2012-06-20 / Features


Car Theft And Chop Shops — A Queens Menace

n attack on an alleged chop shop operator in his lair near 55th Street in Maspeth in February of 1994 led to the arrest of 13 individuals, including a reputed captain in the Bonnano crime syndicate, by detectives from the Queens District Attorney’s Office Squad and from the Nassau County Crimes Against Property Squad.

As reported in the Feb. 22, 1995 issue of the Gazette, Guy Gralto of East Rockaway in Nassau County, a defendant in the case, was beaten and shot by his then partners in a chop shop he used to run.

He allegedly sought the protection of Vincent Asaro of Ozone Park said to be a captain in the Bonnano crime organization. Asaro was accused of receiving payment from Gralto in return for extending Gralto the right to operate a chop shop ring and receive protection from other criminals who sought to encroach upon the business.

With Asaro and Gralto 11 additional individuals were charged by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, with participating in a multi-million dollar auto theft, dismantling and stolen parts distribution ring that operated in Brooklyn, Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as in Queens.

After a year-long investigation, Thomas Parker of Linden Boulevard, Queens and Victor Norwood, Jamaica were arrested as alleged “steel men”, or thieves. Frank Steele of South Ozone Park, Anthony Cola of Ozone Park and Danny Domingo also of Ozone Park were indicted as alleged chop shop owners and operators.

Car theft is still a problem in the borough of Queens especially in Northeastern Queens, where residents of Whitestone, Bayside and College Point fall victim because of their close proximity to the Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges. A car thief can be out of the city limits or even the state itself within an hour.—Jason D. Antos

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