Northeast nonprofit helps victims and crime witnesses

A North­east-based non­profit can provide fin­an­cial help to crime vic­tims, the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or last week told 15th Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil mem­bers.

Jerry Bolzak said North­east Vic­tim Ser­vice on the 2400 block of Cottman Av­en­ue has been help­ing vic­tims and crime wit­nesses since 1992. 

“We col­lab­or­ate with the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s of­fice,” Bolzak said.

Not only does the or­gan­iz­a­tion help them through their deal­ings with the crim­in­al-justice sys­tem, he said, it provides fed­er­al funds to cov­er vic­tims’ losses.

“Not every­one is eli­gible,” he said, but ad­ded that North­east Vic­tim Ser­vice paid out $400,000 to vic­tims last year.

“This is a fed­er­al com­pens­a­tion pro­gram. … All of it is paid through crim­in­al fines,” he said, “not tax money.”

He ex­plained that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment col­lects fines from crim­in­als, and that it is those funds that the ser­vice gets to crime vic­tims.

Many people who are eli­gible for this fin­an­cial help don’t know about it, don’t ap­ply for it or ig­nore no­ti­fic­a­tions that they might be eli­gible, he said.

Bolzak said North­east Vic­tim Ser­vice mon­it­ors po­lice re­ports. With­in a week of re­port­ing a crime, vic­tims should get let­ters from the po­lice in­form­ing them of the pos­sib­il­ity they could be eli­gible for fin­an­cial and oth­er help. Then, they should hear from the ser­vice about a week later.

Some­times, the let­ters are ig­nored or dis­carded, he said.

“People trash them,” he said.

Oth­er than the fin­an­cial help, Bolzak said, the or­gan­iz­a­tion aids vic­tims and wit­nesses with coun­sel­ing and in­form­a­tion about what hap­pens in the courts.

“It’s a big help to us,” said As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Mark Gilson.

Gilson told mem­bers that “May­fair Tire Slash­er” Dav­id Toledo was found guilty of punc­tur­ing many of his neigh­bors’ car tires, but might not be sen­tenced to any jail time.

That ver­dict came in early Feb­ru­ary after a weeklong tri­al, Gilson said. 

The 46-year-old Toledo, who is free on bail, had been charged with van­dal­iz­ing car tires for four months in early 2012 around Cottman and Frank­ford av­en­ues. He was found guilty of 15 charges and ac­quit­ted of 44 oth­er charges.

“We had no eye­wit­nesses,” Gilson said, adding the case was built on cir­cum­stan­tial evid­ence. “The jury con­victed him of the crimes we had the best evid­ence of.”

He said the DA’s of­fice is re­quest­ing jail time, Gilson said, but he said he doubted Toledo will be sent to pris­on when he is sen­tenced March 24.

“Non­vi­ol­ent crim­in­als gen­er­ally don’t get sent to jail,” he said.

In oth­er news:

• Com­munity Re­la­tions Of­ficer Keisha Jac­obs told mem­bers that vi­ol­ent crimes in the 15th are down 41 per­cent so far this year. Prop­erty crimes like burg­lary dipped 10 per­cent, she said, and shoot­ings are down 3 per­cent.

• PDAC mem­bers will elect their of­ficers dur­ing their March 31 ses­sion at 7 p.m. at the May­fair Com­munity Cen­ter, 2990 St. Vin­cent St.

• Frank Kruz­in­ski, PDAC vice pres­id­ent and rep­res­ent­at­ive of the Brides­burg Town Watch, told mem­bers he had missed sev­er­al meet­ings over the past year to at­tend to some per­son­al is­sues. He said he had asked for and re­ceived per­mis­sion for a leave of ab­sence.

• State Sen. Tina Tartagli­one (D-2nd dist.) stopped by the Feb. 24 meet­ing. She told mem­bers she has served for 20 years and is up for re-elec­tion this year. She said she op­posed Gov. Tom Corbett’s at­tempts to sell Pennsylvania’s state store sys­tem and the state lot­tery. Both of the gov­ernor’s ef­forts have been un­suc­cess­ful so far, she said, but she ex­pects Corbett to try again.

Ad­vis­ory coun­cil mem­ber­ship is not open to the gen­er­al pub­lic. Those who at­tend PDAC meet­ings rep­res­ent oth­er com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions like Town Watches or civic as­so­ci­ations as well as schools, churches, hos­pit­als and busi­nesses. Elec­ted of­fi­cials also at­tend or send rep­res­ent­at­ives. ••

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