Police & Fire

Aventura in Commack was cited by feds for allegedly giving Chinese-made technology to the U.S. Govt. Photos from U.S. Attorney’s Office

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is charging a Commack company, Aventura Technologies Inc., and seven current and former employees with allegedly selling Chinese-made electronic equipment with known cybersecurity vulnerabilities to the federal government and private customers, while falsely representing the equipment as made in the United States.

Yacht seized from the owners of Commack business Aventura. Photos from U.S. Attorney’s Office

The individual defendants charged in the alleged scheme include Northport residents Jack Cabasso, Aventura’s managing director and de facto owner and operator, and his wife Frances Cabasso, purported owner and chief executive officer. The Cabassos were also charged with money laundering proceeds from the alleged schemes and fraud for falsely representing Frances Cabasso as chief executive of Aventura to gain access to government contracts set aside for women-owned small businesses. The government froze approximately $3 million in 12 financial accounts that contain proceeds from the alleged unlawful conduct and seized the Cabassos’ 70-foot luxury yacht Tranquilo, which was moored in the gated community where the Cabassos reside. 

“As alleged, the defendants falsely claimed for years that their surveillance and security equipment was manufactured on Long Island, padding their pockets with money from lucrative contracts without regard for risk to the country’s national security posed by secretly peddling made-in-China electronics with known cyber vulnerabilities,” stated U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue in a release. 

In addition to Aventura and the Cabassos, the company’s senior executives Jonathan Lasker of Port Jefferson Station, Christine Lavonne Lazarus of Shirley and Eduard Matulik of North Massapequa were charged in the complaint, along with Wayne Marino of Rocky Point, a current employee, and Alan Schwartz of Smithtown, a recently retired employee. 

If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years imprisonment on each charge of the complaint, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. No trial dates have been set, according to John Marzulli in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

The attorney for Frances Cabasso was out of town. Jack Cabasso’s attorney did not respond before press time to messages left on his answering machine.

Equipment labeled with the Aventura logo. Photos from U.S. Attorney’s Office

“With the arrests, the defendants’ brazen deceptions and fraud schemes have been exposed, and they will face serious consequences for slapping phony ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ labels on products that our armed forces and sensitive government facilities depend upon,” Donoghue said.

Case documents state that the company lied to its customers, including the U.S. military, for more than a decade. Aventura reportedly generated more than $88 million in sales revenue from November 2010 and the charged scheme has allegedly been ongoing since 2006. 

“Greed is at the heart of this scheme, a reprehensible motive when the subjects in this case allegedly put into question the security of men and women who don uniforms each day to protect our nation,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney Jr. 

The money laundering scheme allegedly entailed siphoning illegal profits out of the company through a network of shell companies and intermediaries, including transferring hundreds of thousands, and in some cases, millions of dollars into an attorney escrow account belonging to an unnamed Long Island-based law firm, where the funds were used to purchase homes, in some cases for relatives. 

The FBI has established an email hotline for potential victims. Anyone with information regarding Aventura’s alleged crimes or anyone who believes they have been a victim can send an email to NY-AventuraVictims@fbi.gov. 

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Suffolk County police car. File photo

A Mount Sinai man was arrested Thursday, Nov. 14 for allegedly shooting at a neighbor’s cats with a pellet gun, one of which led the cat to need to be euthanized.

Suffolk County Police said a resident of Puritan Drive in Mount Sinai noticed one of his cats was walking with a limp in early September and a veterinarian determined it had been shot with a pellet gun. The cat was euthanized. The resident called police Nov. 14 at around 9 a.m. after he noticed two of his other cats were limping and a veterinarian determined they also had been shot. The cats are being treated for injuries.

Following an investigation, police determined the victim’s neighbor, Clifford Nagel, 72, of 27 Puritan Ave., shot the three cats with a pellet gun. Suffolk County Police and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals arrested Nagel at his home.

6th Precinct officers and detectives from the SCSPCA charged Nagel with three counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, a class E Felony under the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law. Nagel was issued a desk appearance ticket and is scheduled for arraignment at a later date.

Attorney information for Nagel was not immediately available.

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Port Jefferson officials amended the village code to allow Suffolk County police and code enforcement officers to impound bicycles from reckless riders, including juveniles. Photo from SCPD

Village officials have moved to curb reckless biking around Port Jeff by impounding bikes of people they find breaking the code.

At the Nov. 4 board meeting, Port Jefferson officials amended the village code to allow Suffolk County police and code enforcement officers to impound bicycles from reckless riders, including juveniles.

