Roadside Car Dealers Illegally Hog Parking Spots, Residents Say

By Paul DeBenedetto on September 17, 2012 7:40am 

QUEENS — Cars left illegally sitting on the side of the road for days by dealers trying to make a sale around Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights have neighbors fuming, officials said.

On streets like Corona Avenue, Roosevelt Avenue and National Street, cars without license plates or registration stickers occupy parking spots for days at a time, with signs or painted windows that display a cellphone number and a sale price.

"I get flooded with calls," said Assemblyman Francisco Moya. "It's really increased into what we see as a business."

Police have been trying to ticket or tow the cars, but they still pop up around the neighborhoods, according to a representative from the 110th Precinct.

Moya said that he even once confronted a man who left one of the cars in front of his own home. The man reportedly told Moya he was "just trying to make a little money."

A bulk of the cars in Corona are adorned with the phone numbers of two men who sometimes do business out of the parking lot of a Gulf gas station at the corner of Corona Avenue and Junction Boulevard.

John Nunez and a man who identified himself as Henry Almonte, but whose dealer's license said Francisco Cruceta, said they have been selling cars in the neighborhood for years without hassle.

"The police know me and my brother for 10 years," Almonte said of himself and Nunez. "I'm not selling drugs, you know?"

Almonte said the two men buy their cars at auctions across the tri-state area and sell them on the street at lower prices than those listed at larger dealers, like Major World.

But Almonte said that over the last few months, more and more people have begun to complain, and his cars have been towed. In those cases, he said, he picks them up, pays the fine and goes back to selling them on the street.

An NYPD spokesman said that cars on city streets must be registered. If they are registered in New York, the car must have a front and a back plate to park on the street. If the car is registered in a state that allows one plate, that plate must be on the vehicle.

"I've got my title. I've got everything, you know?" Almonte said. "I'm selling cars. That's my business. I'm not doing nothing wrong."

Almonte also said that he currently had 10 to 12 cars on the road, and he suspects much of the complaints are about another car dealer in the neighborhood. That argument, however, was suspect, said Community Board 4 chair Louis Walker.

"He may not be the only person who's come up with this 'great idea,'" Walker said. "But this guy's making like there's only a few cars. Uh, I don't think so."

Walker said he's seen the cars as far north as Northern Boulevard, on throughfares and on side streets.

The 110th Precinct spokesman said patrols are on the lookout for the cars, ticketing and towing as many as they can.

"When the cars start disappearing, I don't think they'll be so happy about that," Walker said.

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