Police & Fire

The Heritage Center Trust hosted its 11th annual tree lighting Dec. 2 at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai, drawing a crowd of several hundred who were ready to celebrate the breakout of the Christmas season.

The Mount Sinai Middle School Jazz Choir led the crowd in classic Christmas carols before fire trucks of the Mount Sinai Fire Department drove in with lights flashing, delivering Santa himself to the expectant crowd.

After the tree lighting, attendees were able to eat fresh baked cookies and kids had the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap and take pictures.

The annual tree lighting at Heritage Park has been a part of the Mount Sinai community since 2007, but Jaime Baldassare, who volunteers for the center trust, said the lighting was a staple in the community before the Heritage Center Trust was established, first being hosted at the post office and later at the Mount Sinai Fire Department building.

GoFundMe page set up to help victim's family

The Preto family of Selden. Photo from GoFundMe

Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating a multicar crash on the Long Island Expressway near exit 49 in Melville over Thanksgiving weekend that killed a Selden man.

On Nov. 24, Dix Hills resident Madhava Reddy, 58, was driving a 2018 Mercedes Benz in the middle lane of the eastbound LIE near exit 49, when he was struck from behind by a 2016 Nissan driven by 31-year-old Eric Preto, of Selden. Preto’s pregnant wife, Gabriella, and his 2-year-old son were also in the vehicle.

Preto stepped out of his car to check the damage and speak with Reddy. As he was walking back to his vehicle, Preto was struck by a 2015 Subaru being driven by Jennifer Massaro, 38, of Smithtown. A 2017 Nissan being driven by Commack resident Stephen Raia, 24, then struck Preto’s vehicle.

Preto was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner. Reddy, Massaro, Gabriella Preto, 29, of Selden, and her child were all transported to area hospitals for evaluation. Raia was evaluated at the scene.

Suffolk police impounded all four vehicles for safety checks.

“Late last night, the Preto family was involved in a terrible accident and Eric lost his precious life,” reads a GoFundMe page set up for Eric Preto’s family. This tragedy is absolutely devastating and we’re hoping this account can help with the future expenses of his young children.”

The page, www.gofundme.com/support-the-family-of-eric-preto, had raised more than half of its $100,000 goal as of this publication’s press time.

Any witnesses to the accident are asked to contact the 2nd Squad at 631-854-8252.

A photo of Jose Borgos who allegedly left dogs out in freezing temperatures. Photo from SCPD

More than 20 dogs were left out in the cold in Rocky Point until a local police officer saw them and took action.

Jose Borgos, a 52-year-old Rocky Point resident, allegedly left 21 Rottweilers out in freezing temperatures Nov. 22 at his house on Broadway. Seventh Precinct Officer Karen Grenia was on patrol when she heard dogs barking at about 10 a.m., according to a Suffolk County Police Department press release. The officer discovered the dogs in Borgos’ backyard, nine of which were found in travel crates in a shed.

Borgos, who identified to police as a dog breeder, was charged with 21 counts of violating the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law pertaining to appropriate shelter for dogs left outdoors, which requires dog owners to provide appropriate shelter to dogs existing out in inclement or harmful weather. He was also charged with 21 counts of violating Suffolk County code on outdoor restraint of animals, which prohibits dogs from being tethered outside when the temperature is below freezing.

Information on Borgos’ attorney has not yet been made available, and he was scheduled for arraignment at a later date.

The Town of Brookhaven Animal Control will determine the placement of the dogs, the police statement said.

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Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Suffolk County police 6th Precinct crime section officers are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate the man who allegedly stole liquor from a Selden store last month.

A man allegedly stole a bottle of Don Julio 1942 Tequila from Ace Liquors, located at 359 Independence Plaza, Nov. 13 at approximately 6:30 p.m. The tequila was valued at approximately $150.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637) or by email at www.tipsubmit.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.

Huntington Station residents Adrian Bonilla, Jennifer Perez Cordero and Neftali Camacho Hernandez were arraigned Nov. 14 for allegedly operating a cocaine distribution ring. Photos from SCPD

Three Huntington Station residents face a total of 47 charges for allegedly operating a cocaine distribution ring following an 18-month investigation conducted by Suffolk County’s District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors said they found the trio had stored a kilogram of cocaine next to the bassinet of a 1-month-old baby.

Suffolk County law enforcement officers  arrested Adrian Bonilla, 40; Neftali Camacho Hernandez, 27; and Jennifer Perez Cordero, 28. They were arraigned in Suffolk County Supreme Court Nov. 14 for allegedly operating and conspiracy to operate an illegal drug trafficking ring, according Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D).

“This indictment should serve as a warning to drug dealers who operate in Suffolk County that law enforcement is coming for you.”

— Tim Sini

“This indictment should serve as a warning to drug dealers who operate in Suffolk County that law enforcement is coming for you,” Sini said in a statement. “These are serious charges; two of these defendants are facing up to life in prison if convicted. We will continue to aggressively target, arrest and prosecute anyone trafficking this poison into our communities.”

The district attorney’s investigation began in April 2017, under the tenure of Thomas Spota (D), where law enforcement officials utilized electronic and physical surveillance of the three suspects.

