Courts

DA to recommend maximum prison term

Maureen Myles. Photo from Suffolk DA's office

An East Northport woman has been convicted of stealing $30,000 meant to fund a van with a wheelchair lift for a Huntington teen with cerebral palsy.

Maureen Myles, 62, was convicted on Friday of grand larceny, scheme to defraud and petit larceny following a seven-day trial in Central Islip, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota’s office. DA detective-investigators arrested Myles in December 2013 for making off with the money, which donors raised at a benefit dinner in Northport.

The DA’s office said State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho found Myles guilty of one count of third-degree grand larceny, two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, scheme to defraud and petit larceny.

Myles was previously convicted of a felony — in 2004, a jury found her guilty of grand larceny and scheme to defraud, for buying $40,000 worth of Bermuda cruise tickets using credit card numbers she stole from her employer, according to the DA.

Spota said the office will recommend the maximum prison term of three and a half to seven years when Myles is sentenced on Sept. 2.

Myles’ attorney, Garden City-based Richard Benson, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on Monday.

Chad Morizsan pleads guilty to charges

Suffolk County Police Officer Nicholas Guerrero is released from Stony Brook University Hospital and transported to a rehab center. File photo by Barbara Donlon

A Northport man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to running down two Suffolk County police officers last year and critically injuring one of them.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said that Chad Morizsan, who was sentenced on Thursday, July 23, waived his right to appeal and pleaded guilty to assault in the first degree, assault on a police officer, leaving the scene, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, robbery in the second degree and forgery.

Last September, Morizsan sped off in a stolen SUV after being pulled over by officers Nicholas Guerrero and Heriberto Lugo at a traffic stop. He struck both officers as he fled the scene, critically injuring Guerrero.

Chad Morizsan. Photo from SCPD
Chad Morizsan. Photo from SCPD

Bob Clifford, a spokesman for Spota, said Guerrero was in the courtroom at Morizsan’s sentencing.

Guerrero was hospitalized for more than three weeks with a severe head injury at Stony Brook University Hospital. He underwent surgery and a regimen of physical therapy during his recovery.

He has been with the police department for four years. His partner, Lugo, was treated and released.

Once Morizsan fled the scene, along with his co-defendant and passenger Nicholas Franzone of Northport, police said they carjacked a Ford Explorer, stole the credit cards of the 87-year-old owner of the Explorer in her Commack driveway and stole gas from a gas station in the area.

The two were arrested at a Central Islip store hours later when police said they attempted to purchase a television with the woman’s stolen credit card.

Attorney Ian Fitzgerald, who is representing Franzone, has said that Franzone had nothing to do with the hit-and-run.

“He was in the back seat of the car,” Fitzgerald said in a previous interview. “He had nothing to do with Mr. Morizsan fleeing and injuring the officer … he had no control over the vehicle.”

Franzone is set to return to court on Aug. 4, charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle for his alleged role in the carjacking incident, police said.

Daniel Guttmann, who is listed in online court records as Morizsan’s attorney, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on Tuesday.

Man on village bench has worn many hats over the years

Justice Peter Graham has served Port Jefferson for more than 30 years. Photo by Talia Amorosano

By Talia Amorosano

When he entered a seminary at age 14, Port Jefferson Village Justice Peter Graham had no idea he would eventually study law, let alone hold a gavel or ever be referred to as “your honor.”

But after four years of training to become a priest, instead of the voice of God it was the voice of singer Hoagy Carmichael through his bedroom window, delivering a message about “a gal who’s mighty sweet, with big blue eyes and tiny feet,” that resonated with him. It was then that Graham decided to abandon this path in favor of one that did not necessarily encompass what he referred to as “the two Cs”: chastity and celibacy.
He traded in his cassock for textbooks, studying biology and chemistry in college and completing law school.

But instead of heading straight for the courtroom, Graham enlisted in the U.S. Army.

“When I finished law school, I felt that I owed my country two years of my life,” Graham said.

He enlisted as a private and refused to receive a commission.

“For 16 weeks they gave me infantry basic training,” he said. “I ran all day. … On the last day [of basic training], I walked 26 miles alone. I was frustrated.”

Just when things seemed low, an unexpected opportunity arrived in the form of a long plane ride to Germany and a short conversation.

