Authors Posts by Desirée Keegan

Desirée Keegan

Desirée Keegan
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Brandon Lesser’s mugshot. Photo from SCPD

After receiving a call from a victim who became suspicious about the authenticity of his purchased tickets on the app Letgo, 1st Precinct crime section officers conducted an undercover operation.

The officers arranged to meet the seller, Brandon Lesser, in the parking lot of Ragazzi Italian Kitchen and Bar, located at 2950 Middle Country Road in Nesconset, to purchase two Billy Joel concert tickets for $350. Lesser allegedly sold the undercover officer the same tickets — floor section D, Row 2, seats 5 and 6 — for the July 28 show at Madison Square Garden that he sold to the victim who initially contacted the police. Police arrested Lesser and transported him to the 1st Precinct.

Lesser, 24, of Centereach, was charged with two counts of second-degree petit larceny and scheme to defraud.

He is scheduled to be arraigned at 1st District Court in Central Islip July 31.

Police are asking anyone who might have been a victim of this scam to contact 1st Precinct crime section officers at 631-854-8126.

David Michels mugshot. Photo from SCPD

By Desirée Keegan

Suffolk County police arrested a man for an alleged DWI after a traffic stop in Centereach in which there were three 14-year-old female passengers in the vehicle.

David Michels was driving a 2010 Toyota Corolla northbound on Stanley Drive when he was stopped for a traffic violation at approximately 6:30 p.m. May 24.

Michels, 46, of Centereach, was arrested and charged with allegedly driving while intoxicated, aggravated driving while intoxicated with a child passenger 15 years old or younger (Leandra’s Law) and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

The three 14-year-old passengers were released to family members at the scene.

Michels was held overnight at the 6th Precinct.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County police arrested a Lake Grove man May 23 for driving with more than 40 license suspensions.

Highway patrol officer Matthew White pulled over a 2003 Nissan on westbound Sunrise Highway, near Connetquot Avenue, at approximately 8:25 a.m. after he observed the vehicle was missing a front license plate. Officer White determined the driver, James Tomassi, was driving with a license that had been suspended 41 times.

Tomassi, 36, was charged with first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and operating while registration suspended/revoked. His vehicle was impounded and he was arraigned today at 1st District Court in Central Islip.

Meaghan Tyrrell has put the team on her back before.

With Mount Sinai down 5-4 at halftime, Tyrrell lifted her stick high above her head and sent her shot over visiting Rocky Point’s goalkeeper for the go-ahead goal, her second straight to start the second half, in the Mustangs 6-5 Class C semifinal win May 22.

As she pulled down her arms, with them, the weight came crashing down.

“Being down is always a stressful situation. We needed to remain composed. We knew each draw counted. Once the opportunity presented itself, I took it.”

— Meaghan Tyrrell

“Relief,” the Syracuse University-bound senior said of how she felt following the score. “Being down is always a stressful situation. We needed to remain composed. We knew each draw counted. Once the opportunity presented itself, I took it. I knew this was where our momentum would build.”

Senior Gabby Sartori scored on a free position goal to put Mount Sinai ahead 6-4. Tyrrell won six draw controls and Morgan Mitchell (one goal, two assists) won three.

Mitchell, a junior, is following in the footsteps of Kasey, her older sister, who just finished her freshman year on the No. 1-ranked Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team.

“I kept working and working, and my sister helped tremendously,” Morgan Mitchell said. “I felt comfortable, I changed things up — push and then pull to myself.”

She didn’t start the season at the draw circle after banging her knee and missing scrimmages, but she’s been impressing others.

“She’s one of the brightest spots this season so far,” head coach Al Bertolone said. “She’s done a tremendous job all season. Since we got her back it’s been full steam ahead.”

Mitchell was working hard in the first half, scoring the first goal and assisting on the next two as Mount Sinai went up 3-0 early. Senior Meaghan Scutaro made back-to-back stops on defense to keep Rocky Point at bay.

“It gets our momentum going when defense gets good stops like that,” she said. “We were looking to take away their key players — Maddy Sanchez, Bri Lamoureux, Christina Bellisimo — take their midfield out
of the game, but it became a really tight one.”

“It’s a boarder war. One thing about intensity is you have to match it.”

— Al Bertolone

Bellisimo (three goals, one assist) scored twice, once with the help of Sanchez, and assisted on another during the Eagles’ four-score streak that put them up 4-3 at halftime. Mount Sinai, which turned the ball over 10 times, made most of its errors in the first half.

