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A new Russian restaurant, Restaurant Lazzat, is set to open soon at 1969 Bath Avenue. Elle Spektor, our roaming reporter, writes in:

Noticed this on my way home yesterday and thought it was interesting. There’s a new venue, “Restaurant Lazzat” starting construction on Bath Avenue and 20th Avenue. The place was formerly a Middle-Eastern cafe. It’s the first Russian eatery being built in this neighborhood in quite some time – probably the past few years.

The storefront was previously Al-Falah Restaurant and Sweets, serving South Asian and Arabic cuisine.

Source: Nathan James/Flickr

Legislation aimed at reducing auto insurance fraud in New York State passed the Senate on Monday, bringing the bill which allows insurance companies to retroactively cancel the policies of fraudsters one step closer to law.

The Senate bill was sponsored by State Senator Marty Golden, who describes it in this press release:

Today the New York State Senate passed S1959A, sponsored by Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), which allows insurance companies to retroactively cancel policies taken out by people who commit auto fraud. These criminals often take out policies and pay for them with bad checks or stolen credit cards just before they stage accidents. Under current law, insurance companies cannot cancel the policy and policyholders wind up paying for it through higher premiums. This bill would take that burden off honest consumers and therefore lower the insurance rates.

“Auto insurance fraud is costing New Yorkers millions of dollars, and it’s time that fair and honest members of our community stop paying for the crimes of others,” stated Senator Golden. “This legislation will give insurance companies the right to revoke insurance policies for those who try to game the system.”

This measure would bring New York in line with the other large no-fault states and remove any incentives for staged accidents. In fact, only seven other states (AZ, CO, KS, ME, MD, NC and SD) do not allow for retroactive cancellation. Innocent victims of uninsured drivers would be covered under their own policy or the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation.

The bill, which you can read here, now moves onto the Democratic-led Assembly, where it has support from a number of Democrats, including local Assembly members Steven Cymbrowitz and Dov Hikind.

Previous versions of this bill – and two others passed by the Senate to combat auto fraud – died in the Assembly.

Auto fraud continues to be an ongoing issue in Southern Brooklyn. The longest-running and largest auto insurance scam ring in history ended in April 2012, when authorities busted 36 individuals – many of them Southern Brooklyn residents – using anti-Mafia RICO laws. The individuals were accused of exploiting New York’s “no-fault” insurance law, which allows drives and passengers to obtain up to $50,000 for accidents injuries regardless of fault.

Prior to that, another ring was busted in Brooklyn, leading to the arrest of 16 people for allegedly ripping off companies for $400,000 between 2009 and 2011.

Fort Hamilton High School (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

One hundred and thirty students from Fort Hamilton High School (8301 Shore Road) were stranded on a Florida highway overnight after their charter bus broke down early Monday morning..

The kids were returning from Disney World, where they competed in a Disney Music Festival, when one of the two buses carrying the students broke down on Insterstate 4, just outside of Orlando.

The students were stuck for more than eight hours without power or air conditioning after the mechanical failure. Rather than split the kids up and let the functioning bus go on its way, Assistant Principal Tom Oberle decided to keep both buses together for their safety.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., a replacement charter bus arrived, allowing them to transfer and be on their way.

They got back to the school early Tuesday morning, safe and sound.

One of the student’s mothers wrote to Bensonhurst Bean about the ordeal, and praised Oberle for effectively managing the situation:

My daughter is a member of the FHHS Orchestra and is on the bus.

I spoke to my daughter early this morning, who said they slept on the bus on the side of the road awaiting the new bus which finally came at around 8:30 this morning. I lost communication with her as her cell phone battery died during the long wait for the new bus, however, I am confident in her safety with Mr. Oberle, the assistant Principal and Staff Chaperones.

The Principal and parent coordinator assured us through email and phone messages(see below) that safety and care is their number one priority.

Students will be provided food and beverages for everyone during the extended travel by the school . She said they will be excused from school tommorrow, but have to make up the work they missed.

I commend Tom Oberle, the assistant principal and Staff Chaparones for keeping the students calm and safe during the ordeal.

I can’t wait till their arrival this morning between 3 and 5 AM and finally breath a sigh of relief that they are home safe!

Here is the letter the principal sent out to the students’ families:

Dear Parents of Students on the Festival Disney Trip:

By now you have heard from your child about the delay in their return to Brooklyn from the Florida trip. The bus break down was unfortunate, but more problematic was the long wait for a replacement bus. Please know that Mr. Oberle has consistently pressed the bus company for more immediate responsiveness and information since the bus broke down late Sunday evening. We have been working together since early this morning and finally have confirmation that students are back on the road as of 9:30am today, Monday, March 24.

We are sorry about the inconvenience, but this is what we expect regarding students’ return to school:

3/24/14 9:30am Back on road to NYC

6:30pm Arrive Fayetteville, NC to exchange temporary bus with Coach USA bus for remainder of trip back to NYC

3/25/14 3:00am Expected arrival at Fort Hamilton HS.

