Notes from the Neighborhood

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Swindler of UES Woman Indicted
Philip Leopold, who is charged with grand larceny, forgery, falsifying business records and several other charges, was indicted this week for stealing over $1.6 million from an 85-year-old Upper East Side woman who is nearly blind, has hearing problems and other health issues. Leopold, who is 76, first met his victim about 40 years ago, and he began helping her with her finances, writing out checks for her to sign to pay for her household expenses. In 2002, he convinced her to open a trust and name him and the Bank of New York as trustees, and he gradually began siphoning money into that account until it held $2 million by 2003. He began writing fraudulent checks to himself and forged letters to the bank, requesting transfers into his own accounts. According to court documents, Leopold used the stolen funds to pay for a myriad of expenses, from everyday household goods to several life insurance polices for him and his daughter. He spent $63,000 on storage units in Manhattan and used $882,000 to pay off his personal credit cards. Perhaps most appallingly, he spent over half a million dollars at ShopNBC, a television and online shopping site. He bought thousands of items through home shopping channels, including jewelry, electronics, figurines, coin collections, kitchen supplies and a "multi-color fog maker." Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement that the actions the defendant stands accused of are "sadly, not uncommon," and he encourages anyone who is a victim of or suspects someone they know to be a victim of elder abuse to call the DA's hotline at 212-335-9007.  
Historic Walking Tour
Preservation advocacy group Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts is leading a walking tour of the Carnegie Hill Historic District next Saturday, May 12. The walk will meander through the East 80s and 90s, with tour leader Bernie Cohen pointing out the sights along the way. The district, which was designated in 1974 and expanded in 1993, is the second largest on the Upper East Side and contains within its boundaries many rows of townhouses, freestanding residences and apartment buildings. The area was named for industrialist Andrew Carnegie, whose mansion on Fifth Avenue and East 91st Street now houses the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Participants should meet at the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and East 86th Street at 1 p.m. Advance payment ($15, $10 for members) is required; call 212-535-2526 or visit [](
to purchase tickets.  
City Planning to Unveil East Midtown Rezoning
The Department of City Planning will be presenting the results of its East Midtown Zoning Study to Community Board 6 this week. The department is expected to present a plan for rezoning that would create an increase of available commercial space by 20 to 30 percent. The "upzoning" would encourage buildings to be made taller (current zoning does not place a cap on height) in order to gain this space increase and also create ways for newer and more modern structures to be built in the area. The region affected would be between East 39th and 59th Streets, between Third and Fifth Avenues. Mayor Bloomberg has made it clear that he wants to see the region revamped and able to attract new business, especially technology companies; he has said that the city should make sure it is doing all it can to attract business to the area. Some neighborhood groups, including the Turtle Bay Association, are wary of the city making fast changes and will be watching the process closely, as will real estate interest groups who support changes that allow for more development.  
Mayfair Block Party
The Church of the Holy Trinity, which is known locally as the "dog-friendly church," is holding a free community block party this Saturday, May 5, 11 a.m. ? 6 p.m. Animal companions are welcome, and there will be special activities for cats, dogs and other pets. There will be toys and treats for sale, a silent auction to win a custom portrait of a pooch, pet horoscopes and training tips. For humans, there will be a health care booth with a doctor and physician's assistants on hand to check blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels. Kids can play in the bouncy castles, get their faces painted to match their canine companions and participate in crafts. There will also be food from the nearby Genesis Restaurant for sale, as well as beer and wine. The French Cookin' Blues Band will be supplying the musical vibes for the event. East 88th Street between First and Second Avenues.  
Women in Arts Celebrated
The Czech Center and Composers Concordance Records are hosting an evening of art and music by women, "Ladies First," on Friday, May 18. The opening reception will feature a video installation with interviews of prominent female artists, many of whom will be in attendance at the event. The chamber music concert to follow will feature world premiere works as well as Czech composer Antonin Dvo?ák's themes. Audience members can meet the musicians and artists at the after-party. The event runs from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 E. 73rd St. Suggested donation $20, RSVP at

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