Police & Fire

Firefighters battle a kitchen fire at Mario's restaurant in East Setauket that traveled into the ceiling. Photo by Donna Deedy
Firefighters battle a kitchen fire at Mario’s restaurant in East Setauket that traveled into the ceiling. Photo by Donna Deedy

In the early morning hours of July 30, members of the Setauket Fire Department along with firefighters from surrounding companies battled a kitchen grease fire at Mario’s restaurant in East Setauket.

Lou Lasser IV of Mario’s said no one was in the restaurant when the fire, which spread to the ceiling, broke out.

Due to the heat, tents were set up in the adjoining parking lot to keep the first responders cool.

The restaurant is closed until further notice.

Thomas Kelsey was announced missing earlier this month. Photo from SCPD

A Centereach man who was announced missing earlier this month was found dead in his car July 25, police said.

Police said Kelsey was announced missing in a 2015 red GMC Yukon. Photo from SCPD

Thomas Kelsey, 45, of Centereach was found by a passerby who saw a vehicle in a ravine off Route 231 in North Babylon, and then called 911, Suffolk County Police said. 3rdPrecinct detectives said they believe Kelsey was driving his 2015 GMC Yukon north on Route 231 in North Babylon when the car left the roadway, crossed the median and crashed into the ravine in West Islip. Kelsey was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the  incident appears to be non-criminal.

Kelsey was last seen leaving Venetian Shores Park, located at 850 Venetian Boulevard in Lindenhurst July 7 at around 10 p.m. in his red 2015 GMC Yukon. He was reported missing by an acquaintance July 9 at 1:30 a.m.

Security footage of man and woman who allegedly robbed South Setauket Target. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County police are looking to identify and locate a man and woman who allegedly stole merchandise from a South Setauket store back in June.

A man and woman allegedly stole an electric sound bar from Target, located at 265 Pond Path, on June 21 at around 12:15 p.m.

 

Crime Stoppers now offering $5,000 reward for info that leads to arrest

Suffolk police continue to search for the man who killed Albert Luis Lopez Rodriguez in 2018. Luz Lopez, Rodriguez’ mother and Jason Rodriguez speak at a press conference July 22. Photo by Kyle Barr

The family of Albert Luis Lopez Rodriguez, a Selden man who was shot and killed last year in a Port Jefferson billiards hall, wailed and sobbed on the anniversary of his death, knowing that his killer was still out there.

“It does hurt a lot, he was my oldest brother,” Jason Rodriguez said at a conference held at Suffolk County Police headquarters in Yaphank July 22. “He never looked for any trouble … everything he did was for his family.”

Rodriguez, 27, was killed, according to police, after an argument and altercation at Billiards DBM in Upper Port July 22, 2018. Alejandro Vargas-Diaz, 36, who also goes by Papujo, Alejandro deVargas-Diaz and Robin Vargas allegedly had an argument with Rodriguez which ended in Vargas-Diaz shooting Rodriguez three times before escaping out the front door of the billiards hall. The victim allegedly was aquinted with the suspect, and was a father of three children, now aged two, seven and nine.

Police-obtained video of the billiards hall shows the place was lightly populated the night of the murder. Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said Rodriguez was at the billiards hall with one of his brothers, his cousin and girlfriend. They would not specify on the precise nature of the argument between the two men. Both men hail from Sabana Iglesia in the Dominican Republic.

Family members at the press conference held signs reading “No Peace,” shouting there would be no peace until their family member’s murderer was found. Luz Lopez, Rodriguez’ mother, could hardly hold back tears as she spoke.

“My heart is broken,” she said. “I will only have peace knowing the guy is in jail.”

Police have had little luck in finding Vargas-Diaz. Directly after the murder, the suspect fled the building, and was next spotted two hours later in Jamaica, Queens, near the train station. The murder weapon, a pistol, was found in the woods nearby in Port Jefferson.

Police sent a detective to the Dominican Republic to work with local police officials in that country, though police said they did not currently know where precisely Vargas-Diaz could be, adding he has family in Brooklyn, Queens, Paramus and Patterson, New Jersey and Hartford, Connecticut. Police said the suspect did not have an arrest record, and that he has had residency status in the U.S., but that has since expired. He was also known to frequent barbershops and pool halls in the area.

“There is a feeling by some in the community this was an accident,” Hart said. “It was no accident. It was an intentional murder.”

The family spent the anniversary of Rodriguez’s murder at his gravesite in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Center Moriches. With emotions mixing between stern and devastating sadness, the family said they will not be content until their family member’s killer is found.

“There’s no way he can hide from this,” Jason Rodriguez said.

