochelle in Operation City Sweeper I. Drugs purchased during sting operations included primarily crack cocaine and heroin but also marijuana, hydrocodone, PCP, morphine and fentanyl.

Among those arrested and charged with multiple counts of criminal possession and criminal sale of a controlled substance was Kerry Durity and Anthony Bell, both of 374 North Avenue.

Talk of the Sound has, for many years, received complaints about Joseph Sayegh most of which have since been confirmed through various government agencies.

SayeghCigarettes

One allegation has been that Sayegh sold out-of-state cigarette packs. Talk of the sound observed as cigarettes were purchased from Sayegh's store. The pack purchased had a "Virginia" stamp (pictured above). In 2011, the ATF raided Hoot Super Stop and found illegal out-of-state cigarette packs under the counter. He was charged with selling untaxed cigarettes and fined $3,500, a fine which he refused to pay.

Another allegation is that Sayegh sold individual cigarettes or "loosies" which Talk of the Sound confirmed with multiple sources.

In 2013, Talk of the Sound received a tip claiming Sayegh "now has his girlfriend Crystal [Scott] selling marijuana out of his store". On December 3rd, 2014 Crystal Scott and Joseph Sayegh were arrested by New Rochelle Police on 2 counts of Criminal Sale Marijuana and 2 counts of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana.

While we were investigating him, Sayegh contacted Talk of the Sound to take up the cause of Crystal Scott and her claim that New Rochelle Police had broken into her apartment for "no good reason, while she was naked". Talk of the Sound declined to do so. One source with a high-ranking position in City Hall told Talk of the Sound that police visited Crystal Scott's apartment several times looking for her brother and that on one occasion, Marlon Scott was in the apartment but managed to escape out a window.

Despite being permanently disqualified from the SNAP program, Sayegh is alleged by sources to have continued to be engaged in SNAP trafficking even without a USDA SNAP terminal of his own. Sources say he conspires with other store operators in the area who are licensed with the SNAP program and have the necessary equipment to process SNAP transactions. According to sources, a K-1 Stop customer who wishes to convert benefits to cash need merely presents the card to Sayegh who then makes a phone call, provided the SNAP Benefit Card details to his accomplice, confirms the funds have been obtained and then pays the person cash (at a discount for the service provided). This information has been provided to the USDA Officer of the Inspector General.

The primary purpose of SNAP trafficking is alleged to be so that people can buy cigarettes (illegal/untaxed), alcohol (sold without a license), marijuana (which police alleged was sold out of Sayegh's store) or other products prohibited under the SNAP program or to get cash, often to buy controlled substances sold by people known to Sayegh including George Pulliam, arrested in Operation City Sweeper II on 4 counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance 3rd and 4 counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th or other known drug dealers such as Eric Landrine or Marlon Scott, sources say.

Multiple sources have alleged that Sayegh sells stolen cell phones, items stolen from Hope Community Kitchen and items stolen from local retail stores. In one case, Sayegh allegedly provided a "shopping list" of what he wanted stolen from the CVS store at 625 North Avenue, near Iona College. Talk of the Sound has obtained related police records but has yet to confirm this last claim.

Joseph Sayegh is a member of a large and well-known Yonkers family which includes Tony Sayegh, a Republican political consultant and Fox News Contributor, and Sandy Annabi, a former member of the Yonkers City Council who was convicted of taking bribes in relation to the Forest City development at Ridge Hill.

Attempts to reach Sayegh for comment were unsuccessful.