“It’s a boarder war,” Bertolone said. “One thing about intensity is you have to match it. We started off great but we let them back into it and we had to try to get what we wanted to do going. We weren’t smart with the ball in the first half, but in the second half we were smarter.”

The head coach said it was a good test as the team enters the Suffolk County Class C title game against No. 3 Westhampton May 31 at Hauppauge High School at 3 p.m.

“It was a wet, sloppy day, but you have to win on a day like today if you want to win a championship,” Bertolone said. “Our program, our tradition has put us in position. We’re right there.”

High school educational component created to combat teen drunk and districated driving, opioid abuse

A public service announcement, titled “Hey Charlie,” highlights the progression of drug addiction and encourages those struggling with substance abuse to seek treatment. Video from Suffolk County District Attorney’s office

With graduation approaching comes a new outreach program to keep kids safe.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced an initiative aimed at educating high school students and their parents on the dangers of impaired and reckless driving May 14. The program, Choices and Consequences, is described as a dynamic, engaging presentation that is provided by assistant district attorneys and detectives assigned to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s Vehicular Crime Bureau.

“Whether it’s texting and driving, drinking or doing drugs and driving, these decisions can be fatal,” Sini said. “The Choices and Consequences program drives that message home to teens and their parents by using real-life examples that unfortunately have changed lives forever, have taken lives from us prematurely and have devastated victims’ families and friends here in Suffolk County.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death for people in the United States between 15 and 24 years old is motor vehicle crashes. In Suffolk County, the leading causes of motor vehicle crashes are impaired driving and reckless or distracted driving.

During Sini’s tenure as Suffolk County police commissioner, motor vehicle crashes within the police district were reduced by more than 30 percent as a result of a multi-pronged enforcement effort to increase traffic safety.

“It’s a terrific opportunity for schools to be on the cutting edge of education and prevention. There are a lot of presentations out there, but I guarantee that if you sit through this presentation, it will impact your life and the way you make decisions.” — Tim Sini

“I’m proud to say that the Suffolk County Police Department and its partners have been successful in reducing motor vehicle crashes that result in serious physical injuries or fatalities, but enforcement is just one piece of our approach,” Sini said. “We need to educate — we need to raise awareness of making bad decisions behind the wheel.”

The Choices and Consequences program is based on a presentation created in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and later adopted by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. It comprises facts and statistics on impaired and reckless driving; interactive skits that show how police officers respond to motor vehicle crash scenes and detect impairment; and demonstrations of the impacts of alcohol and drugs on motor skills.

In partnership with the Long Island Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence, the scope of the effort has been expanded to educate participants about the dangers of substance use in an effort to combat the opioid epidemic.

LICADD, in conjunction with the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation, a family charitable foundation concentrated on alcohol use disorder and addiction, and on educating the public that addiction is a medical illness, recently released a public service announcement, titled “Hey Charlie,” that highlights the progression of drug addiction and encourages those struggling with substance abuse to seek treatment.

“LICADD is proud to partner with the district attorney’s office as it takes the lead in making sure that this life-saving education is provided to every student and every parent in Suffolk County,” said Steve Chassman, executive director of LICADD. “It’s so important when dealing with a disease that is potentially preventable to get this message out in every Long Island school. This is how we are going to turn the corner on this epidemic.”

Sini invited school districts and community groups across Suffolk County to participate in the program by emailing InfoDA@suffolkcountyny.gov or calling 631-853-5602.

“We have proms, graduations and the summer months coming up, so it’s the perfect time for schools to invite us in to provide this presentation,” Sini said. “It’s a terrific opportunity for schools to be on the cutting edge of education and prevention. There are a lot of presentations out there, but I guarantee that if you sit through this presentation, it will impact your life and the way you make decisions. It is that powerful.”

After first-round bye Mustangs face No. 5 Rocky Point today at home at 4 p.m.

The visiting Mustangs galloped onto the field like it was a playoff game — knowing they needed to win to earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. But Mattituck’s girls lacrosse team made them work for it.

With the game tied 8-8 heading into overtime, Mount Sinai sophomore Morgan Mitchell dished the ball to senior Gabby Sartori, who netted what would end up being the game winner with two minutes remaining. Mitchell had lent a helping hand all afternoon May 12, ending the 9-8 victory with a goal and five assists. A handful of them helped senior Camryn Harloff tally a hat trick, in a game that won Mount Sinai a share of the Division II title with Bayport-Blue Point (both 13-1).