“You went to law school, right?” asked a colonel, according to Graham. Before he knew it, he was declared the district attorney of his battalion. Riding on the reassuring words of the colonel — “Don’t make a mistake” — Graham worked on murder, assault and rape cases and gained real experience in the field he had previously only studied.

A particularly interesting case, the justice said, involved a woman who Graham believes murdered her husband, an Army major. Graham had jurisdiction over the case and tried to get her convicted. However, the Supreme Court eventually ruled it could not convict because the defendant was not enlisted. To this day, Graham does not know what became of her.

Despite that situation, “I learned so much [about law] from being in the Army.”

All these years later, and after spending more than 25 years on Port Jefferson Village’s bench, Graham still practices law and specializes in criminal and civil law. As a village justice, a role to which he was recently re-elected for another term of service, he remains diligent about informing himself of the latest policies and practices.

He also keeps an eye on changes in his community — he emphasized the importance of maintaining an awareness of what’s going on in the area and said doing his job helps to keep him alert to the needs of the people. But he stayed away from patting himself on the back.

“All I do is try to be fair to the people,” he said. “I want to make sure they understand what the charge is and what their alternative is.”

Graham’s ability to make people feel comfortable in the courtroom may have something to do with the friendly treatment he gets in out-of-work environments. He said what is most rewarding about being a village justice is “the respect you see on the street. … I’ve been around so long that people are saying hello to me and I don’t even know who they are.”

In addition to praising his community, Graham spoke highly of his colleagues.

About fellow Justice Jack Riley, Graham said he is on the same page about how to handle people in the courtroom. Of Village Court Clerk Christine Wood, with whom he has worked for almost 11 years, he said,

“She does phenomenal work. … I don’t think she’s ever made a mistake.”

Wood was just as complimentary in return.

“He’s awesome. I’ve actually worked for eight judges and he is one of my top,” she said. “He’s the most caring gentleman, and I don’t say that about many people. He’s got a heart of gold.”

Wood said Graham “goes above and beyond” for his village justice role.

When Graham isn’t working, he enjoys being active around Port Jefferson. Although he won’t play golf “because golf is for old men,” he defined himself as a once-avid tennis player.

“They used to call me the deli man because my shots were always slices.”

He plans to start playing more again in the future, when his elbow feels better.

In addition to the “beautiful tennis courts,” Graham appreciates Port Jefferson’s proximity to the water and its abundance of outdoor activities.

He described his experience living in Port Jefferson and serving as a village justice as “a pleasure.”

“I never ask for an increase [in pay]. Whatever it is, it is, and it’s great.”

Christopher Foster mugshot from the DA's office

A Long Island man has been convicted of beating his month-old son to death and faces up to 25 years in prison.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, a jury convicted the 32-year-old Kings Park man of first-degree manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child four years after the boy, who was 43 days old, was killed.

The defendant, Christopher Foster, was found not guilty of second-degree murder.

The DA’s office said in a press release that an autopsy showed infant Jonathan Hertzler had suffered a fractured skull, four broken ribs and bruises on his face. When he died on Oct. 11, 2011, his fatal injuries had been caused by multiple blows.

Clarissa Hertzler, the boy’s mother, testified that Foster often became angry when the baby cried, the DA’s office said, and the infant “was a source of constant aggravation.”

According to the DA’s office, Assistant District Attorney Dana Brown told the jury that the night the baby died, Foster was the last person to hold him. She said Foster called his boss — not 911 — to report Jonathan was not breathing.

First-degree manslaughter is a Class B felony, and is defined as occurring when an adult intends to cause physical injury to someone younger than 11 years old and “recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of serious physical injury … and thereby causes the death of such a person,” the DA’s office said.

Foster was remanded to the county jail and will be sentenced on Sept. 8. He faces up to 25 years in state prison.

Morizsan to be sentenced to 25 years

Suffolk County Police Officer Nicholas Guerrero is released from Stony Brook University Hospital and transported to a rehab center. File photo by Barbara Donlon

A Northport man pleaded guilty to assault and other charges after striking two Suffolk County police officers and critically injuring one of them before fleeing the scene in a stolen car last September.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said that Chad Morizsan waived his right to appeal and will be sentenced to 25 years in state prison. He pleaded guilty to charges of assault, assault on a police officer, leaving the scene of an accident, grand larceny and more, according to a statement from Bob Clifford, spokesman for Spota.