 

File Photo
The perpetrator was in a black Hyundai Genesis

Suffolk County police are searching for a man who allegedly assaulted another man at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai back in May.

A male passenger of a left his vehicle and allegedly repeatedly punched a male driver of another vehicle in the face at Cedar Beach, located at 200 Harbor Beach Road, May 22 at 11:53 a.m. The man is described as white, approximately 38 to 45 years old, six feet tall, with thinning hair and arm tattoos, who was wearing a dark tank top.

 

A photo from Rudy Sunderman's website

On July 16, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced the indictment of Suffolk County Legislator Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic Beach), who has served in the 3rd District since January 2018.

Sunderman, 49, is being indicted for alleged perjury, ethics violations and other offenses in connection with his work as the former district manager of the Centereach Fire District that continued after he become legislator. An independent investigation by the Suffolk County Board of Ethics was referred to the district attorney’s office.

“This was a violation of the very laws that Legislator Sunderman has sworn to uphold,” Sini said. “These laws are in place to prevent potential conflicts of interest for lawmakers, prevent corruption and protect the integrity of ethics investigations.”

Prior to his election to the Suffolk County legislature in November 2017, Sunderman was employed as the district manager for the Centereach Fire District, earning approximately $175,000 a year, and as the district secretary for the Center Moriches Fire District, earning approximately $20,000 a year. On Dec. 6, 2017, Sunderman received an opinion from the Suffolk County Board of Ethics that continuing to serve in these roles while serving as a legislator would constitute a violation of the Suffolk County code’s prohibition on dual office-holding. Sunderman resigned from his position with the Center Moriches Fire District, according to the DA’s office.

Sunderman is alleged to have attempted to circumvent that ruling by creating a shell company in his wife’s name, Now That’s Fire Management, Inc., and arranging for the Centereach Board of Fire Commissioners to hire him through that company for $10,000 per month. Between Jan. 2, 2018 and June 30, 2018, despite the Board of Ethics’ determination, Sunderman allegedly continued to perform the duties of a district manager for the Centereach Fire District, including personally signing more than 600 vouchers and other official documents as district manager for the Centereach Fire District. Vouchers and purchase orders that Sunderman signed as “DM” or “District Manager” included those that authorized $60,000 in payments to Now That’s Fire Management, which is a violation of state municipal law regarding conflicts of interest, according to the DA’s office.

Following receipt of a complaint, the Suffolk County Board of Ethics began an investigation into Sunderman’s employment with the Centereach Fire District. On Oct. 29, 2018, during a deposition in connection with the investigation, Sunderman allegedly perjured himself on numerous occasions, including denying that he received any income from his continued work for the Centereach Fire District. Bank records obtained by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office showed that Sunderman was a signatory on Now That’s Fire Management’s corporate bank account, that the account was used for Sunderman’s personal expenses and that the county legislator had personally engaged in more than 100 transactions and spent thousands of dollars using a debit card issued to him on that bank account.

Sunderman also allegedly denied under oath managing fire district staff members after January 2018. Evidence developed over the course of the investigation showed that Sunderman continued to manage employees and represent himself as “District Manager” until he resigned from the position in June 2018, after the Board of Ethics began to investigate his conduct.

On April 23, 2019, Sunderman allegedly intentionally failed to disclose his outside employment and income as well as his wife’s income from the Centereach Fire Department on a financial disclosure form filed with the Suffolk County Board of Ethics for the 2018 reporting year.

Thomas Doyle, chairman of the Centereach Fire District board of fire commissioners, said the board was informed of the indictment July 16.

“The Centereach Fire District is cooperating with the Suffolk County District Attorney, and we refer all questions regarding this case to his office,” Doyle said. “The board of fire commissioners will have no further comment on this matter at this time.”

Sunderman is charged with five counts of perjury in the first degree; offering a false instrument for filing in the second degree; violation of the prohibition on dual office-holding under Suffolk County code; violation of the prohibition against conflicts of interest under general municipal law; and intentional failure to file an accurate financial disclosure statement under Suffolk County code.

Sunderman was arraigned on the indictment July 16 in front of Suffolk County Court Judge Anthony Senft Jr. and was released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court Aug.13, and if convicted of the top count, Sunderman faces a maximum sentence of two and one-third to seven years in prison.

File Photo

This post has been updated with the names of two people involved in the crash last Monday.

Suffolk County police officers are investigating a single-car crash that killed three people in Mount Sinai July 8.