Students will be excused from classes as though they were still involved in the trip, but they will need to make up the work.

The expected return of 3am may be modified once they are further into the trip. Please stay in touch with your child via cell or other means.

The safety and care for your children continues to be the number one priority. Resources to provide food and beverages for everyone during the extended travel will be covered by the school.

The delay in return also puts a delay in celebrating the students’ success in the competition, but we are proud of every student and staff member who participated in the Disney competition. Thank you for continued trust. Please let me know if you have questions.

Kaye Houlihan,

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Apple Bank (Source: Google Maps)

Apple Bank (Source: Google Maps)

Police are looking for a suspect who passed a note demanding money to a bank teller at Apple Bank for Savings shortly after noon today, NYCityAlerts says.

The bank is located at 1973 86th Street, adjacent to Starbucks.

Cops have called a Level one response, drawing units from other areas to help search the surrounding areas for the perpetrator.

This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will update it as more information becomes available. If anyone has more information or additional photos, please send them to nberke (at) bensonhurstbean (dot) com.

Source: .v1ctor Casale./Flickr

A thug ran up to a 65-year-old man, knocked him over and smashed his face into the pavement in an early morning assault on Tuesday that at least one local leader says is the latest incident of anti-Semitic knockout attacks in the area.

The victim was an Orthodox Jew visiting the neighborhood from London for a wedding reception near McDonald Avenue and 18th Avenue. It occurred as the man left the reception at 2:30 a.m., and the victim suffered a split lip and chipped tooth.

The suspect was still at large as of Tuesday afternoon.

Councilman David Greenfield told the Daily News that it appears to be a new twist on the “knockout game” assaults that plagued the neighborhood – and specifically Orthodox Jewish residents – in November and December.

He told the paper:

“It is shocking and disturbing to hear about yet another apparent anti-Semitic assault in our community, especially after so many similar incidents over the past months,” City Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) said in a statement.

“Simply put, there is no place for this type of heinous behavior in our city, as nobody should be afraid to walk the streets of their community at any time of day or night.”

Police said the assault didn’t appear to be connected to previous attacks, which included the assault of a 78-year-old Midwood woman, and a Jewish man who was assaulted a few blocks away from the latest incident. Police have made arrests in those incidents.

Councilman Mark Treyger is pushing new legislation that would require snow plows to have flashing lights and a make beeping noises, following the plow-related deaths of two Brooklynites this winter.

The two victims were killed by plows within two weeks of each other. On February 3, an elderly man was struck and killed by a plow in Brighton Beach in front of the Oceana complex. On February 13, a pregnant 36-year-old woman was killed by a plow clearing out the parking lot of a Borough Park market.

Treyger’s bill, first reported on by the Daily News, will require plows to have lights and “a loud, distinctive noise” to let pedestrians know when a plow is approaching.

“You’re dealing with low visibility,” he told the paper. “If we can buy a few seconds for these pedestrians to give them time to react, this could save a life.”

The new regulations, however, would not have prevented the two deaths cited. Both were killed by private CAT-style vehicles repurposed for snow removal. Treyger’s bill only affects Department of Sanitation snow plows, and other plows contracted by the city.

The new rules might have helped the man who was knocked off his feet by a tsunami of snow created by a speeding Sanitation truck in February. The man, walking on Coney Island Avenue, was knocked down and injured by a wave of snow that also broke the windows of a nearby storefront, and he is now mulling a lawsuit against the city. He said he never saw the truck coming.

UPDATE (March 28, 2014): Councilman Treyger’s office got in touch to note an error int he Daily News version. In actuality, there are two bills on the table, extending this new regulation to privately-operated plows as well. See the statement below:

Councilman Mark Treyger (D – Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Seagate, Gravesend) announces new legislation to require all vehicles engaged in the removal of snow on roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and pedestrian walkways to be outfitted with flashing lights and audible warning systems. This legislation, which follows the recent deaths of three pedestrians who were stuck and killed by snowplows in Brooklyn, would apply to plows operated by the City of New York and privately owned plows.

“Snowplows are vehicles we deploy during times of emergency” asserts Treyger. “We should be treating them like emergency vehicles. Furthermore, during a snowstorm, you’re dealing with low visibility and it is easy for pedestrians to be blindsided. This is precisely what happened to Min Lin, a pregnant mother, who was killed in Sunset Park this past winter. Anything we can do to buy a few seconds forpedestrians and give them time to react could save lives. The state of Ohio has already passed a similar bill and it’s high time New York City caught up on this important issue.”

Authorities executed a search warrant at 29 Van Sicklen Street yesterday, which is listed as Mikhail Presman's medical office. They discovered it was actually his residence. (Source: Google Maps)

The residence of Mikhail Presman (Source: Google Maps)

He was facing 10 years, but, ultimately, Gravesend-based psychiatrist Mikhail Presman was sentenced earlier this month to 18 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release for Medicare fraud.

