Authors Posts by Sara-Megan Walsh

Sara-Megan Walsh

Sara-Megan Walsh
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East Northport volunteer firefighters responded to fire at a cemetery this past Saturday.

The East Northport Fire Department received numerous calls Feb. 23 reporting flames coming out of a maintenance building on the grounds of Genola Rural Cemetery off Laurel Road at approximately 1:30 p.m., according to fire department spokesman Steve Silverman.

Volunteer firefighters arriving on the scene found a one-story building fully engulfed in flames and began to aggressively attack the blaze. It took approximately 60 firefighters using eight trucks under the direction of Assistant Chiefs Tom Bourne and Steve Macedonio to bring the fire
under control within 40 minutes.

Both the Northport and Greenlawn fire departments assisted by providing additional apparatus and volunteer firefighters. Cyanide Response Team paramedics from the Dix Hills Fire Department responded to the scene in case of injuries from smoke inhalation. The Commack Fire Department and volunteer ambulance corps provided standby coverage during the alarm.

The fire appears to be accidental in origin, according to Silverman. It is under investigation by the Town of Huntington fire marshal. There were no injuries reported, but the cemetery’s maintenance building was extensively damaged.

Photo from Flickr/David Rodriguez Martin

St. James residents were surprised to hear a shotgun go off the evening of Feb. 23. The gun was aimed at the sky, but instead of shooting at birds, a man was aiming at an unmanned drone.

Members of Missing Angels-Long Island, a Bay Shore-based organization that searches for missing pets, were using a drone to search for a missing dog named Dezi in the St. James area, according to a Facebook post.

Suffolk County police said Gerard Chasteen, 26, of St. James allegedly fired three shots into the air in a residential area, striking the drone at around 4:45 p.m.

Chasteen was charged with third-degree criminal mischief and prohibited use of a weapon after an investigation by Suffolk police. Multiple shotguns were also confiscated from the residence. Chasteen was issued a field appearance ticket and was to be arraigned at a later date.

Missing Angels did not respond to requests for comment. But Facebook posts from the organization show Dezi was found and returned home the next day, Feb. 24.

The drone used, a Mavic 2 Zoom model, is valued at about $1,500 online, depending on configurations and accessories. Unmanned drones have seen a surge of popularity in recent years, and some 7 million drones are expected to fly over American skies by 2020, according to the Federal Aviation Association. A drone is considered an unmanned aircraft, according to Suffolk County law.

In response to the Feb. 23 incident, members of Missing Angels started a fundraiser the next day on Facebook to replace the destroyed drone. Within the first two days the fundraiser reached its goal of $1,500 to replace the drone. Organizers extended the fundraiser to $1,900 to cover the expenses for a universal microchip scanner. The group has now raised more than $2,100 for a new drone.

The organization said on a Facebook post these pieces of equipment are important to continue to help search and track pets on Long Island.

Northport power plant. File photo

The Town of Huntington and Long Island Power Authority have finally made their opening statements in a court trial that has been more than eight years in the making.

Huntington town officials, LIPA and National Grid are presenting their arguments over the proper tax-assessed value of the Northport Power Station beginning Feb. 25 before Justice Elizabeth Emerson at Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverhead.

LIPA filed its tax certiorari case over the assessed property tax valuation of the Northport plant in 2010 seeking to reduce its annual taxes by 90 percent, in addition to repayment of all taxes it claims to have overpaid since 2010 — currently more than $550 million.

It doesn’t differ all that much from when you grieve your property taxes, but this is on a much bigger scale.”

— Nick Ciappetta

Huntington Town Attorney Nick Ciappetta said all parties have agreed to start with the bench trial, decided solely by Emerson, by challenging the taxes paid on the plant in 2014.

“Even though they have filed petitions to challenge every year beginning in 2011, they have to file petitions individually for each year,” the town attorney said.

Ciappetta said that the burden of proof to demonstrate that the Town of Huntington tax assessor’s assessed value of the plant was incorrect lies with the utility company. LIPA will need to provide documents and expert testimony that convinces the judge that Huntington was in error, according to the town attorney.

“It doesn’t differ all that much from when you grieve your property taxes, but this is on a much bigger scale,” Ciappetta said.

LIPA started the trial with its opening statement and by calling on two expert witnesses for testimony Feb. 25. The Huntington town attorney said he expected the utility company to call on two additional expert witnesses to the stand to testify on its behalf before the town responds.

