A 59-year-old man with at least seven prior felony convictions has been arraigned for allegedly robbing a Boro Park child of his scooter earlier this month.
Six-year-old Simcha Rotenberg was riding his scooter on 12th Avenue at 35th Street on July 7 when a man grabbed the scooter and rode off on it. The incident, captured on surveillance video, drew outrage as a new low in a city experiencing a surge of crimes.
On Monday, police arrested Daniel Ufares, 59, of Bushwick. Ufares was arraigned Tuesday on felony charges of second-degree attempted robbery, third degree robbery, fourth-degree grand larceny; as well as petit larceny and third-degree menacing, both misdemeanors. Bail was set at $50,000 cash/$75,000 bond.
According to prosecutors, upon being arrested Ufares told police, “I just seen the kid with the scooter. I ask him where his mommy and daddy is. He got off and I took the scooter and left … I sold it to a person for $100.”
According to the New York Post, police identified Ufares by running surveillance video of the scene through the NYPD’s facial-recognition technology, and Ufares told them he used the money from the scooter sale for drugs.
Court records reviewed by Hamodia show Ufares to have at least seven prior felony convictions, including four for robbery.
In one case, in 2009, Ufares robbed $4,230 from a bank in the Upstate New York town of DeWitt. According to prosecutors, during that robbery Ufares wore a camouflage mask and skin-darkening makeup, and covered his hand with a sleeve, pointing it in the shape of a gun. He pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery, receiving a 15-year sentence.
According to the Post, Ufares served nine years of that sentence, and is still on supervised release. Since his release, he has twice been arrested for stealing food from supermarkets.
The Post reported that Ufares also previously served seven years from 2002 to 2009 for another robbery; more than five years from 1993 to 1999 for drug-dealing and violating parole; and 15 months from 1991 to 1992 for attempted burglary. He was also arrested for alleged robbery in 1984, attempted murder in 1989, and assaulting a police officer in 1991, though the outcome of those cases was not immediately known. The prosecutor had sought $100,000 bail, saying Ufares “is a repeat offender, two violent felonies, two parole revocations,” including a 1991 manslaughter case.
As he was led out of the 66th Precinct station Monday evening, a Hamodia reporter asked Ufares whether he was “looking forward to going back to prison.”
“[It doesn’t] make me no difference,” replied the man who has spent more than a third of his life behind bars.
Asked if he had anything to say to the child, Ufares responded, “I’m sorry.”
The story has already had something of a happy ending for Simcha. In the days following the robbery, people from around the city reached out to the Rotenberg family and offered to buy a new scooter. On his seventh birthday on July 13, Simcha was presented with a gift of a brand-new scooter and safety helmet by Toys 2 Discover owner Yonasan Schwartz, in front of the 66th Precinct station.
But Simcha’s father, Rabbi Pinchas Rotenberg, told Hamodia Monday that Simcha is still traumatized from the incident.
“He was really scared in the days after the robbery,” Rabbi Rotenberg said. “It got a little better last week, but today, when the news came out of the arrest, he’s scared again. He’s asking, ‘Are they going to let the man out? Is he going to come after me?'”
The stolen scooter had actually belonged to Simcha’s 14-year-old special-needs brother, who is currently away in camp. Simcha used to enjoy riding his brother’s scooter alone, Rabbi Rottenberg said, but now is afraid to do so unless someone is watching him.
Despite the trauma, Simcha has grown quite attached to his birthday gift, Rabbi Rotenberg said. “I’m going to have to get his brother a new scooter.”
Video of Daniel Ufares being led out of the 66th Precinct station below:
Video of the theft below:
Updated Tuesday, July 20, 2021 at 5:22 pm .