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How a promising Ivy League student became another opioid crisis victim

New York Post

Gage Bellitto didn’t go home for Christmas. He didn’t call his parents, even though the holiday was also his birthday. “He was always doing this, ignoring us, so we thought he was making a point,” said his mother, Kyle Bellitto. “We figured he was angry at us.” Two days later — Dec. 27 — Kyle stopped by her son’s dorm at Columbia University. Police officers were gathered in front of his first-floor room. Don’t go in, they said. A detective broke the horrible news. “I just couldn’t believe he was gone,” she said. “I still don’t believe it.” Police estimate her son died on Dec. 22, five days before his body was found. Gage, who would have turned 20 on Dec. 25, died alone of what authorities suspect was an opioid overdose. Gage came from a good family and was a smart student who went to the best schools. Yet like 67,000 other Americans killed yearly by opioids, Gage could not escape the epidemic that has spread to college campuses around the country, including the Ivy League. Jonathan Winnefeld, the 19-year-old son of a Navy admiral, died in a University of Denver dorm Sept. 7 after overdosing on fentanyl and heroin. The next day, Eric Chase Bolling — the 19-year-old son of former Fox News personality Eric Bolling — died from a drug mix that also included fentanyl while attending the University of Colorado. About 7 percent of US college students have misused non-medical p…

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How a beloved NYC priest saved Mickey Rourke’s life

New York Post

“I was in the worst shape I’d ever been in, and then this big dude appears and says ‘Hi,’” Rourke told The Post in an exclusive interview last week. The “big dude” was Rev. Peter Colapietro, a larger than life priest — he stood 6 feet tall and weighed 325 pounds — beloved among his flock of actors, stagehands, bus drivers and junkies who lived and worked in the gritty neighborhood near his Times Square church for more than two decades. He died earlier this month. Father Pete, dubbed “the whiskey priest” by legendary Post columnist Steve Dunleavy, was also a regular at Elaine’s and well…

Clinic fired me for asking to pump breast milk on the job: suit

New York Post

An Upper West Side fertility clinic told an employee she had “no class” because she needed to pump breast milk on the job, then canned her, she claims in a lawsuit. Jessica Mack had a newborn when she began working as a financial consultant for the Neway Fertility Clinic on West 79th Street in 2016, but that apparently didn’t matter to the facility when she sought a place to pump breast milk for her 1-month-old, the Brooklyn mother of two says. “There was no apprehension because there was never anything said to me to make me think, ‘This is not the place for me,’ ” she told The Post. Neway…

NYC spent $1B to settle lawsuits

New York Post

The city spent more than $1 billion to settle claims and lawsuits in fiscal year 2017, with the biggest payouts going to “Black Sunday” firefighters and their families, men wrongfully convicted, and people hurt by cops. The staggering sum — $1.018 billion — was a hair less than the $1.020 billion paid in FY 2016, City Comptroller Scott Stringer says in a report to be released Tuesday. However, payments for personal-injury and property damage rose by nearly six percent — marking the fifth year in a row of rising costs. On the positive side, Stringer touted a seven p…

Statue of suit-wearing dog sparks outcry in Chinatown

New York Post

This statue is in the doghouse. A 900-pound bronze sculpture of a natty canine in a business suit holding a red apple was set to be unveiled in the heart of Chinatown Thursday in time to ring in the Year of the Dog. But those plans were scrapped after residents barked that it would be a desecration to the hallowed Kimlau Square, which honors fallen US service members of Chinese descent. “This insulting image of a ‘Dog-Man’ has no place next to this sacred and solemn community site where we honor our community heroes,” groused local arts advocate Amy Chin, the organizer of an online petitio…

Bronx fire hero remembered for selflessness at funeral mass

New York Post

The nearly two months that passed since Private First Class Emmanuel Mensah died a hero in a Bronx inferno have done little to ease his family’s pain. Mensah, 28, was mourned Saturday at a funeral mass which recalled the characteristic selflessness that cost the young soldier his life. Our Lady of Mount Carmel R.C. Church was packed with friends and family, many wearing colors from his native Ghana, and with fellow members of the military who praised his heroism. Mensah died Dec. 28 while helping neighbors escape his five-story apartment building while it was engulfed in flames. Men…

12 injured in fire at legendary Little Italy restaurant

New York Post

A legendary Little Italy restaurant went up in flames early Saturday and about a dozen people were hurt as they fled the building on Mulberry Street. The 7:40 a.m. blaze seriously damaged Angelo’s, which has been in business since 1902. The building has five floors of apartments above the restaurant. The eatery’s customers have included former President Ronald Reagan, LA Laker Kobe Bryant and musician Steven Van Zandt. Co-owner Teresa Aprea, along with her husband Rino, also appeared on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” She vowed Angelo’s “will be back stronger than we ever were.’’ R…

NYC weather forecast sees balmy temps after snow

New York Post

Snow is expected to start falling in the city in the late evening Saturday and continue to fall through early morning, with up to 6 inches expected to blanket the city by the time the storm ends. But by the middle of the week, we won’t even need a jacket. Temps are expected to climb to a high of 72 degrees by Wednesday. Forecasts call for 3-to-6 inches beginning sometime after 5 p.m. and ending around sunrise, as a storm makes its way through the region from the Midwest. The storm is expected to be heavy at times, with low visibility, though winds are forecast to be light. Whatever the tot…

