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The Plumb Beach rest stop may be desolate and littered with used condoms, but federal police Monday denied doing a massive sting targeting alleged illicit homosexual behavior to bolster their arrest numbers.
The issue came to light at the recent Plumb Beach Civic Association meeting, when civic activist Gene Berardelli said a New York University law student informed him that Gateway National Park Service police conducted a sting operation there last August.
Berardeli said he was told the sting netted 76 arrests for alleged illicit homosexual behavior.
“He (law student Ben Silverman) informed me he is part of a project representing different defendants with regard to incidents on Plumb Beach alleging various illegal homosexual activities such as propositioning and exposure,” said Berardelli.
Berardelli said Silverman’s theory was the arrest blitz came because the Gateway National Park Service police stationed at Floyd Bennett Field are facing a massive budget cut and wanted to bolster their arrest numbers to justify their budget.
When reached by this newspaper, Silverman said his law professor told him not to comment further about the allegations.
But Gateway National Park spokesperson Jane Ahern said United States Park Police (USPP) initiated a plain clothes patrol during August 2009, which resulted in about 17 arrests in the Plumb Beach area.
“They (USPP) do standard undercover operations, but there was no massive stings or anything like that,” said Ahern. “We do close the rest area at 10 p.m. and open at 6 a.m., and everybody after those hours would be loitering, but there was no sting operation.”
Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo said she tends to believe the National Park Service.
Part of the problem is the rest stop area has multiple jurisdictions with the National Park Service controlling the beach and water area, the city Parks Department controlling the forested area, the city Department of Transportation controlling the bike path and city police controlling the area around the rest stop, she said.
Scavo said the area has long been known as a gathering spot for illicit homosexual behavior.
It is also the area where Michael Sandy died in 2007 while running into traffic on the Belt Parkway after being lured to the rest stop with promises of sex and then the perpetrators tried to rob him.
Scavo said the community board tried several years ago to have the entrance from the Belt Parkway to the rest stop closed, forcing people to park closer to Knapp Street who wanted to use it.
This forces people that want to use it to walk a little. The way it is now people can just pull into the rest stop area, do their illicit behavior and leave without barely being noticed, she said.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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