From April 2017 until this month, law enforcement officials said Bonilla and Hernandez allegedly sold approximately one-third of a kilogram of cocaine, or 650 individual doses of the drug each month. They allegedly charged $50 per one-half gram bag, resulting in proceeds of roughly $32,500 per month. Law enforcement officers claim to have made 19 covert purchases of cocaine from Hernandez during their investigation.

Police said Cordero was allegedly involved in helping package and distribute the narcotics in conjunction with Bonilla and Hernandez, both of whom are also accused of being members of the Latin Kings street gang.

On Nov. 2, law enforcement officers executed search warrants at three Huntington Station locations associated with suspects. The bust resulted in the seizure of 1 kilogram of cocaine found concealed underneath a bed next to a baby’s bassinet, 18 grams of crack cocaine, approximately $66,207 in cash, digital scales and packaging materials, according to court records.

“These individuals were making a living off selling cocaine, two of them even put their own child at risk,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said in a statement. “These arrests have concluded a nearly two-year investigation into drug sales in Huntington Station. This collaborative effort is another
example of the results that can be achieved when agencies work together.”

These individuals were making a living off selling cocaine, two of them even put their own child at risk.” 

— Geraldine Hart

Bonilla’s numerous charges include operating as a major trafficker, first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree conspiracy, third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Bonilla was held in lieu of $2 million cash or $4 million bond.

Hernandez has been indicted on numerous felonies including conspiracy in the second degree, and 19 counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison. Hernandez was held in lieu of $1 million cash or $3 million bond.

Cordero was arrested on charges including first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Cordero was held on $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond.

The three defendants are all scheduled to be back in Suffolk County Supreme Court Dec. 12.

A V. Garofalo Carting truck. Photo from Facebook

A Brentwood-based garbage carter and two of its employees have been charged with attempting to defraud the Town of Smithtown and its taxpayers of nearly $1 million after an investigation conducted by Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

V. Garofalo Carting, its principal owner Mario Garofalo and employee Robert Garofalo pled not guilty to allegations of enterprise corruption, money laundering and grand larceny among other charges in Suffolk County Supreme Court Nov. 15 before Judge Richard Ambro.

“This is a serious case of wrongdoing that defrauds the Town of Smithtown,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) said. “Our message is we will hold these type of bad actors accountable.”

This is a serious case of wrongdoing that defrauds the Town of Smithtown.”

— Tim Sini

Sini said the investigation was born out of a complaint filed with the county by the Town of Smithtown in 2014. It had laid stagnant, untouched, until he conducted a file review at the start of his term.

Between January 2015 and February 2016, prosecutors said the garbage carter and its employees allegedly hatched what they said was referred to as the Tulsa Plan, according to court documents. The garbage carter and its employees allegedly collected commercial garbage from businesses, both those unregistered with the Town of Smithtown, and others across Nassau and Suffolk County, to dispose of at the Covanta Huntington waste facility in East Northport on at least 19 different dates in exchange for a fee. Upon arriving at the facility, Garofalo employees then allegedly provided documentation falsely stating the commercial garbage had been collected in Smithtown, causing the town to be billed for its disposal, according to court records.

“Once we receive a copy of the indictment, our attorneys will review it to see if there’s any damages incurred by the town,” Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said Nov. 16. “Then we will take the appropriate measures.”

The town attorney’s office has since received a copy of the indictment against V. Garofalo Carting and the two men but was still reviewing it as of press time Nov. 20.

In addition, the district attorney’s investigation also alleged Mario Garofalo has used the Brentwood property of V. Garofalo Carting off Crooked Hill Road as a transfer station, storing commercial trash there, despite lacking the required permits to do so. 

At the end of the day, I firmly believe Mario, who has spent his life taking care of community, will gain his good reputation back at trial.” 

— Ray Perini

Ray Perini, a Huntington-based attorney representing Mario Garofalo, said he does not believe the allegations put forth by the district attorney’s office can be substantiated.

“At the end of the day, I firmly believe Mario, who has spent his life taking care of community, will gain his good reputation back at trial,” Perini said.

V. Garofalo Carting currently has a contract with the town to pick up and dispose of residential waste for approximately 17,000 homes, according to Wehrheim. Smithtown’s elected officials held a series of emergency meetings Nov. 16 to discuss possible measures to take, if needed, to ensure regular trash collection continues. 

“We are preparing in the event that they discontinue service how we will continue serving those homes,” Wehrheim said. “We hope it doesn’t happen. If it does, we will have a plan B.

Mario Garofalo’s attorney assured that should not be a concern, given the company’s good reputation having been in business for more than 57 years on Long Island, he said.

“This company will live up to contracts and continue to pick up residential trash,” Perini said.

Previously, a recyclables contractor for the Town of Smithtown, Jody Enterprises, was indicted for allegedly running a paper and cardboard scheme back in August 2012. The town, at that time under the leadership of former Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R), chose to settle the allegations out of court with an agreement the company would pay back restitution.

Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating the sexual assault of a female teenager that occurred in Huntington earlier this week.