Hospital worker kept crash pad in college dorm for decades: suit

New York Post

Derek DefreitasDavid McGlynn A 67-year-old man has been crashing in a Hunter College dorm room — among comely coeds — for nearly four decades, according to a new lawsuit by the university. Derek DeFreitas has a permanent residence in Orange County. Yet he’s “maintained a dormitory room ‘crash pad’ at the Brookdale Residence Hall on East 25th Street and First Avenue” since 1980, a lawyer for Hunter says in the suit for his ouster. The 14-story brick building was once a part of the Bellevue School of Nursing, but Hunter — which is associated with The City University of New York — now controls…

Museum manager fired for plot to block Israel celebration

New York Post

Israel was able to hold the event only after museum officials reversed a decision to reject the request following a public outcry. But the controversy gave the museum a black eye. Upset at what happened, the board of trustees then hired an outside firm to conduct an independent probe into why its own staff sought to block the commemoration and the dubious explanations given to board members to justify it. The investigative report found that museum director Laura Raicovich and deputy director David Strauss “exercised poor judgment” and “knowingly misled” the board. As it turned out, R…

De Blasio: Cuomo is all talk when it comes to public housing

New York Post

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is all talk when it comes to supporting residents of the city’s public housing system, Mayor Bill de Blasio charged Friday. “This is a pattern we’ve seen in the state of New York, and under this governor, where there’s a lot of talk about helping public housing residents, but we don’t see real resources,” the mayor said on WNYC radio. Hizzoner’s comments came a day after Cuomo said he was mulling whether to declare a state of emergency at the massive housing agency, a move that would expedite much-needed repairs to an aging system. But the mayor questioned the motives of …

Man exonerated for murder he didn’t commit is finally free

New York Post

A Brooklyn man is “ecstatic” to finally get his name cleared after almost 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. “It feels great!” newly exonerated Sundhe Moses said Friday as he strode out of Brooklyn Criminal Court, where a judge dismissed his old murder charges. More On: louis scarcella Another man convicted with help of disgraced cop exonerated after 18 years Disgraced detective's victims struggle to adjust to life outside prison Louis Scarcella can’t be charged if he stays silent in court Shady cop's victim tastes freedom for first…

Feds bust twin brothers from the Bronx for trying to build bombs

New York Post

Cops have busted twin brothers from the Bronx for allegedly stockpiling explosive materials and crafting bombs inside their home — with help from high school students. Christian Toro, a former teacher at Harlem Prep, and his brother, Tyler Toro, were both arrested by the FBI on Thursday as part of a joint investigation with the NYPD. The two 27-year-olds had been forging explosive devices inside their Pelham Parkway apartment since last October — using gunpowder from fireworks as the base for their bomb-making, according to the complaint. A search of the residence turned up a s…

Congressional candidate busted for theft says she’s on a ‘fixed income’

New York Post

The Wisconsin congressional candidate who sold a ring she stole from a Manhattan jewelry store admitted to the ripoff — but claims she is on a “fixed income” and the whole thing is a misunderstanding. Juliet Germanotta, 36, who posted $2,500 bail and is taking an Amtrak to her home state, told The Post at Penn Station she was barely able to spring herself from jail. “My credit card’s basically maxed,” she moaned on Thursday before catching her 3 p.m. train. “By the grace of God I had the bail money.” The 36-year-old transgender woman running …

Spying on his ex-wife cost this man a fortune

New York Post

Fifty dollars worth of spy gear just cost this Yale grad a fortune. Brooklyn Heights dad Crocker Coulson forfeited any claim to his estranged wife’s tobacco fortune after he bugged her iPhone with $50 software that allowed him to record confidential meetings with her lawyer and shrink to gain an advantage in their divorce. Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Sunshine doled out the “drastic” punishment because of the “unprecedented, contumacious conduct” of the Yale-educated investment consultant. Sunshine added that the punishment was a signal to oth…

Man hit by falling fire escape dies

New York Post

A man who was hit over the head by a metal fire-escape step that fell seven stories in Soho has died, authorities said Saturday. Richard Marchhart, 58, was strolling down Broadway near Howard Street at around 1:45 p.m. Friday when the debris rained down, cracking him over the head and leaving him with a fractured skull. Marchhart, of Garden City, LI, succumbed to his injuries early Saturday morning at Bellevue Hospital. A 24-year-old woman was also struck by the debris, but she escaped with only a minor cut to the head, authorities said. The hefty, metal step came loose during a routine i…

New York state gun laws allow 16-year-olds to own rifles

New York Post

The complex web of federal and state gun laws has produced a hodgepodge of regulations across the country — and even in New York state. Federal law bars licensed gun dealers from selling rifles and ammo to anyone younger than 18, but there’s no age restriction when it comes to sales between private individuals. And while 22 states and the District of Columbia ban rifle sales to minors, New York — outside New York City — is among those that let kids 16 and older with a hunting permit possess the weapons, according to information compiled by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. …

Food cart vendor found not guilty of assaulting rival

New York Post

A pushy food cart vendor whose punch landed his rival chicken rice peddler in a coma last year, got down on his knees and wept outside the Manhattan criminal courtroom after he was found not guilty of assault. Sameh Amer, 39, was facing a top charge of assault with intent to cause physical harm for the punch that left Mohammad Uddin unconscious in front of the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street, where both men were vying for the ideal spot to hawk their street food. The rivalry started months earlier, with an order of protection taken out against Amer by Uddin’s business partner.…