16 THE QUEENS COURIER • MAY 10, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
gets 4 years
BY ROBERT POZARYCKI
firstname.lastname@example.org / @robbpoz
An Astoria man is spending
the next four years in prison for
selling heroin laced with fentanyl
that almost killed at least
two users who overdosed on the
Bernard Lewis, 46, pleaded
guilty in April to third-degree
criminal sale of a controlled
substance, according to Queens
District Attorney Richard A.
Brown. On May 2, Queens
Supreme Court Justice Suzanne
Melendez ordered Lewis to serve
four years in prison and three
years’ post-release supervision.
“Th e investigation into this case
commenced with the near-fatal
overdoses of two individuals
who bought from Lewis,”
Brown said in a May 3 statement.
“In a recorded phone conversation,
the defendant was told he
was selling drugs that contained
fentanyl, and that the drugs were
Fentanyl — a prescription
anesthetic that’s up to 50 times
more potent than heroin — is
contributing to the ongoing opioid
crisis gripping Queens and
the entire United States. Some
dealers are cutting heroin with
fentanyl to create a more powerful,
but also a much more lethal,
substance when consumed.
Th is has led to a signifi cant
spike in drug-related fatalities
across the country and in Queens
— where, Brown reported earlier
this year, suspected fatal drug
overdoses were three times higher
than the murder rate in 2017.
Members of the NYPD Queens
Narcotics Squad linked Lewis to
drug sales in Astoria and Jackson
Heights through a long-term
investigation that involved the
use of court-authorized wiretaps.
Between April 6 and June
17, 2017, prosecutors said, Lewis
had phone conversations with
six individuals who asked to purchase
drugs from him.
Lewis or one of his associates
then handled the transaction,
exchanging drugs for cash.
In each instances, prosecutors
said, the buyers were arrested;
the drugs seized from them were
found to contain fentanyl.
Cops executed a search warrant
of Lewis’ home on July 19,
2017, and found a large rock of
fentanyl, a box with numerous
empty glassine envelopes and
other drug paraphernalia, and
$2,900 in cash.
Safety changes sought after deadly Queens hit-and-run
BY JENNA BAGCAL
As the family of a young boy fatally struck
by a SUV in Woodside last month laid him
to rest, safety advocates and elected offi cials
called for various improvements to make
Northern Boulevard safer.
Giovanni Ampuero was interred at
Calvary Cemetery in Woodside on Friday,
May 4, following his funeral Mass at St.
Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church. Th e following
Photo credit: Clarence Eckerson
Flushing doctor admits to botched abortion that killed woman
BY EMILY DAVENPORT
email@example.com / @QNS
A Long Island man who had a medical
practice in Flushing pleaded guilty
to criminally negligent homicide aft er his
30-year-old patient bled to death following
an abortion procedure in 2016, prosecutors
announced on Friday.
Robert Rho, 55, of Great Neck, chose to
plead guilty on May 4 even as jurors were
deliberating his fate aft er a four-week
trial, Queens District Attorney Richard
A. Brown said. Sentencing is set for June
26, and Rho faces 1 1/3 to four years in
According to trial testimony, the victim
went to the now closed Liberty Women’s
Health of Queens, where Dr. Rho maintained
a practice, on July 9, 2016, for a
previously scheduled abortion. Th e victim
arrived with her sister and the abortion was
performed aft er 1 p.m.
During the procedure, prosecutors said,
Dr. Rho caused a laceration to the victim’s
cervix, a perforation of the uterine wall and
a disruption and transection of the uterine
artery. He then failed to provide the
victim with appropriate and timely medical
While in the recovery room, authorities
said, the victim began to bleed profusely,
prompting Dr. Rho — who did not realize
she needed emergency medical care —
to perform a second surgical procedure to
repair the damage.
Th e victim left the facility and lost consciousness
as her sister drove her back to
her Bronx home. Th e victim was transported
to a local Bronx hospital and underwent
treatment for vaginal bleeding; she was provided
six units of blood during the process.
Despite the eff orts of medical staff , the victim
ultimately died that same evening.
“Sadly, a 30-year-old woman lost her life
as a result of the surgery,” Brown said. “Th e
doctor has now accepted responsibility and
admitted he failed to realize the damage
he’d done and did not provide appropriate
and timely medical care following the surgery.
He will go to prison as a result of his
day, May 5, Make Queens Safer in
partnership with Families for Safe Streets
and Transportation Alternatives Queens
Committee held a rally and vigil for
Ampuero, which was attended by the child’s
grief-stricken family and other supporters.
Attendees met in front of I.S. 230 for a rally
prior to the vigil at the site of the tragic crash.
“Burying yesterday, my son, was the worst
thing, I think, any parent could go through,”
said the boy’s father, Raul Ampuero in front
of the vigil attendees.
“My brother, he was an angel. He was
everything to me,” said Ampuero’s older
brother, Giancarlo, age 14.
In addition to Ampuero’s family, individuals
such as Cristina Furlong, co-founder
of Make Queens Safer, attended the vigil
to share the basic message that “one child’s
death is too many.”
“We couldn’t let this death go unheard
from our community. It’s just too great a
loss aft er too much work. Th ere’s a strong
community here that cares deeply for your
son and for your family,” said Furlong to
Ampuero’s father, mother and older brothers.
At the rally, Jessica Ramos, a candidate
for the state Senate seat held by Jose Peralta,
called for action to be taken for changes
on Northern Boulevard and within the
Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Not only should we install speed cameras,
not only should we advocate for ‘pedestrian
scrambles,’ meaning that all of the lights
turn red so that pedestrians can cross the
street; I believe that we should start thinking
about retesting drivers and making sure that
they’re still able to drive,” said Ramos.
Ramos seemed to allude to the driver
behind the wheel of the SUV that struck and
killed Ampuero, 86-year-old Juan B. Jimenez
of Manhattan, who was charged with leaving
the scene of an accident, failure to yield to a
pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.
Th e day before the vigil, on May 4, Peralta
and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker held
a press conference on the corner of 70th
Street and Northern Boulevard to announce
immediate traffi c lighting changes — something
which they demanded from Mayor Bill
de Blasio’s offi ce immediately aft er the April
Aft er meeting with the mayor, Leading
Pedestrian Interval (LPI) lights were installed
at and surrounding the location of the crash.
LPI is a lighting system which allows pedestrians
to get a 7-second head start in the
crosswalk before vehicles begin to move.
Congressman Joseph Crowley and other
elected offi cials also met with the DOT
Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on May
3 in order to talk about installing LPI at
other locations along Northern Boulevard
from 58th Street to Junction Boulevard, said
Although these changes “aren’t exactly
what we wanted,” DenDekker observed, they
are a step in the right direction for Northern
According to Make Queens Safer,
Giovanni Ampuero was the fi ft h child killed
on Northern Boulevard in less than six
years. Th e other children who were killed
were Noshat Nahian, 8, Miguel Torres, 11,
Olvidio Jaramillo, 17, and Jahair Figuero,
who was just 3 years old at his time of death.
“Th ey were all crossing in the crosswalk
with a green walk signal when they were
struck by drivers failing to yield to the pedestrians
in the crosswalk. Th e drivers are
100 percent responsible for these deaths,”
Peralta said that changes to the site of
the crash and all along Northern Boulevard
needed to be further examined.
“We cannot allow Northern Boulevard
to become the new ‘old Queens Boulevard’,
which was known as the Boulevard of Death.
Changes at this location are welcomed, but
we need to determine if additional changes
are needed along this busy corridor,”
Rally and vigil for Giovanni Ampuero on May 5.