“We feel good about our position and that LIPA will not be able to sustain their burden,” Ciappetta said. “They have an appraisal that makes the plant seem as if it is worthless. That plant is vital to Long Island’s power grid.”

The Huntington town attorney said the town’s legal arguments will highlight how the Northport Power Station is unique given its “ideal location” and several factors, including its ability to operate based on either gas or oil, and is believed to be fundamental to meeting electrical demands during severe weather events.

We feel good about our position and that LIPA will not be able to sustain their burden.”

— Nick Ciappetta

The trial is open to the public and any who wish to observe the proceedings or listen to the arguments are welcome to the Riverhead court room, located at 1 Court St.

LIPA did not respond to request for comment on the ongoing court proceedings.

Ciappetta previously stated although the Town of Brookhaven settled its case with LIPA earlier this year, he does not believe that agreement will have any impact on Huntington’s case.

While six months of mediation between the town, LIPA and National Grid under their hired third-party arbitrator attorney Marty Scheinman has not yet resulted in a settlement, it remains a probable outcome according to Ciappetta.

“There’s always the possibility it will settle,” he said.

The court trial proceedings, if not wrapped up this week, will continue in April.

Huntington High School. File photo

Exactly two months after a New York Times Magazine article about the deportation of a Honduran immigrant rocked the Huntington school community, Suffolk County Police Department and Suffolk County school superintendents have agreed on a job description for school resource officers.

Kenneth Bossert, president of Suffolk County Schools Superintendents Association, said his organization has been diligently working hand-in-hand with Suffolk police to craft the one-page document that sets out a 19-point bullet list outlining the roles and responsibilities of every school resource officer shared with TBR News Media Feb. 26.

“This document is intended to specify what these roles and responsibilities have been and is in no way intended to modify this existing program, which has achieved much success since it was established decades ago,” read a joint statement issues by Suffolk police and the superintendents association.

Suffolk’s SRO program was established in 1998, but there has never previously been a formal written document outlining the responsibilities of an SRO, according to Bossert. The issue has become a matter of pressing local concern after ProPublica reporter Hannah Dreier wrote in her Dec. 27 article that Huntington’s SRO officer Drew Fiorello was allegedly involved in providing evidence resulting in the deportation of Alex, a Huntington High School student accused of being involved with MS-13.

“[An MOU] is different from a list of roles and responsibilities, it has a legal seriousness to it different from those.”

-Josh Dubnau

“For years, I believed the [school resource officer] was placed there to protect us,” 2016 graduate Savannah Richardson said at Jan. 9 board of education meeting. “I was never aware information shared with the SRO would end up in the hands of ICE.”

At the top of new one-page policy document outlining of an SRO’s responsibilities is, “perform all duties, responsibilities, and lawful requirements of a duly sworn Suffolk County Police Officer.”  This is immediately followed by the directive that SRO officers should, “Forge and maintain effective relationships” with all students and school staff.

Some of the outlined duties and responsibilities set forth in the SRO policy are very broad based and vague in details. For example, “Assist school officials when matters involving law enforcement officers are required” does not give any further explanation but seems open to individual interpretation.

Both Bossert and a police spokesperson made clear the document is not in any way to be construed or taken as a Memorandum of Understanding.

“If any individual district opts to take further action, that would be up to individual board of education and the SCPD,” Bossert said.

Huntington Superintendent James Polansky and the district’s board of education previously promised in a Dec. 28 letter to the community that they would seek an MOU as “such an agreement would establish formal procedural guidelines associated with the SRO position, as well as with information flow and restrictions.”  The superintendent also expressed in January that any MOU would likely need to be individualized per school district.

Polansky did not respond to requests for comments on the new SRO policy outlining the position’s role and responsibilities.

Several requests made by Huntington school district parents, students and community members over the last two months for clear boundaries and restrictions on the SRO’s position are not reflected by the new one-page policy. There is no mention made of SROs receiving required training in areas such as cultural competency or restorative justice practices and nothing regarding privacy of students and their records. Notably, there was no community forum or event provided for residents as was repeatedly requested by Huntington parents and students to give their input on the agreement. 

“This document is intended to specify what these roles and responsibilities have been and is in no way intended to modify this existing program…”

— Joint statement

Huntington parent Josh Dubnau reissued his call for a full Memorandum of Understanding contract as “necessary” between the school district and Suffolk police at the Feb. 25 board of education meeting while wearing a T-shirt that read, “Agents of Change.”