The 16-year-old girl was walking with a friend on Prospect Street, roughly 100 feet south of Main Street, at approximately 1:15 a.m. Nov. 11 when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a man, police said.

Police said the man was described as Hispanic, approximately 20 to 25 years old, with short hair on the sides and long hair on top. The man, who has acne and a scar on his forehead, was wearing dark-colored shorts, a light-colored hooded sweatshirt and white sneakers. He fled on foot toward Main Street.

The  teen was transported to a local hospital for treatment, according to police.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this incident to call the 2nd Squad at 631-854-8252 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

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Suffolk County Police have arrested a home health aide who allegedly stole checks from an elderly patient in Port Jefferson Station in September.

Shaquashia O’Brien. Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

Shaquashia O’Brien was working as a home health aide for Sayville-based Integrity Home Care when she allegedly stole blank checks from an elderly patient at his residence in Port Jefferson Station Sept. 10, according to police. O’Brien attempted to cash the checks at Capital One’s East Main St. branch in Patchogue Sept. 11. Representatives from the bank declined the transaction and notified the victim.

Following an investigation by the 6th Precinct Crime Section, O’Brien, 23, of Shirley, was arrested Nov. 3. She was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and petit larceny. O’Brien is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Jan. 15, 2019.

Anyone who believes they may be a victim of this crime is asked to call the 6th Precinct Crime Section at 631-854-8626.

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Carlos Encarnacion, Santiago Tavarez and Juan Lopez-Enriquez are charged with allegedly operating a drug ring out of a Port Jefferson Station barber shop. Photos from DA's office

Three men involved with the Man Cave Barbershop in Port Jefferson Station have been indicted for allegedly selling narcotics, including heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, which they allegedly marketed as heroin, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D).

Juan Lopez-Enriquez, 41, the barber shop’s manager, along with fellow barber Carlos Encarnacion, 33, and shop regular Santiago Tavarez, 64, allegedly used the premises of their shop to both cut and sell narcotics at approximately one kilogram a month, making approximately $50,000 a month from these drug sales, according to Sini.

“The Man Cave gave barbershop customers a choice of hair styles and a choice of drugs,” Sini (D) said at a press conference where his office unsealed the 53-count indictment of the three individuals Oct. 24. “When they should have been focusing on cutting hair, these defendants were in the back room, cutting fentanyl and cocaine.”

Starting in January, law enforcement from the District Attorney’s Heroin Task Force, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, New York bureau of the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and the Suffolk County Police Department began investigating the alleged drug ring, using physical surveillance and electronic surveillance such as wiretapping. The police forces executed search warrants Oct. 4.

A search of the barber shop premises along with the other locations affiliated with the defendants revealed a hydraulic kilo press, two scales, packaging materials, approximately 20 grams of cocaine and approximately 200 grams of powder cutting agent, which is used to dilute narcotics to make them more profitable, according to the district attorney’s office.

Islip-based Attorney Robert Macedonio, who is representing Lopez-Enriquez, did not respond to a request for comment by press time. The defense attorneys for Tavarez and Encarnacion could not be reached.

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon (D) said several deputy sheriffs worked undercover to aid in the business’ surveillance.

“Deputy Sheriffs are working in close collaboration with the District Attorney’s Heroin Task Force, and this multi-agency effort is getting more drugs off our streets and making our communities safer,” Toulon said.

A loaded semi-automatic handgun and a box containing 38 cartridges of ammunition, which allegedly belonged to Lopez-Enriquez, were also seized. The alleged dealer is also being charged with criminal possession of a firearm.

If convicted both Lopez-Enriquez and Tavarez face eight to 20 years in prison for the top count of first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. Encarnacion faces a maximum of three to 10 years with several counts of second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.

“With fatal overdoses on the rise, law enforcement remains diligent in its pursuit to arrest those criminals seeking to fill their pockets on the vulnerabilities of others,” said Angel Melendez, the special agent in charge of HSI New York.

Man Cave Barbershop has since closed its doors, though review sites like Yelp show overall positive reviews from customers.

Bail was set for Lopez-Enriquez at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond; $200,000 or $400,000 bond for Talverez; and $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond for Encarnacion. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jacob Kubetz.

A man allegedly entered a Port Jefferson Station gas station Oct. 13, displayed what appeared to be a gun and demanded cash. Photos from SCPD

A man wearing a ski mask allegedly entered Speedway gas station in Port Jefferson Station Oct. 13, displayed what appeared to be a hand gun and demanded cash, according to Suffolk County police.

Sixth Squad detectives are investigating the incident, which occurred at the gas station located at 501 Patchogue Road in Port Jefferson Station at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning, police said. When the masked man made the request, the gas station employee did not comply, and the robber fled, and there were no injuries, police said.

Detectives believe this robbery is connected to an armed robbery that occurred at Sunoco gas station, located at 1575 Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station, Oct. 7 at 9:45 a.m. During that incident, a man entered the store, displayed what appeared to be a gun and demanded cash. The clerk complied and the man fled. No one was injured.

The suspect, pictured above, is described as light-skinned black, 25 to 30 years old, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall with a medium build and a goatee.

Detectives are asking anyone with information about these incidents to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

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