“As an era of common sense is not really operating anymore regarding bicycles, we have heard and seen kids running in front of cars, playing games where they’re hooking onto cars — incredibly dangerous activities out there,” village attorney Brian Egan said. “Vehicles are taking incredibly dangerous maneuvers to avoid these bikes.”

The code’s language forbids persons from trick riding, which usually comes in the form of wheelies, weaving back and forth in traffic or hanging onto automobiles driving on the road. It also forbids people from riding distracted, such as while using a phone or camera, though using a GoPro camera or similar devices while biking is permissible, according to the village attorney. 

Acting Chief of Code Enforcement Fred Leute Jr. could not be reached for comment.

Egan said at the Nov. 4 meeting that the law was being “narrowly tailored” to still allow bike riding in the village.

Bikes seized by either code enforcement or Suffolk police are kept in Port Jeff at the Department of Public Works building, with a record of impounding kept by the head of Code Enforcement. A parent or guardian can retrieve the impounded bike on behalf of a minor. 

Some residents at the meeting questioned if there were any issues with taking and impounding a minor’s bike, but Egan said it has worked for villages like Babylon.

“In practice, we see from other villages that these bikes never get retrieved,” he said. 

Mayor Margot Garant said after they reach a certain number of bikes that are not recovered after a time, they would hold an auction like they have done for kayaks left on village racks after the season is complete. She said the village would likely decrease the price of impounded bikes based on age.

“We have to review the impounding fee, because I think with the kayaks, we didn’t take into consideration an aging timeline, it was one set fee and here we were with all these kayaks,” she said.

In August of this year, the Village of Babylon passed a similar measure to curb the number of reckless bicyclists. That village fined riders over 16 years of age $250 when charged with violating the village code. 

The village has yet to set any fines from breaking this new section of the code or for retrieving the bike. Village officials said that decision would come at a future date after discussion, likely the next board meeting Nov. 18.

 

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The Rocky Point firehouse on King Road in Rocky Point. File photo by Kevin Redding

By Julianne Mosher

A former Rocky Point Fire Department treasurer pleaded guilty to stealing over $23,000 from the local department over the course of two years. 

The Rocky Point Fire Department Company 2 is using a warehouse on Prince Road as its main base. Photo by Kyle Barr

David Crosby, 28, of Rocky Point made his plea on Thursday to a petit larceny, an A misdemeanor, and will be required to pay the department back a full restitution equaling $23,324. 

“This is a just disposition that ensures the brave firefighters who serve the Rocky Point community will receive the full amount of money that was stolen from their department,” District Attorney Tim Sini (D) said. “The theft of public funds will not be tolerated. Our Public Integrity Bureau will continue to investigate and prosecute criminals who steal funds from our first responders and other public entities.”

The plea agreement will spare Crobsy prison time, officials said. He is expecting his sentence by Acting Suffolk County Court Judge Richard Dunne Jan. 14 to three
years probation.

From 2017 until 2019, Crosby served as the treasurer of Rocky Point Fire Department’s North Shore Beach Company 2, located at 90 King Road. During the two years, he made approximately 80 unauthorized ATM withdrawals from the department’s account totaling $19,744.09, along with $3,580 from a fundraiser the department held. 

When the department became aware of the missing funds a few months ago, they referred the issue to the District Attorney’s Office “right away,” William Glass, attorney for the Rocky Point Fire District said. Crosby surrendered to the DA Oct. 17. 

The attorney added that the money was not from taxpayer money but was solely from the fire department’s personal funds. 

“It’s a shame,” Glass said, “because the money was raised by the fire department.”

Crosby’s defense attorney, Paul Barahal, had no comment on behalf of his client. Assistant District Attorney Carey Ng, of the Public Integrity Bureau, will be prosecuting his case.

Four intoxicated male individuals can be seen on video surveillance kicking a light pole, throwing a garbage can and vandalizing storefronts near the Chandler Square ice cream shop in Port Jefferson Oct. 27. The incident occurred around 2:30 a.m. 

Video of the incident, which was posted on Facebook by Gina Daleo, co-owner of the Port Jefferson Ice Cream Café has been shared over 3,400 times. 

Kathianne Snaden, Port Jeff Village trustee and liaison to code enforcement, said that they found out about the incident when the video began circulating on social media. 

“We reached out to Gina, and she informed us that Suffolk police was handling the situation,” she said. 

Snaden said the property that was vandalized is owned by Daleo and her boyfriend. The private security camera system is connected to the SCPD’s real-time crime center. 

In terms of code enforcement in the village, Snaden said that in criminal matters they hand things off to the county police, though it depends on the situation as they could be asked to assist them as well.

