Police & Fire

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Golf holes at the Port Jeff golf course were vandalized with what’s believed to be gasoline. Photos from Brian Macmillan

The morning of April 9, Brian Macmillan, the golf course superintendent at the Port Jefferson Country Club, walked out onto the green of the village golf course and smelled something like gasoline. Five of the greens at the course had been hit with the substance.

Dead grass after the substance had seeped into the ground. Photo from SCPD

The five holes, namely numbers 8,12,13,14 and 17, had been vandalized between the hours of between April 8 at 7 p.m. and April 9 at 7 a.m. with a substance suspected to be gasoline of some type. The unknown perpetrators had released the substance in random patterns at each of the greens near the holes. Macmillan said he suspected the perpetrators did not do it by accident since each site of vandalism was specifically the greens instead of the grasses between. He added he had no notion why a person would commit the act, but suspected it was an intentional act to hurt the country club.

“This was pretty intentional and aggressive,” the golf club superintendent said. “Ninety-eight percent of the people in the club wouldn’t have anything to do with their motive.”

Suffolk County police was contacted that morning, and Macmillan said they arrived very soon after they had been called. While police have been in contact with the country club asking questions, the superintendent said they have not received any updates on the ongoing investigation. 

While the holes were sectioned off for the day when the club learned of the vandalism, they have since become playable again.

Port Jefferson village trustee Stan Loucks, the liaison to the country club, said each hole had taken excessive damage. The village has since contacted seven different golf course renovation and construction companies to find a person to schedule repairs. Currently the cost to the village is unknown, and they hope it will be covered under insurance for the course.

Suffolk County Police said the damage is estimated to cost $10,000.

Loucks said April 15 the village had contracted out to East Northport-based Delea Sod Farms to handle the repairs, which would start April 22 and should take two to three days.

“This was pretty intentional and aggressive.”

— Brian Macmilla

Macmillan said the substance permeated through the ground a foot and a half down. Repairs will require removing the damaged grass as well as the impacted soil below it. He added the country club has a nursery green used to replace portions of the holes that are damaged through heat stress and disease, though he said he had not expected to use it for a situation such as this. 

Loucks added the village will likely use extra sod from holes 14 and 17. The impacted holes will be unusable during repair but will become playable again afterward, with the affected areas sectioned off during play. 

The country club has been running with a new owner for just over a year. After a 15-year partnership with Port Jefferson village, Lombardi’s on the Sound handed ownership of the club over to Danfords in March 2018.

Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County Police said Sunday they have arrested two alleged motorcycle gang members in connection with drugs and weapon charges during a traffic stop in Centereach April 6.

Police said a 6th Precinct police officer pulled over a vehicle, driven by Salvatore Manfredonia III, on Hawkins Road for failing to stop at a stop sign at around 8:45 p.m. Manfredonia was allegedly found to be in possession of Oxycodone. His passenger, John Balogh, was found in possession of a 9mm handgun. Police said Manfredonia is a member of the Satans Soldiers Motorcycle Club, and Balogh, a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, had just left the Hells Angels April Bash held on Lynbrook Street in Centereach.

Manfredonia, 35, of 15 Louise Drive in West Nyack, was arrested and charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th Degree. Balogh, 58, of 1500 Parker Street 5B in the Bronx, was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon 2nd degree, criminal possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of marijuana. Balogh was arraigned at the First District court in Central Islip April 7, and is next set to appear in court April 12. Police said Manfredonia will be arraigned on a later date.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that seriously injured a motorcyclist in Miller Place April 7.

Margaret Befanis, of Port Jefferson Station, was driving a 2017 Nissan Sentra eastbound on Route 25A and was turning left into North Country Plaza when a 2017 motorcycle, being operated by Joseph Sinacore, of Miller Place, struck the car at around 1:40 p.m.

Sinacore, 27, was airlifted via Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries. Befanis, 69, was transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson with minor injuries.