Presman was busted in a massive Medicare fraud sweep in May 2013 that netted 89 individuals accused of plundering the government insurance program out of $223 million. Bensonhurst Bean was first to report on a raid of his 29 Van Sicklen Street residence, pictured above.

A former employee of the Brooklyn Veteran’s Administration hospital, Presman ran a scheme from 2006 to 2013. He claimed to be treating a multitude of patients, racking up over a $4 million in Medicare bills while also pulling a full-time salary at the VA. But, evidence showed, most of the appointments never existed. During a part of the stretch when he was claiming patients, he was actually taking a vacation with his family in China. He also claimed home visits to 55 Medicare beneficiaries who were hospitalized on the dates of the purported visits.

He pleaded guilty in October 2013, and sentenced on March 13.

In addition to the 18 month sentence and three years of supervision, he was ordered to pay back $1.2 million to the government.

Pray, is that a full kitchen, a hallway and real sunlight? All in one apartment? (Source: Triumph Property Group)

Looking for a new place to call home? Bensonhurst Bean has got you covered. Our rental roundup is a new feature showcasing some of the deals on the market now. If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com. And if you live in or near one the places below, let neighbors know what you think in the comments.

Three Bedrooms and Hallways in Bath Beach
Price: $2,300
Location: Bay 41st Street and Harway Avenue
Description: This big apartment has been completely renovated and includes a dishwasher. Unfortunately, pets aren’t allowed.
Contact: Claudia Caicedo, Triumph Property Group, (917)435-5554

Studio with Creepy Curtains in Bensonhurst
Price: $1,150
Location: 1806 76th Street
Description: With the D train close by and rent that is cheaper than many places, this apartment might be suitable for someone who isn’t home too often. Whether or not you’ll soon be calling “this charming space home,” as the realtor boasts in the post, is up for debate.
Contact: Megan Walsh, Realty Collective, (914) 882-1169

One Bedroom Near 86th Street in Bath Beach
Price: $1,350
Location: 57 Bay 14th Street
Description: With a sizable kitchen, this one bedroom is larger than most. But it looks like the apartment gets absolutely no sunlight even though it has windows. Good credit is a must.
Contact: Mallorie Watts, Rapid Realty, (646) 634-2346

Two Bedrooms and Wall Lamps in Bensonhurst
Price: $1,750
Location: 7522 Bay Parkway
Description: Once in a while you stumble across things during an apartment search that seem like, uh, interesting design choices by the previous tenants. In this apartment, there are two lamps hanging on one of the walls. Who knows, they may be collector’s items.
Contact: Moe, 1st Premier Realty, (347) 939-7512

If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com.


For many children, confidence can be a hard thing to come by. In Acting Out, a Bensonhurst business, children and teenagers are taught to sing, dance, act – and believe in themselves. Up on stage day after day, kids learn to be comfortable in the spotlight.

“It’s really important for them to kind of come out of their shell and just have fun in these classes,” Emily Nicholas, a singing and acting instructor, said.

The business is owned by John and Roberta Isgro. In 2012, they opened the school on 7426 15th Avenue. At the time they were seeking a grant to launch the local acting school. More than 10 years ago, they both got into the idea of having an acting school when Roberta opened an Acting Out in Mill Basin, which still operates today. With only a “small class and a handful of vocal students,” John told Bensonhurst Bean, he soon joined his wife.

We put together this little video to bring readers inside the school, and show how they’re helping students build confidence and skills.

Inside Bensonhurst’s Acting School For Kids from Eric Jankiewicz on Vimeo.

Source: jeweledlion/Flickr

Councilman Chaim Deutsch has advised us that there are nearly 100 vacancies for crossing guard positions across New York City, making a potentially dangerous situation for children – and creating an opportunity for those looking for part-time employment.

Crossing guards are employed by the New York Police Department, and keep the streets safe for crossing children at both public and private schools. According to Deutsch, the NYPD had 92 vacancies as of mid-January. He’s encouraging residents to visit their local precinct and sign up.

“Establishing public safety in my community has always been my top priority,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. “By applying for a position as an NYPD Crossing Guard, you will be helping to protect neighborhood children while getting paid and obtaining excellent benefits, a win-win situation.”

Here are the details on the job:

There are no formal requirements of education or experience. School Crossing Guards work five-hour days for a maximum of 25 hours per week. Schedules may vary by school, but are generally from 7:00 am to 9:30 am, and 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm. The starting rate of pay is $9.88 per hour. Every effort is made to assign guards to a school within the precinct where they reside. School Crossing Guards are eligible to enroll in a city-sponsored health insurance program if they work 20 hours per week on a steady basis. All candidates must be able to understand and be understood in English, in addition to passing a qualifying medical examination and a character investigation.

In addition to visiting your precinct, you can find the application here.