Suffolk County police said in an email that they had not received any calls at that time. In a later statement at the Nov. 4 village board meeting they said they are currently investigating the incident. 

In the Facebook post, Daleo told users to message her if anyone has any information on the identities of the individuals. 

 

Stock Photo

Federal authorities have entered permanent injunctions against 15 individuals and ordered them to cease their involvement in multi-million-dollar mail fraud schemes. 

Anthony Kafeiti, of Port Jefferson, and Steven Diaz, of Mount Sinai, coordinated the schemes, according to federal officials. Documents show the individuals targeted elderly by falsely stating that they won large sums of money in exchange for a fee, but never gave the victim’s their winnings.

The schemes grossed $4.8 million in fraudulent proceedings over the past year, according to authorities.

“These permanent injunctions stop unscrupulous individuals and companies from conducting fraudulent solicitation schemes that targeted the elderly in our district and throughout the country and the world,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York. “This office will continue to use all available resources to protect victims of get-rich-quick schemes.”

Officials said the 15 individuals participated in the schemes in a variety of ways, including facilitating the mailing of fraudulent solicitations that victimized the elderly or vulnerable. The solicitations informed recipients throughout the world that they had won multi-million-dollar cash prizes but needed urgently to pay a fee to claim their winnings. Although victims sent in the requested fees by cash, check or credit card, they did not receive large cash prizes in return. 

Some 10 other individuals and companies were connected to the scheme, some were located in Germany, Las Vegas and Vancouver, British Columbia. 

The permanent injunctions were issued after the district court granted the government’s request for a temporary restraining order in November 2018. The injunctions prohibit those individuals from sending fraudulent solicitations, receiving, handling or opening any victim mail responding to solicitations and using or benefiting from lists of victims who previously responded to solicitations. The injunction also authorizes the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to open mail that was detained by law enforcement and return payments to the victims of the schemes.

“These defendants were making misleading promises of easy money,” said Delany De Leon-Colon, inspector in charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Criminal Investigations Group. “Anyone who engages in deceptive practices like this should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable, regardless of where they are.”

Attorneys for the two individuals named in the alleged scam could not be reached
for comment.

File photo

A person on site during demolition of a derelict property in Rocky Point called police about an explosive discovery Oct. 31 when workers excavating the property uncovered a bag of grenades, some of them still live.

On Halloween, Police said a person on site of the demolition called 911 at 10:07 a.m. to report a bag of grenades found at a zombie house on King Road. The house was already abandoned and had been knocked down. A bag with five grenades were found by workers during excavation. Three were still live, police said.

The house is just one of many derelict properties the Town of Brookhaven is contracting to demolish. Brookhaven Spokesperson Jack Krieger said the site is being handled by Bayport-based Panzner Construction. He said the town was unaware who placed the call to police.

Police said Emergency Service Section officers removed the grenades, with the three live ones to be detonated offsite.

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File photo
Image from SCPD

*Update: Police said they found Luke Bowen unharmed.

Original story:

Suffolk County Police have issued a silver alert for a missing Port Jefferson man who they said is schizophrenic, suffers from seizures and may be in need of medication.

Luke Bowen, 62, was discharged from Southside Hospital Oct. 29. He was last seen in the lobby waiting for a taxi and did not return to his residence, located at 136 North Country Road.

Bowen is white, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 160 pounds with gray hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a navy blue sweatshirt and black sneakers.

Police are asking anyone with information about Bowen’s location to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652 or 911.

Police are looking for a man who robbed a Sound Beach gas station. Photos from Suffolk County Police

Police said a small Sound Beach gas station was robbed at gunpoint Saturday, Oct. 19.

According to police, a man allegedly approached the attendant at CND Automotive on Echo Avenue, displayed a silver handgun and demanded money at around 8:45 p.m. The attendant, a 50-year-old man, complied and gave his own wallet and cash from the register to the suspect. The suspect then fled the scene on foot
southbound on Blue Point Road. The attendant sustained a minor injury and declined medical treatment at the scene.

The suspect was described as black, approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall with a medium build, wearing all black clothing, tan sneakers, black gloves and a black mask partially covering his face. He was carrying a black backpack with blue trim.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the robbery to contact the 7th Squad at 631-852-8752 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential.

 

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File photo

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a single-vehicle crash that killed a man in Mount Sinai on Oct. 20.

Ralph Maiello was driving a 2019 Chevrolet pickup truck southbound on County Road 83 when his vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree just south of Mount Sinai-Coram Road at approximately 9:05 a.m.

Maiello, 55, of Coram, was transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson where he was pronounced dead.

The pickup truck was impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652.