The vehicle and motorcycle were impounded for a safety check. Anyone with information about this crash is asked to call the sixth squad police at 631-854-8652.

A fire engulfs the front of a house on Cabin Lane in Setauket. Photo by Bob O'Rourk

By Bob O’Rourk

The Setauket Fire Department was called to a fire on Cabin Lane in Setauket Thursday, April 4. On arrival the front of the house was engulfed in flames and the power lines to the house had burned through and were arcing on the driveway. The first units on scene made entry into the house, performed a search and finding no one home, removed two dogs.

The fire was quickly extinguished with the help of mutual aid from Stony Brook, Port Jeff and Terryville. There were no injuries and the Town of Brookhaven fire marshal is investigating the cause.

During this time, Setauket was called to other fire alarms which were handled by the Terryville and Centereach Fire departments.

Bob O’Rourk is a public information officer with the Setauket Fire Department

File photo

Suffolk County police arrested six people March 30 for selling alcohol to minors at businesses located within Brookhaven Town in the 6th Precinct.

Police said they conducted several stings in response to community complaints, and 6th Precinct Crime Section officers conducted an investigation into the sale of alcohol to minors during which 17 businesses were checked for compliance with the law.

The following people were arrested and charged with unlawfully dealing with a minor:

  • German Estevez-Rodriguez, 40, of East Setauket, employed at Upper Main Street Deli, located at 1600 Main Street in Port Jefferson
  • Joseph Ragan, 18, of Coram, employed at Speedway Gas Station, located at 1445 Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station
  • Isaiah Tyler, 19, of Coram, employed at Speedway Gas Station located at 1956 Route 112 in Coram
  • Nurettin Keski, 45, of Brentwood, employed by Valero Gas Station,located at 1274 Middle Country Road in Selden
  • Buenaventura Benitez, 45, of Smithtown, employed at NY Food & Drinks, Inc. located at 2505 Middle Country Road in Centereach
  • Ervin Rhames, 21, of East Patchogue, employed at Speedway Gas Station, located at 501 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station

Eleven establishments within the 6th Precinct complied and refused to sell alcohol to minors.

All six people arrested were issued field appearance tickets and are scheduled to appear at first district court in Central Islip May 28.

Tint meter used to detect the level of colored tint on car windows. Photo from SCPD video on illegal tints

Driving around Long Island, it’s most likely you have seen vehicles with a dark sheen of having their windows tinted. 

Suffolk County police have said some may have been illegally darkened, but still managed to pass inspection. A 2017 New York State law requires window tint testing during annual motor vehicle inspections, though Suffolk County police had seen an increase in window tint violation summons issued in the two years since the new law took effect. 

In response, police conducted a three-month sting operation from November 2018 to January of this year on 11 state inspection stations that were suspected of passing vehicles with illegally tinted windows. One turned out to be an automotive place in Selden.

Police used a decoy vehicle that had tinted windows that blocked 95 percent of light at these inspection stations. Operation Black Glass, as police called the sting operation, found that two of the 11 stations passed the decoy car and issued inspection stickers. 

Staria Auto of Selden and Baldwin Automotive of East Patchogue were the two inspection stations that illegally passed the decoy vehicle. The other nine stations correctly did not issue an inspection sticker to the decoy, police said. 

Suffolk Police Chief Stuart Cameron provided an explanation of the origins of the operation.

“If a car has illegally tinted windows, it should be failed and taken off the road until the tint is removed and the car is made legal.”

— Stuart Cameron

“Late last year I was driving on the expressway and I was still noticing a significant number of vehicles on the roadways with tinted windows, far more than I would expect to see after this law was in effect for two years,” Cameron said. “I wanted to see what the issue was — why wasn’t this law working like it was anticipated to.”

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) stressed the issue of officer safety when it comes to illegally tinted windows and traffic stops. 

“It’s one of the most dangerous situations a police officer can be involved in because there is extreme unknown,” Bellone said. “The danger associated with traffic stops gets heightened by the fact that there are vehicles on the road that have [these] tinted windows.” 