Chad Morizsan. Photo from SCPD
Chad Morizsan. Photo from SCPD

Daniel Guttmann, who is listed in online court records as Morizsan’s attorney, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on Wednesday.

Morizsan was arrested in September of last year for running down two Suffolk County police officers following a traffic stop in Huntington. After speeding off, Morizsan stole gas, collided with another vehicle at the gas station and carjacked a 2005 Toyota Camry from an 87-year-old woman.

Nicholas Franzone, also a Northport resident, accompanied Morizsan in the car and is scheduled to appear in court before State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho on July 14.

Officers Nicholas Guerrero and Heriberto Lugo attempted to pull over Morizsan and Franzone on September 22 for traveling in a stolen Ford Explorer in Huntington on Partridge Lane. Morizsan sped off, striking both police officers as they approached the vehicle, critically injuring Guerrero.

Guerrero was hospitalized with a severe head injury at Stony Brook University Hospital for more than three weeks. He was monitored in the neurosurgical intensive care unit. He has been with the police department for four years. Lugo, his partner, was treated and released.

Police arrested Morizsan and Franzone at a department store in Central Islip several hours after the hit and run, where the pair attempted to purchase a television with a stolen credit card belonging to the woman whose car they had hijacked.

Morizsan was held at the time on bail of $3 million cash or a $30 million bond; Franzone was held on bail of $150,000 cash or $450,000 bond.

Morizsan was charged with third-degree grand larceny for allegedly stealing the Ford Explorer from the Commack area, petit larceny for stealing the gas, leaving the scene of incident involving property damage and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. On top of that, Morizsan was also arrested on three open warrants for violation of probation and petit larceny.

Franzone was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle for his alleged role in the carjacking incident, police said.

Ian Fitzgerald, of Central Islip, said Franzone had nothing to do with the hit-and-run.

“He was in the back seat of the car. He had nothing to do with Mr. Morizsan fleeing and injuring the officer … he had no control over the vehicle,” Fitzgerald had said in an interview last year.

 

Dr. Mitchel Fagin faces federal indictment, charges saying he distributed oxycodone, meth and more

Stock photo

A doctor from Smithtown faces federal charges accusing him of doling out drugs illegally, the U.S. Department of Justice said this week.

Dr. Mitchel Fagin was indicted Friday morning on charges that he illegally distributed oxycodone, methodone and alprazolam, highly addictive prescription pain medications, said Kelly T. Currie, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Currie and Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt of the Drug Enforcement Administration announced the charges on Friday.

“At the trial the government anticipates calling as witnesses several women who confirmed that Fagin accepted sexual favors in exchange for controlled substance prescriptions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Gatz stated in court records.

Fagin, 63, was arraigned over the weekend before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert at the United States Courthouse located in Central Islip, where he pleaded not guilty to the charges. He surrendered Friday to the Long Island District Office Tactical Diversion Squad, which is comprised of federal agents and officers of the Nassau County, Rockville Centre, and Port Washington police departments.

His attorney could not be reached for comment.

The 12-count indictment and public filings alleged that between May 2010 and September 2014, Fagin, a pain management doctor, issued multiple controlled substance prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose to individuals he knew were addicts. Fagin is also alleged to have issued controlled substance prescriptions in exchange for sexual favors from female patients.

“Dr. Fagin allegedly used his prescription-writing privileges not to heal, as was his duty, but to victimize vulnerable patients,” Currie said. “Doctors who issue prescriptions without a legitimate medical need are violating the law and will be held accountable.”

The doctor was previously investigated by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct resulting in at least one suspension of his medical license.

If convicted of the current charges, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $1 million fine.

“As detailed in the indictment, Dr. Fagin’s house was a medicine chest for opioid addicts to fuel their addiction. Dr. Fagin allegedly abused his position as a medical practitioner and prescribed medications for non-medical needs,” Hunt said in a statement over the weekend. “I commend the Long Island District Office Tactical Diversion Squad and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, for their diligent work throughout this investigation.”

The Kings Park woman charged with driving while intoxicated after a fatal Smithtown crash killed an Island Park man in March pleaded not guilty to a 12-count indictment on Wednesday, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

Natalia Simons, 36, was driving her Nissan Rogue north on Route 25A when she crossed over into the southbound lane around 12:05 a.m. on March 13, colliding with 59-year-old Larry Garwood’s Toyota Camry, Spota said.