“[An MOU] is different from a handshake agreement, different from a gentleman’s or woman’s agreement,” he said. “It is different from a list of roles and responsibilities, it has a legal seriousness to it different from those.”

Dubnau called for Huntington school administrators to give more specific details on what they have alleged were inaccuracies in the New York Times Magazine piece as well as what steps the district has taken internally to prevent a similar situation from occurring again.

“What internal investigation has taken place to figure out what went wrong and to identify what needs to change?” he asked. “What changes if any have unilaterally been put in place by the school to prevent children from being labeled as gang associated and to provide a process for families to be aware of that and challenge it if it indeed happens. “

Jennifer Hebert, president of Huntington’s board of education, reacted only to tell Dubnau that it was “not the forum to address this.” The board does have a policy of not responding to speaker’s questions during its public comment period. However, no trustee chose to address the issue during a time set aside for closing remarks by board members.

The next Huntington BOE regular business meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 25 at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School.

Hearing set on new parking regulations to increase fines, crackdown enforcement on repeat offenders

The Town of Huntington's municipal parking lot between New and Green streets. File Photo by Rohma Abbas

Huntington residents have been given through April 1 to pay up on overdue parking tickets or face the possibility of stricter enforcement up to and including an immobilization boot.

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) announced the town will be offering a one-time 40 percent discount on the total balance of delinquent parking summonses through April 1, before looking to implement stricter fines and crackdown on violations. The program was proposed by Councilmen Mark Cuthbertson (D) and Ed Smyth (R).

“This is a great opportunity for residents to wipe the slate clean on outstanding parking tickets.”

— Ed Smyth

“Amnesty programs for parking violations have been very successful in communities across the country,” Cuthbertson said. “By offering our residents an amnesty program, it allows the town to reduce the amount owed on violations by 40 percent on all finds and surcharges, giving residents the chance to clear up outstanding debts.”

Currently, residents owe more than $1.8 million in the approximately 4,700 unpaid parking summonses and penalties to the town, according to the supervisor. Letters were mailed out by Feb. 19 to each individual who is eligible to take advantage of the parking violations amnesty program with details of their delinquent summonses and instructions on how to pay. 

“This is a great opportunity for residents to wipe the slate clean on outstanding parking tickets,” Smyth said.

The amnesty program will be one of multipronged approaches the town is taking in attempting to improve parking issues in Huntington. Lupinacci has proposed legislation to amend the town’s traffic code to increase fines for violations, enhance enforcement and help collect on parking violations.

Currently, drivers caught parking their vehicle in one of Huntington’s metered space without paying face a $25 fine. Under Lupinacci’s proposed changes, the same individual would be charged a minimum of $25 up to $75. Similarly, anyone parking in a handicapped spot without a permit could see the penalty jump from a flat $200 per incident up to a maximum of $600.

“If a person pleads guilty, they will get the minimum,” Town Attorney Nick Ciappetta said. “If a person proceeds to trial, the fine will be determined by the hearing officer. If a person fails to enter a plea and a default is imposed, the hearing officer imposes the fine.”

Other proposed changes to the town’s traffic and parking codes will include a requirement that parking summons and tickets be answered within 30 days or face an imposed default judgment, the nonrenewal of their New York State motor vehicle registration and possible immobilization. The resident will also not be allowed to obtain various town-issued permits, such as commuter parking permits or a recreational ID card, until the tickets are cleared up.

“We do believe stronger enforcement will encourage a change in driver behavior and end the abuse of time limits for free parking, both of which we expect to have a positive impact on the parking experience in downtown Huntington,” Lupinacci said.

A public hearing on the proposed traffic code changes is scheduled for the March 5 town board meeting set for 2 p.m.

Huntington resident Dany Smith speaks in favor of allowing short-term rentals like Airbnb. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington residents are split over the town’s attempts to increase regulation on short-term home rentals, like Airbnb, on the matter of safety versus financial security. 

Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) has put forth legislation that proposed to further limit the number of days that a property may be leased as a short-term rental from 120 down to 90. A Feb. 13 public hearing held on the proposed law drew a divided crowd.

“It is a step in the right direction, but we need to go a step further,” Diane Lettieri, of Dix Hills, said.

The safety issues this practice raises are beyond belief.”