Mount Sinai’s Camryn Harloff, on left in a previous game against Rocky Point, scored four goals in the Mustangs’ regular-season finale. File photo by Bill Landon

“I wasn’t really thinking about scoring, I just knew we had to get the job done whether it was me or someone else,” Harloff said. “It definitely feels nice to win the division, but that’s just one piece of the bigger picture — we want another state title.”

Mount Sinai has won three straight Class C crowns, and a large group on the current squad have consistently helped get there.

Senior Meaghan Tyrrell, who is second among all Suffolk scorers with 49 goals and 36 assists, said despite a shaky start against Mattituck, her teammates always know how to pull together in crucial contests.

“I believe draw controls led our team to victory, with Morgan [Mitchell] playing really well both on the draw circle and in the offensive zone,” said Tyrrell, who finished with a goal and two assists. Mitchell ended the game with six draw controls. “We play smart under pressure.”

Twin sisters, senior defenders Kirsten and Meaghan Scutaro, have also been fixtures.

“They hold us together like glue,” Harloff said. “The offense puts up the points we need, buy they are the key aspects to this team because defense is our foundation.”

Sartori and senior Jenny Markey added two goals each in the final regular-season game.

As the No. 1 seed, the Mustangs had a first-round bye, and will face neighboring Rocky Point, the No. 5 seed, at home today, May 22, at 4 p.m.

Harloff said she is anxious to try to make a run at her fourth and final state title.

“We definitely feel a target, but we don’t focus on that — we go day by day,” Harloff said. “We’re not going to be complacent, but we are confident.”

Shoreham-Wading River High School. File photo

Shoreham-Wading River voters have overwhelmingly approved the district’s $74,776,072 budget with 790 voting in favor and 233 against.

Turnout compared to last year’s vote took a significant downturn, as more than 2,000 taxpayers came out to vote last May.

“The district is grateful to the community for their overwhelming support of the proposed budget,” Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Poole said. “With the voter’s approval, this budget will bring a number of educational enhancements and new programs that will continue to prepare our students to achieve great outcomes in today’s ever evolving world. I look forward to our district’s continued progress and welcome our newly elected Board member Mr. Smith and congratulate Mr. Rose on his re-election to the board.”

Rose won back his seat with 772 votes.

“I’m most proud of the bond that was passed several years ago and improvements that have been taking place at all of our buildings,” said Rose, who will be serving his third term. “I’m very fortunate and I’m looking forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the board and the superintendent to continue to make Shoreham-Wading River a great district.”

James Smith ran unopposed and nabbed 767 votes. He will be taking the place of first-year trustee Michael Yannucci, who did not seek re-election.

“I appreciate Mike’s service and the amount of time he has given to the community and the district,” Rose said. “I respect his decision to not run again.”

Yannucci decided to not run again so he could spend more time with his children.

“Despite the fact that we have an uncontested board election this year, residents should continue to stay engaged and attend board meetings,” Yannucci said. His advice to the rest of the board upon leaving was they should look to engage and communicate with district residents. “Even if they don’t have kids in school, their taxes are still affected by our decisions.”

Smith, who ran last year unsuccessfully, has been a Shoreham resident for the past six years and in that time has not hesitated to get involved in the community. The father of four children in the district, he joined the PTA and became its vice president. He has worked with kids as a coach through Sound Beach Soccer Club and Father Joe’s Soccer. Smith said he wants to push for greater psychological and emotional resources for students.

“I’m excited and optimistic — really looking forward to utilizing my professional and personal experience to strengthen our district,” he said. “My goal is to absorb as much as i can especially in the first year. As a district we have a young board of ed who all are very active within our community. I am looking forward to being a part of that for as long as our community stakeholders allow me. This is a way that I can continue to give back to a district that has done so much for my children.”

Trustee Mike Riggio, above on right, is congratulated by current board of ed president Lynn Capobianco after it was announced he won his second term. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Instead of three, there’s four cheers for Mount Sinai School District, as all four of the board of education’s propositions passed with flying colors.

Residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of the $60,203,745 budget, with 769 voting yes and 193 no. The library budget received even more support on an 849-116 landslide. Receiving the second-highest voter approval was Proposition III, which will transfer $5 million from an unassigned fund balance to the capital fund to start immediate critical facility improvements, with 787 voting in favor and 176 against. The capital projects that will immediately be tackled are repairs to the high school roof, replacement of the turf field and the hardening of campus security, mainly through fencing in the entire campus.