Garwood, who worked as a radiology supervisor at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, was taken to the same hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Spota said. Simons was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital via Smithtown Ambulance, police said.

Simons was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, first-degree and second-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree assault, aggravated driving while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, speeding and failure to maintain a lane, the DA said.

She was released on $50,000 bail, Spota said.

District Attorney Tom Spota speaks at a press conference about Patrick O'Sullivan, who was convicted of raping a woman in Stony Brook in 2012. File photo by Michael Ruiz

The East Moriches man convicted of raping and sodomizing a woman in Stony Brook was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday at Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead, the district attorney said.

Patrick O’Sullivan has been convicted of raping a woman while she was housesitting in Stony Brook in 2012. Photo from Robert Clifford
Patrick O’Sullivan has been convicted of raping a woman while she was housesitting in Stony Brook in 2012. Photo from Robert Clifford

Patrick O’Sullivan, 23, pleaded guilty to charges of rape, criminal sexual act, burglary, sexual abuse and conspiracy in relation to the Nov. 20, 2012, incident, at a residence where his victim was house-sitting. Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said the man wore a mask and carried a loaded rifle when he entered the house through an unlocked door. He fired his weapon twice and sexually assaulted the victim after restraining her with duct tape.

While in custody at the county jail following his arrest, O’Sullivan was also charged with conspiracy after prosecutors said he tried to hire a hit man to kill the victim and another person he believed would testify against him, Spota said. The plot was foiled when the man he tried to hire notified the police.

The conspiracy charge alone landed O’Sullivan a concurrent prison term of up to 25 years, Spota said.

O’Sullivan appeared before Judge Barbara Kahn in county court Thursday morning for sentencing.

At the sentencing, he apologized to the victim, who also provided a statement. He said he hoped she could one day forgive him, a spokesman for Spota said.

In a moving testimony, the woman, who is not being identified because she is the victim of a sex crime, relived the horrific experience and the subsequent days before an arrest was made.

“For over an hour that night I was terrorized, tormented and violated. He showed me bullets and told me I shouldn’t make him use them,” she said in court Tuesday. “He left me in a house tied up, naked, violated, broken and alone. It was 10 days before an arrest was made, 10 days when I couldn’t bring myself to walk outside my house. It was eight months before I could return to work.”

The victim called her attacker a sociopath who made the conscious decision to commit “purely evil acts” of violence against her and said the memories of her attack will always be with her.

“There aren’t words to accurately describe the sheer panic, terror and fear when someone walks into a room and they are dressed in all black, wearing a ski mask and pointing a rifle directly at your head,” she said. “It is a moment that never leaves you. It is a moment in time that changes you forever.”

O’Sullivan waived his right to appeal in February and a permanent order of protection was issued for the victim, the district attorney said.

File photo

A contingent of 21 Latinos from Suffolk County has filed a class-action federal lawsuit suit against the Suffolk County Police Department, claiming several officers robbed them or issued them traffic citations in unfounded, race-based stops over a 10-year period.

Lawyers also charge the department with failing to correct a culture of discriminatory policing that has existed for years within the police force.

The case comes more than a year after Suffolk County Police Sgt. Scott Greene was arrested after a January 2014 sting operation uncovered he was taking money from a Latino driver. The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Wednesday, April 29, lists Suffolk County, its police department, Police Chief Ed Webber, Greene and others as defendants. LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the firm Shearman & Sterling LLP are litigating the case pro bono.

Greene’s arrest sparked the lawsuit, according to the attorneys. LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the nonprofit organization Make the Road New York, which provides services for Latino and working class families, claimed after Greene’s arrest it learned from “dozens of victims who had been too afraid or thought it pointless, to complain about widespread police criminality,” according to a statement by LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

Meanwhile, Bob Clifford, spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota, responded to the suit in a statement last week. He said that after the DA’s office spent hundreds of hours interviewing more than 50 individuals with LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Make the Road New York, two indictments encompassing 81 criminal charges involving 27 Hispanic victims were returned against Greene alone.

“There is no credible evidence that Greene acted with other police officers,” Clifford said.

All the 21 plaintiffs are anonymous and all, except for one, are male, according to the lawsuit. In a phone interview this week, Foster Maer, senior litigation counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF, declined to provide details on where in Suffolk the individuals live, nor could he say if they are related to one another. The sting operation involving Greene occurred in the Farmingville, Medford and Coram areas, according to the lawsuit.