— Diane Lettieri

Lettieri said she lives three houses down from 2 Langhans Court in Dix Hills where a man was shot at a party hosted in the backyard of a property that had been rented out in August 2018. She’s had several meetings with Huntington officials asking for short-term rentals through companies like Airbnb, VRBO, Tripping.com and numerous others to be banned for the safety of the community.

“Homeowners renting out rooms is putting strangers in our neighborhoods and inside their homes,” Lettieri said. “The safety issues this practice raises are beyond belief.”

However, homeowners across town have a very different perspective on how short-term rentals through Airbnb can be beneficial in providing security. Cold Spring Harbor resident Philip Giovanelli said he’s hosted guests as his home since the town first addressed the topic nearly two years ago. He added he’s in full compliance with town code.

“Since that first hearing, I’ve turned 65, I’m a senior and I’ve developed a disability,” he said. “I depend on income from Airbnb.”

Giovanelli said his property’s close proximity to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has led to an interesting array of researchers and doctors seeking a temporary place to stay in his residence.

“I would have to restrict a cancer researcher from England or China from staying, saying we have no room as we’ve expended our time, we’re over the limit,” he said. “These people are important to the community and to the rest of the world.

Huntington resident Dany Smith also spoke out in favor of supporting short-term rentals as she hosts guests to help supplement her income. In 2018, Smith said she rented out two rooms in her home for a total for 111 days.

“I read the options for the amendments and I agree with all of them except for one,” she said. “I hope you reconsider the limit from 120 to 90 days.”

Smith is in favor of suggested changes to give code enforcement officers better tools to police these rented abodes and would prevent those hosts found in violation of federal, state or local laws from reapplying for a new short-term rental permit for one year.

I read the options for the amendments and I agree with all of them except for one. I hope you reconsider the limit from 120 to 90 days.”

— Dany Smith

For Justine Aaronson, a Dix Hills resident, the town’s proposed changes still come up short. She presented a petition signed by more than 1,800 residents to the Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia (R).

“We need you to protect children in our residential communities and keep the quality of life for residents who prefer a community feeling, not a motel,” she said.

Aaronson said one of her neighbors can be found advertising a room for rent at $45 a night. She suggested if the town will not ban such behavior, to at least place further limits such as a 14-day minimum stay or no rentals for period of less than 29 days.

While the proposed legislation suggests scaling back a room leased under short-term rentals from 120 to 90 days of a calendar year, there is no minimum or maximum stay. In addition, it does state that a property owner, or host, “may apply to the director for a hardship exemption” around the rules.

The Huntington town council reserved their decision for a later date.

“I’m hoping if this does get amended and we lower the days to 90, we don’t continue lowering the days,” Smith said. “I’ll have to move off Long Island.”

From left, Northport residents Bill Heuer, Jorge Jimenez and Frank Bonomo train for marathons together as the Three Amigos Running Club. Photo from Jorge JImenez

A Northport man is racing to check a box off his bucket list this April.

Jorge Jimenez, 48, can frequently be found running laps through Northport’s streets with two of his neighbors and friends, Frank Bonomo and Bill Heuer. Together, the three make up the unofficial Three Amigos Running Club, training together for marathons and ultra running events.

Jimenez is currently preparing to take part in the Boston Marathon April 15 as part of the YMCA of Greater Boston’s team. In order to do so, he has set a goal of raising $7,500 for its teen programs, far above the minimum contribution of $1,500.

““I wondered if I could do a full marathon, I kind of stumbled into it. It turns out I can.”

—Jorge Jimenez

“I used to spend a lot of time at the YMCA as a kid in elementary and middle school playing basketball and swimming,” Jimenez said. “I want to give back.”

Working by day as PSEG’s director of customer experience and utility marketing, Jimenez said he got started as a runner gradually, first by participating in community 3 and 5-kilometer events. He said he’s run in the Great Cow Harbor 10K several times.

“I wondered if I could do a full marathon, I kind of stumbled into it,” he said. “It turns out I can.”

Jimenez said he enjoys the competitive nature and goal setting required in long-distance running. The father of two pins his workout schedule to the kitchen refrigerator, where he keeps a log of his times, hoping it inspires his son and daughter.

“I like that my children get to see me set a really ambitious goal and get there,” he said.