Proposition I [Budget]: 769-193

Proposition II [Library]: 849-116

Proposition III [Capital Project]: 787-176

Proposition IV [Reserve Fund]: 761-199

“I’m ecstatic, especially to see the community support,” Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said. “I was concerned about Proposition III — these are things we absolutely need and couldn’t wait for a bond to do. Even if it were approved tomorrow it would take two years, and our one turf field could be condemned tomorrow.”

He said replacing the roof is of the utmost importance though, noting the issues seen each time it rains, like it did on the day of the budget vote May 15, with wind and heavy rain ravaging the North Shore as a storm rapidly passed.

“I’d hate to see the picture of what it looks like tomorrow,” the superintendent said. “It’s a disaster every time it rains.”

Other security improvements in addition to the fencing, included paying for armed guards and adding security vestibules at the entrances to the campus and adding more patrol routes for security personnel near the new fencing along the perimeter of the schools, among others.

“Ever since that tragedy Feb. 14 we’ve taken measurements necessary to keep our students safe,” Brosdal said, referring to the shooting in Parkland, Florida. “When these schools were first built alongside each other we never thought this would happen, so we will take the appropriate steps so that come the fall this will look like a different campus. There’s no fluff — this is all needed.”

Proposition IV was given the green light 761-199, which transfers money from fund balances to establish a $10 million capital reserve fund.

“If we have emergency repairs that are needed, now we can plan to pay for them,” trustee Mike Riggio said. “It’s a home run. And the best thing is it’s not costing our taxpayers any more money.”

Votes are counted in Mount Sinai. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Riggio, who was re-elected to the board with 747 votes, said he’s looking forward to serving another term.

“I understand much better what my role is in everything that we have to do and I’m ready,” he said. “I ran focused on security three years ago and I’m still focused on that and the fiscal stability of the district. People are losing their jobs, programs are being cut elsewhere, and we don’t want that to happen here. You have to budget right and be fiscally sound into the future.”

Board President Lynn Capobianco, who chose not to seek re-election to focus on family, was sad to see the voter turnout.

“It’s so light — under 1,000 and we usually have 1,400 or 1,500,” she said. “Perhaps it was the weather, the uncontested board or the budget being under the tax cap, but I am disappointed in the low voter turnout.”

The president said she’s proud of some of her accomplishments during her tenure — like seeing through the establishment of a full-day kindergarten program and the Columbia Reading and Columbia Writing programs, and said she’d like to see the creation of a science research or robotics program.

Steve Koepper, who ran unopposed for her seat on the board of education, received 651 votes.

“I felt now was a good time to offer more of my volunteer time in service to educational process to help shape the future of Mount Sinai schools,” said Koepper, an 18-year resident, in a previous interview. The father of two previously volunteered on the district’s bond committee. “There are problems like declining enrollment that need to be looked at, and I’m here so that we can work together and move forward.”

Olivia Carner competing in the Suffolk County championship last year against Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon

By Desirée Keegan

All season long, Northport’s girls lacrosse team has shown it can handle the pressure, and Friday was no different.

Olivia Carner had three goals and three assists and Emerson Cabrera added four goals and one assist
to lead Northport to a 15-9 win over crosstown rival Huntington May 11 and complete the program’s first perfect season since 2009.

Emerson Cabrera ompeting in the Suffolk County championship last year against Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon

“It feels good to go undefeated — the girls have been working extremely hard and have stayed focused all season,” said head coach Carol Rose of her 16-0 Tigers. “It’s not easy to go undefeated — the pressure can be overwhelming, but this group handled the pressure all season with poise, grit and determination. I love seeing them be successful because this group has earned the title ‘undefeated division champions.’”

Northport came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, building up a 9-1 advantage over the Blue Devils by the halftime break. Carner said the team’s closeness has led to this year’ successes.

“Throughout the season our team has become closer and closer — knowing how much potential we have,” she said. “We all play for one another and work well as a team. We all want each other to do whatever it takes to win.”

The team’s leading scorer credited its strong bond for her own personal accomplishments this season.

“It felt great being able to contribute to our wins and is easy to do so because our team is so close and we all want to achieve the same goal,” said Carner, who leads all Suffolk scorers with 64 goals and 25 assists. “When the final whistle blew it was an awesome feeling of pride knowing all our hard work had paid off and we were finishing undefeated.”

She said with an undefeated season and as the No. 1 seed, she knows her team has a target on its back, but said the Tigers will work that much harder this postseason to prove they’re where they belong.

“We’re motivated and determined this time around, especially knowing so many teams are looking to beat us.”