The state requires tinted windows to block only up to 30 percent of light, barring medical exceptions for the driver, officials said. 

The offending stations were referred to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, which could impose penalties on their inspection licenses. 

Police issued close to 6,000 summonses last year, far more than before the new law took effect. 

Cameron enlisted the help of the criminal intelligence section and asked them to do a comparison against the window tints summons officers have written, to the inspection stations that had issued an inspection certificate to those cars, to see if there was a pattern. 

Eleven inspection stations stood out and were targeted in the sting. 

Cameron reiterated officer safety, saying anything could be happening when you can’t see what’s behind these windows.  

“[These inspection stations] have an obligation to uphold a New York State law when cars are being brought in to be inspected,” the county police chief said. “If a car has illegally tinted windows, it should be failed and taken off the road until the tint is removed and the car is made legal.” 

Bellone said Suffolk residents should not  put officers’ safety at risk, for essentially a cosmetic addition to a vehicle.

“It’s not something we are going to tolerate, we are going to do everything to protect officers who are out there protecting us each and every day,” he said.

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Police conducted a warrant search on the home located at 535 High Street March 28. Photo from a Port Jeff resident
Police conducted a warrant search on the home located at 535 High Street March 28. Photo from a Port Jeff resident

Port Jefferson Village officials were notified March 28 of Suffolk County Police executing a search warrant on a house on High Street over allegedly possessing narcotics.

Suffolk County Police Narcotics Section detectives conducted an investigation regarding 535 High Street in Port Jefferson, and executed a search warrant at the residence March 28, police said.

Police arrested Richard Shelton, 33, a resident of the home. Shelton was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance for allegedly possessing cocaine. Shelton was set to appear today, March 29 at Suffolk County First District court in Central Islip. There is no attorney information available for Shelton as of March 29.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

A photo Brian Newton. Photo from New York State Sex Offender Registry

An East Northport man and registered sex offender has been sentenced on transporting, trading and possessing child pornography.

In federal court in Central Islip, Brian Newton, 38, was sentenced to 19 years in prison by United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco Feb. 27. This followed a guilty plea May 3, 2018, to the transportation of child pornography in interstate and foreign commerce. As part of his sentence, Newton must serve five years supervised release following his imprisonment, during which time he must remain registered as a sex offender and not have unsupervised contact with minors. 

Richard Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the assistant director in charge of the FBI New York Field Office announced the sentence.

“Newton, despite being a registered sex offender, again chose to victimize children by sharing images of their abuse with others online, conduct that is deserving of a substantial prison sentence and underscores a message of deterrence to others,” said Donoghue. “The protection of innocent children is a priority of utmost importance for this office and our law enforcement partners. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that those who victimize children will be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”  

Newton, who at the time of the charged offense was on probation from a conviction in Suffolk County in 2014 for possession of child pornography, was allegedly caught trading child pornography including sadistic depictions of the sexual abuse of infants and toddlers, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. During the execution of a search warrant at his residence, police seized Newton’s large collection of child pornography, including hundreds of videos and thousands of images.  After his arrest, Newton admitted engaging in conversations with minors over internet chat platforms, as well as sending nude images of himself to minors and soliciting nude images from minors.    

“Child pornography is not an abstract crime. It is a direct by-product of the sexual abuse of innocent children — in this instance, including infants and toddlers,” Sweeney said. “And though he was already on probation for a prior child pornography conviction, Newton continued and even escalated his depraved actions, sharing child pornography while sexually soliciting minor children online.”

This prosecution is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative led by the Department of Justice to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. attorneys’ offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

The government’s case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States attorneys Lara T. Gatz and Michael R. Maffei were in charge of the prosecution. 

Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

An East Setauket man faces a multicount indictment for allegedly receiving more than $400,000 through insurance fraud.