In its statement, LatinoJustice PRLDEF alleges that most of its 21 plaintiffs were stopped and robbed while driving, while others were sitting in a parked vehicle or walking down the street.

“The victims claimed that one or more officers would, in clear violation of police rules, get a hold of the victim’s wallet and then return it a few minutes later with one or two hundred dollars missing,” according to the statement.

The firm also stated that it requested the DA expand the investigation beyond Greene and claims the DA “has not replied to the request and in fact has only indicted Sgt. Greene in the robberies.”

Clifford, in his statement, however, said some of the incidents LatinoJustice PRLDEF claims the DA ignored are covered by the indictment against Greene.

“At no time did LatinoJustice provide any information whatsoever that any victims were robbed by police officers,” he said. “At no time did LatinoJustice provide any audio tape to investigators regarding any alleged crime.”

Asked how the firms would prove the alleged crimes occurred by officers other than Greene, Maer said the case would rely on victim testimony as “pretty hard proof.” He also said Suffolk County has access to location data of police cars, something he hopes will help narrow down officers involved in crimes.

Scrutiny of Suffolk County’s police practices toward Latinos is not new. In 2013, the county Legislature ratified a settlement with the federal Department of Justice, culminating a five-year long investigation following the stabbing death of Ecuadorian Marcelo Lucero, labeled a hate crime.

The 2008 case, which ignited tensions in the county over perceived anti-Hispanic bias within the department, also gained national prominence. That settlement outlines a number of reforms within the department, including a minimum of annual training for officers on removing bias from policing and on identifying hate crimes; designating officers who will interface with local communities to hear concerns and work to solve neighborhood problems; meeting with leaders of the Latino community as well as other minority communities for feedback; and sending all allegations, formal or informal, of police misconduct to the SCPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau for investigation, as well as track complaints and analyze trends.

“As we have done continuously since the beginning of this investigation, we continue to urge victims to contact the district attorney’s office,” Clifford said.

District Attorney Tom Spota holds up a jar Brittany Ozarowski used while falsely claiming she had cancer to solicit donations. File photo by Erika Karp

The Selden native who tricked Long Islanders into believing she had cancer and used donations to fund her heroin habit was sentenced to prison on Monday, after she violated the terms of a mandated drug treatment program, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said.

Brittany Ozarowski will spend one to three years behind bars after  violating the terms of her drug treatment program. File photo
Brittany Ozarowski will spend one to three years behind bars after violating the terms of her drug treatment program. File photo

In December 2013, Brittany Ozarowski, 24, pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree larceny; 10 counts of second-degree forgery; 10 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing; one count of first-degree scheming to defraud; and one count of petit larceny. While the District Attorney’s office wanted Ozarowski to serve a maximum seven-year prison term, Judge John Iliou instead required her to enroll in the Suffolk County Judicial Diversion Program, an alternative sentencing program that includes drug addiction treatment instead of jail. Ozarowski’s sentence included one year of inpatient treatment, one year of outpatient treatment and a year of probation.

On Monday, Spota announced in a press release that she had violated the program’s terms and had thus been sentenced to one to three years in prison.

George Duncan, a Central Islip-based attorney representing Ozarowski, said while Ozarowski received “technical violations” that resulted in her prison sentence, her time spent in the treatment program “literally saved her life,” and she is aware and thankful for that.

Duncan and the DA’s office were unable to specify how exactly Ozarowski broke program rules, as doing so would violate the federal health care privacy laws.

Ozarowski was indicted on 24 counts and arrested in April 2013. According to the DA’s office, she claimed she had bone and brain cancer to solicit donations from customers at supermarkets and shops throughout Long Island, including in Terryville, Miller Place and Sayville. In addition, she got local businesses to hold fundraisers to benefit her alleged treatments and created a website with a PayPal account where people could donate. In reality, she was using the money to fuel her heroin addiction.

At the time of her arrest, investigators discovered more than $317 in a donation bucket. More than 20 locations with donation jars were later found and the DA’s office estimated Ozarowski defrauded more than $6,000.

The 2013 arrest wasn’t Ozarowski’s first. She has other heroin-related charges against her, including a driving under the influence charge from 2011, which is still pending. The DA’s office said the Newfield High School graduate tampered with letters from doctors to say she had cancer and submitted them to her attorney in order to postpone court hearings on the charges.

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