— Danielle Pavinelli

“We want to get back to that county title game,” she said.

Northport lost 13-3 to Middle Country in 2017, ending a 13-5 season in the county finals. Senior Danielle Pavinelli, who is the second Tiger in the top 10 in the county in scoring, coming in at No. 9 with 46 goals and 25 assists, said she only sees her team continuing to thrive this time around.

As the top team Northport earns a first-round bye. The Tigers will take No. 8 Sachem East Saturday, May 19, at the local Veterans Park at 11 a.m.

“We’re motivated and determined this time around, especially knowing so many teams are looking to beat us,” Pavinelli said. “I believe we will be able to handle whatever teams throw at us in playoffs. We’re the closest we’ve ever been — we treat each other like family and we’re always looking out for each other. Each and every one of us understands how hard we have to play in order to go far.”

She attributed much of the team’s success and will to win to Rose, who eclipsed 800 career victories this season.

“She encourages us every day to be the best we can be,” Pavinelli said. “And we owe this season to her.”

Playoff game suspended due to inclement weather with No. 2 West Islip ahead 4-1

Third baseman Matty Maurer hurls the ball to first base. Photo by Desirée Keegan

A stroke of lightning might be what Ward Melville’s baseball team needed to turn things around.

First baseman Ryan Hynes reaches for a high throw in time to get the out. Photo by Desirée Keegan

With rain, thunder and lightning delaying the No. 7 Patriots’ second-round playoff game against host No. 2 West Islip May 15, it also ends the Lions’ one-run-per-inning scoring streak, with the two teams resuming
play May 16 at 4 p.m., barring no additional weather setbacks. West Islip held a 4-1 lead when play was suspended.

“We played uncharacteristically poorly on defense,” Ward Melville head coach Lou Petrucci said. “And it cost us.”

Ward Melville started the bottom of the inning off strong, with junior Max Nielsen smacking an RBI-single to shallow right center field on a 3-2 count to score senior Brady Doran from second.

“I knew either it was going to be a ball by a long shot or he was going to give me an easy pitch to just flick into the outfield, and he gave me just that,” Nielsen said discussing his discipline at the plate. “My approach was to simply put the ball in a hole somewhere. When I saw Brady [Doran] score I knew that it was going to be a good game.”

Petrucci said he expects that from one of his star starting pitchers and designated hitter.

“He’s been doing that all year,” the coach said. “Max had a big hit right there, and we need more of that from other guys, too. Baseball’s not a one-man show. Max did his job, but we have to come back the next inning and shut them down, and we didn’t do it.”

Max Nielsen races to first base. Photo by Desirée Keegan

West Islip answered with a ground-rule double, a bunt and a sacrifice fly to tie the score, 1-1. A grounder to third ended the inning, but Ward Melville came up empty over the next three innings while West Islip scored once in each. The Patriots also couldn’t cash in despite loading the bases in the top of the third with two outs.

“We came up empty a few times with runners in scoring position, but it’s hard adjusting and sitting back against a pitcher who is throwing low-to-mid 70s,” Nielsen said. “On the defensive side of things, we had a few hops and plays that didn’t go our way, so that’s baseball for ya. We knew that West Islip was going to be a tough team to beat, but we know that we can beat them. We wanted to get ahead early and really get into their bullpen.”

Ward Melville will dive into its bullpen, with the pitch count rules leaving both starters ineligible to return to the mound for the remainder of the suspended game. Matt DiGennaro will come out of the bullpen to replace Ethan Farino for the Patriots.

“I don’t know who they’re going to use, but I can’t worry about them, I have to worry about Ward Melville,” Petrucci said. “We’ve had the right hitters up, but we couldn’t get the big hits. Hopefully with a day change we’ll get these opportunities again and try to put some good swings on the ball. We have to see if we can fight back.”

Second baseman Logan Doran tosses the ball to first base.

Nielsen said the team has been in tough hitting situations before, and Petrucci added players have struggled all year with two-out production, and that was the case through most of the day. The head coach said he told his boys following the postponement that the plays West Islip made gave them a 4-1 lead, and the plays the Patriots didn’t make helped Ward Melville to a 4-1 deficit.

“Offensively we’ve struggled all year with two-out hitting — now it’s a playoff game and we’re doing it again,” Petrucci said. “Hopefully we can make up for it over the next three innings. The season’s not over — we’ve had a great one, the kids have played hard all year, we just have to continue to play hard for the next nine outs and see where the chips fall.”

Results from the second part of the suspended game were not available at press time May 16.

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