Jimenez tackled 26.2 miles for the first time when he ran the New York City Marathon in fall 2015 before returning in 2016 for a personal best. While he’s enjoyed these experiences, the runner admits there comes a time during a race that he questions his decision to run.

“Miles 20 to 24, that’s where the money is,” he said. “When you are at [mile] 20, you’re in a no man’s land. You’ve been running for two hours, you have 20 miles on your legs and still have six miles to go.”

“When you are at [mile] 20, you’re in a no man’s land. You’ve been running for two hours, you have 20 miles on your legs and still have six miles to go.”

—Jorge Jimenez

But experience has inspired him to create a new line on his “soft bucket list” of competing the six World Marathon Majors — New York, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, London and Tokyo. His 2016 overall time of 4 hours, 40:54 minutes — or an average of pace of 10:43 per mile — isn’t fast enough to qualify. Instead, Jimenez has turned to raising money for a charity to secure a spot at the starting line.

The runner has served on the board of directors for the YMCA of Long Island for the past five years. He said he strongly supports the nonprofit organization’s mission to offer programs and services that nurtures youth and  fosters healthy living and social responsibility. With donations similar to Jimenez’s, the YMCA of Greater Boston was able to give out 17,000 free three-month memberships to teens at its 13 branches and allowed them unlimited access last summer.

“When you run for the Y’s Boston Marathon team, you are raising money to help us give a teen in Greater Boston access to summer programming, swim classes and camp,” James Morton, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater Boston said. “This past summer was our busiest to date with each of our branches creating programming to fit the needs of youth in their neighborhoods, which would not be possible without funds raised by our runners.”

Jimenez is looking forward to the challenge and is planning a trip to Boston ahead of the race. He wants to run the last 15-mile stretch of the course, particularly a hill known to marathoners as Heartbreak Ridge, to know he’s prepared for race day.

“You have to try to do everything you can to prepare yourself,” he said.

Those interested in supporting Jimenez can visit his CrowdRise page at: www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/ymca-boston-2019/jorgejimenez7.

Commack HIgh School. Photo from Google Maps

Suffolk County police officers arrested a man who works as an evening custodian for the Commack School District after a search found he had a stash of illegal guns and drugs inside his Patchogue home.

Patrick Musumeci, 30, was arrested Feb. 6 by police officers and faces 24 drug- and weapons-related charges.

Patrick Musumeci. Photo from SCPD

Following an investigation, Suffolk’s 5th Squad Special Operations Team and Emergency Section Service officers along with 5th Precinct Gang Unit officers executed a search warrant on Musumeci’s home on Wilmarth Avenue at approximately 5:35 a.m.

In the raid, officers found 16 guns inside the Patchogue home, including one Glock semiautomatic handgun, a Taurus semiautomatic handgun and four assault rifles, with ammunition. Two of the guns, a Smith & Wesson pistol and Ruger pistol had both previously been reported stolen. In addition to the guns, officers seized five sets of brass knuckles and a switchblade.

In addition to the weapons, Suffolk County police officers seized quantities of both prescription opiates and illegal drugs from the Patchogue home. The drugs found included oxycodone, Xanax, concentrated cannabis, marijuana, morphine pills and packaging materials.

Musumeci is charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, six counts of criminal possession in the seventh degree, two counts of criminal use of drug paraphernalia in the second degree, criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree, five counts criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, four counts criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree and one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree.

Commack school officials reacted to news of Musumeci’s arrest by posting a letter to district residents on its website.

“The district has found no evidence to date that he ever brought a weapon or drugs onto school property,” reads the district’s statement. “To date, we have not found any suspicious activity on school property.”

Prior to being hired, Musumeci was fingerprinted and underwent a background check by New York State, according to the district. He was cleared, and state law would have required the district to be notified of any subsequent arrests, of which they claim to have received none.

Commack school officials said the district also has conducted an extensive search of the employee lockers, areas of the buildings the evening custodian was responsible for overseeing and reviewed buildingwide video footage in the wake of the allegations.

“The district and its outside security consultant will continue to review its safety and security plans and determine whether or not additional precautions are warranted,” read the district’s statement.

Musumeci was arraigned Feb. 7 in 1st District Court in Central Islip. He was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond, which had not been posted as of Feb. 13.

Commack school officials said their investigation into the matter is ongoing and the district is fully cooperating with the Suffolk police department.

Millers Pond in Smithtown. File photo by Rita J. Egan

Suffolk County’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to those individuals who might be responsible for decapitating six birds found in Smithtown and Great River.