On Feb. 28, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini’s (D) office announced the unsealing of a 70-count indictment against former health care worker Joseph Basile, 50. It is alleged he fraudulently received more than $400,000 through a health insurance fraud scheme where he would file claims for unperformed procedures and list a former employer, a colorectal surgeon, on the forms.

“This was an act of pure greed,” Sini said. “He used his knowledge of the health care insurance system to illegally pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars, money that would have otherwise been used to care for people who were sick and in need.”

Basile was charged with insurance fraud in the first degree, three counts of health care fraud in the second degree, two counts of grand larceny in the second degree, health care fraud in the third degree, grand larceny in the third degree, scheme to defraud in the first degree and 60 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.

Basile was employed as an office manager for a private health care practice by a colorectal surgeon in Port Jefferson before the practice closed in 2013, according to the DA’s office. From January 2014 through July 2016, Basile allegedly fraudulently filed insurance claims for medical procedures, including colorectal surgeries, to Empire BlueCross BlueShield in excess of $3.8 million on behalf of himself and others, listing his former employer as the provider. The medical procedures had not been performed.

Basile then allegedly forged the signature of his former employer and deposited the checks into his own account. The more than $400,000 received was paid by both the insurance company and John T. Mather Hospital.

The former health care worker also allegedly filed fraudulent insurance claims on behalf of another individual whose health care is provided through Teamsters Local 1205’s welfare fund, according to Sini’s office. Basile allegedly stole more than $3,000 from the fund by filing false health care insurance claims.

Basile was released on $5,000 bond and is due back in court March 12. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

He is being represented by Legal Aid of Suffolk County attorney Kathleen Evers who could not be reached for comment.

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Patrick Musumeci. Photo from SCPD

A former worker at the Commack School District has been indicted for the alleged illegal possession of weapons and drugs following an investigation by the Suffolk County Police Department.

“It’s very concerning to have an individual who has access to a school allegedly be in possession of drugs and illegal firearms,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) said in a statement. “Residents in the defendant’s neighborhood saw something, said something, and the Suffolk County Police Department acted swiftly to investigate and arrest this defendant.”

Patrick Musumeci, 30, a former maintenance worker for Commack School District, was charged with four counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, five counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, four counts of criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and several misdemeanors.

On Feb. 6, at approximately 5:35 a.m., Suffolk County police detectives from the 5th Squad Special Operations Team and officers from the Emergency Service Section and 5th Precinct Gang Unit executed a search warrant at Musumeci’s residence, located at 57 Wilmarth Ave. in Patchogue. The search warrant was executed pursuant to a narcotics investigation into alleged drug dealing at the residence, which was reported to police through the Suffolk County Crime Stoppers hotline.

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.”

Musumeci was allegedly in illegal possession of four assault weapons and four additional firearms, namely a Bee Miller 9 mm semi-automatic rifle, a .233-caliber Bushmaster Remington semi-automatic rifle, a .233-caliber Smith and Wesson Remington semi-automatic rifle, a .22-caliber CBC long rifle semi-automatic rifle, a .40-caliber Glock Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol, a .40-caliber Taurus Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol, a .22-caliber Sturm, Ruger & Co. revolver and a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson special revolver. Musumeci also allegedly possessed brass knuckles.

Two of the handguns recovered during the search warrant were previously reported stolen.

Musumeci is also alleged to have possessed quantities of oxycodone; methadone; Xanax; morphine; concentrated cannabis, known as THC, in e-cigarette cartridges; marijuana; a digital scale; and packaging materials consistent with narcotics sales.

Musumeci was also allegedly in possession of several hand-pressed pills made to resemble oxycodone. An analysis of the pills revealed they were actually composed of a mixture of fentanyl, methamphetamine and tramadol.

Information on Musumeci’s attorney was not available.

Musumeci was arraigned on the indictment Feb. 28 by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen. Bail was previously set at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond. He is due back in court March 19.

If convicted of the top count, Musumeci faces a maximum sentence of up to nine years in prison.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nicole Felice of the Narcotics Bureau.

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