Police said an SUV was traveling northbound on Mount Sinai-Coram Road, north of Hamlet Drive, when it left the roadway, crashed into a utility pole and caught on fire at around 11 p.m. The driver and two passengers in the SUV were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police identified one of the victims as Dorien Lashea Brown, 23, of Mount Sinai and another as Rebecca Minunno, 24, of Hampton Bays. The police had yet to identify the last victim as of press time.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to contact the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS (8477).

Mugshot of Thomas Hinrichs, 33, of Sound Beach. Photo from SCPD

A Sound Beach man was arrested for allegedly have sex with an underage girl whom he got in contact with via social media.

Thomas Hinrichs, 33, was arrested by Suffolk County Police at his home, located at 22 Babylon Drive, at around 4 p.m. July 4 for allegedly having sex with an underage girl earlier this year, police said.

Following an investigation by 6th squad detectives, Hinrichs was charged with rape 3rd degree and criminal sex act 3rd degree.

Hinrichs was held overnight at the 6th Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip July 5.

Police are asking anyone who believes they may be a victim,to call the Sixth Squad at (631) 854-8652 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

Jon Meeker, left, with his family during SWR graduations June 28. Photo from Gofundme page

A Shoreham man was killed this past Sunday after his motorcycle was involved in a crash with another car, Southold Town police said.

Jon Meeker was travelling eastbound on Route 25 driving a 2001 Suzuki motorcycle and attempted to pass a 2015 Jeep Cherokee on the right as it made a right turn onto Bailey Avenue shortly after 8 p.m., according to police.

Meeker was then thrown from his motorcycle and collided with a utility pole. The Shoreham man was transported to Eastern Long Island Hospital by members of the Greenport Fire Department where he later succumbed to his injuries.

Jennifer Feldstein of New York, the driver of the Jeep Cherokee, was not injured along with two other passengers in the car. Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks.

A GoFundMe page was set up on July 1 to provide contributions to the Meeker family.

“Jon worked three jobs to support his family, but the responsibility of two children in college, a daughter with a medical condition and funeral costs have overwhelmed the family financially,” the page reads. “Nothing was more important to Jon than his family. Any contributions will go directly to the family to address their most immediate needs during this difficult time.”

Within a day, over 250 people have raised upwards of $26,000 of the $75,000 goal.

The father of three is survived by his wife Kimberly, who works in Shoreham Wading-River School District, son Jake, who graduated from SWR High School this past week, and daughters Makayla and Ella.

Shoreham has been host to several tragedies over the past few years. Only recently 18-year-old Melissa Marchese, who was set to graduate from SWR, died in a car crash at the corner of Route 25A and Miller Avenue. The school district wore yellow ribbons and released doves in her honor at the commencement ceremony June 28.

For those looking to donate to the GoFundMe page visit here.

The home where an alleged attempted burglary took place. Photo from Google Maps

Port Jefferson residents helped detain an alleged burglar Sunday evening, police said.

Suffolk County Police said Frank Beinlich, 33, undomiciled, illegally entered the home at 22 Gladysz Way in Port Jefferson at around 5:05 p.m. and stole a safe, jewelry, small electronic equipment and clothing. No one was home at the time. Beinlich then allegedly placed several of the stolen items in a wooded area behind the house and called a taxi to pick him up.

When the taxi arrived, neighbors saw Beinlich carrying the safe to the waiting taxi. The neighbors called 911 and then detained Beinlich until 6th precinct officers arrived at the scene.

There was earlier police activity in the area after a neighbor spotted two individuals in the wooded area behind her house and called the police, one neighbor, who wished not to be named, said.

Police said they responded a few hours before the burglary in regard to a stolen vehicle that had been taken from Lake Grove. They are currently trying to determine whether the burglary suspect is also linked with the stolen car.

“They left and we thought it was over — that they had found who they were looking for,“ she said. “But about two hours later I noticed a cab coming down the block.”

The neighbor thought it was pretty unusual and the driver looked like he didn’t know what house to go to.

“He [the driver] parked his car at my neighbor’s and I knew he wasn’t home,” the neighbor said.” From my window I could see the thief behind the gate, he came out to talk to the driver briefly, went back to the house and then came back out with a bag. That’s when I called the police.”

Besides her, two other neighbors had called the police and they tried to keep the suspect in the car telling the driver to turn off the vehicle, but then the burglar jumped out, trying to escape.

“At that point my husband cornered him and with help from another neighbor they held him to the ground until the police came and took him,” she said.

The homeowner whose house was burglarized did not wish to be quoted in this article.

Beinlich was charged with burglary in the 2nd degree and an outstanding parole warrant. He was held overnight in the 6thprecinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip July 1.

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