The Town of Smithtown’s Public Safety Department received an anonymous phone call Feb. 4 reporting three dead birds were found near the Maple Avenue and 4th Avenue entrance to Millers Pond County Park, according to town spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo. The public safety officers then immediately notified the Suffolk SCPA.

Roy Gross, chief of the nonprofit animal advocacy group, said his volunteers working in cooperation with Smithtown park rangers and Suffolk County Police Department found the bodies of two chickens and a blue jay that had been beheaded lying next to a bloodied cardboard box.

“People do these animal sacrifices, and it’s absolutely illegal. They will say they are allowed to do it because it’s a religious right. It is not.”

— Roy Gross

The following day, Feb. 5, the SCPA received a report of three decapitated birds, two chickens and a dove, left alongside Wheeler Road in Great River. Gross said additional items left at the site raised questions as to whether the animals’ deaths were ritualistic in nature.

“We’ve had numerous cases over the years,” he said. “It has all the indications of a religious animal sacrifice.”

The SPCA contacted Marcos Quinones, a retired New York police detective of 36 years and renowned occult specialist, on these two cases. Quinones said he has worked with law enforcement officials at federal, state and local levels on various causes related to occult matters.

“Santeria is a nature-based religion, and it varies based on what god or goddess you worship, each has an element of nature they are thought to control,” he said. “If you needed something from them, you would do a ritual.”

Quinones said based on the location of the six birds’ bodies and items left with them, he believes the birds were killed elsewhere and brought to the pond as a religious offering for Oshun, goddess of the rivers and lakes.

“Santeria is basically a good, nature-based religion, but sometimes people take something good and misuse it,” the occult expert said. “You have to ask yourself what’s the purpose of this ritual?”

Under New York State law, to kill an animal without any intention to consume it is illegal, according to Gross.

“People do these animal sacrifices, and it’s absolutely illegal,” he said. “They will say they are allowed to do it because it’s a religious right. It is not.”

In February 2018, the Suffolk SPCA found the bodies of two hens frozen in the ice at Millers Pond. Gross said the chickens’ heads were found a short distance away, but it was originally thought that other animals may have ripped it apart from the body as potential food.

“We canvassed the area to see if anyone had chickens that were lost,” the chief said. “We did a thorough investigation but couldn’t get any information on it.”

“If there’s an arrest and conviction, that’s a check I’m happy to write.”

— Roy Gross

Gross said twice the SPCA has found a cow’s tongue nailed to a tree across from Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River. Upon further investigation, SPCA volunteers discovered candle wax, pins and nine slips of paper bearing individual names had been inserted inside the cow’s tongue, according to Gross. Another time the cow’s tongue was attached by a fishing lure and left out with a bowl of livestock feed as an offering.

“Imagine if a child had come along and grabbed it or seen something like that,” Gross said. “It’s bad enough for an adult, walking along and seeing a tongue hanging from a tree or a beheaded animal. It’s barbaric and should not exist in this day and age.”

If an arrest is made, Gross said the individual will face misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty to wildlife or farm life, which carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for each offense.

The SPCA is asking anyone who may have information related to the recent discoveries in Smithtown and Great River to contact the nonprofit organization at 631-382-7722. All calls are confidential.

“If there’s an arrest and conviction, that’s a check I’m happy to write,” Gross said.

Nissequogue River. File photo by Rita J. Egan

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is calling for state police officers to investigate who is behind anti-Semitic graffiti discovered in Nissequogue River State Park.

A photo of the swastika discovered in Nissequogue River State Park. Photo from NYS PD

New York State police received a call Feb. 10 from a jogger who discovered a swastika and a hateful white supremacist slogan written in chalk along the bike path in Kings Park.

“This abhorrent act of hate is deeply disturbing, especially at a time of great division and in the wake of the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in this nation’s history,” Cuomo said.

The governor’s remarks referenced the shooting at The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018 that killed 11 people.

“The message is deeply troubling to those who live in Kings Park community and all those who continue the fight against hated,” state Sen. John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) said in a statement. “I want to make it clear that all elected officials and community leaders are united in saying that hateful symbols must never be tolerated and those responsible must and will be held accountable for their actions.

The state police’s Hate Crimes Unit is investigating the matter. Anyone who may have any information on the vandalism is asked to call 631-756-3300.