Police & Fire

May Garwin. Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

Suffolk County Police 6th Squad detectives are seeking the public’s help to locate an East Setauket woman, May Garwin, who was reported missing last week.

A relative of Garwin reported her missing to police May 26. The relative said she last saw the missing person April 4 at Garwin’s home, located at 5 Hansom Lane. Garwin is 36 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, approximately 130 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. She has no previously reported mental or physical health issues.

Garwin’s vehicle was impounded by the New York Police Department on May 6 after it was parked illegally on Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on Garwin’s location to call 911 or the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652.

File photo

Suffolk County Police arrested a Centereach man May 22 following a narcotics investigation. Police said the man was trying to sell drugs at a playground with his daughter beside him.

During the course of the investigation, detectives apprehended Chaleek Williams for possession and intent to sell crack cocaine on the playground at the Oxhead Road Elementary School, located at 144 Oxhead Road, allegedly with his two-year-old daughter present. Williams was also allegedly in possession of a quantity of MDMA. As he was being placed under arrest, police said Williams became combative and had to be restrained by officers.

Williams, 25, of Centereach, was charged with multiple counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to sell, as well as dndangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest.

Williams was overnight at the 3rd Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip May 23.

The child was released into the custody of family.

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Protesters in Port Jefferson Station object to a potential cell tower along Canal Road. Photo by Kyle Barr

The residents who live surrounding the Terryville Fire Department Station 3 on Canal Road can already picture it in their heads — a metal tower rising to the sky, an eyesore for all to see. It’s a project that Port Jefferson Station resident and protest organizer Teresa Mantione said was going to tank their property values.

Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic President Sal Pitti protests a potential cell tower along Canal Road. Photo by Kyle Barr

“They have the reason it’s their property, but we live all around here,” Mantione said. “It’s all about money. They are going to get a lot of money for this project.”

Multiple residents whose homes surround the Canal Road fire station said they thought a cell tower would be an eyesore, and they feared their property values would be dramatically reduced if the tower is constructed.

James Rant, a commissioner for Terryville Fire District, said the cell tower has so far been tabled, and the district is not even sure if they will make any more headway on the project. Otherwise, he said the district was looking to help all residents in the district, as a lease agreement for a cell tower could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars for the district over several years.

“This wouldn’t be paid for by the district, but the cell providers,” Rant added. “This was explored as a means of bringing revenue into the district.”

Andy Ram, who lives directly across the street from the firehouse, said he would be looking at it every day as he walks onto his lawn.

“There was no consultation,” Ram said. “We pay taxes here, and this is the first time I learned about this.”

Protesters also claimed the fire district has not been upfront in informing the community about their decision. 

Bill Freda points to where the cell tower would be located, saying he would see it from his backyard. Photo by Kyle Barr

The fire district had included a legal notice in the March 16, 2017, edition of the Port Times Record on proposals for a cell tower on Canal Road and Jayne Boulevard, though recent news has been quiet on any new cell towers. However, even with the legal notice, residents said they had little news by the fire department online or in other print forms.

Sal Pitti, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, joined in the protest saying he felt the fire department did not do enough to reach out to the community. He added the department had neither presented nor talked to civic leaders about the project.

“They could have easily gone through so many other routes to let members know this was going on,” Pitti said. 

Bill Freda, a 16-year volunteer and former captain in the fire department, has a backyard that looks at the surrounding trees to the rear of the fire station property. Later in the year, when the leaves fall from the trees, he fears he will have a front-row view of the new cell tower.

He said volunteers in the department had little to no knowledge of the new cell tower, and he fears the tower will directly impact his and neighboring property values.

“I’m taking a huge hit on this — this wipes out my investment,” he said. “I wish they could put this somewhere else or rent space on another tower.”

Protesters in Port Jefferson Station object to a potential cell tower along Canal Road. Photo by Kyle Barr

Rant said he was skeptical that a new cell tower would hurt local property values. Though he lives next to the Lawrence Aviation superfund site, he said he has seen very little impact on the price of his home.

Protesters point to studies such as a 2014 survey by Washington, D.C.-based National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy which said 94 percent of those respondents said cell towers would impact interest in a nearby property.

In addition to the protest, more than 150 people have signed an online Change.org petition saying they don’t want a cell tower at the fire station.

“They did not follow proper procedure and laws,” Port Jefferson Station resident Jim Hall wrote on the site. “Do not want this in my neighborhood. It’s a money grab.”

This post has been amended to change Bill Freda status to ex-captain in the fire department.

Police arrive at location of stranded mariners in their raft. Photo from SCPD
The three men rescued from off the Old Field coast in the Long Island Sound. Photo by SCPD

Suffolk police rescued three men who became stranded in a six-foot inflatable raft in the Long Island Sound May 19.

Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau officers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard at approximately 4:30 p.m. of an inflatable raft with three male occupants that were unable to make it back to shore. The three were fishing in the Long Island Sound, near Crane Neck Road in Old Field, when they were pulled approximately two miles off shore. Their boat did not have a motor and they were unable to paddle back due to winds blowing between 15 and 20 miles per hour.

Marine Bureau officers Robert Daniels and Peter Bogachunas responded in Marine Delta and located the men within 15 minutes of the initial call. All three occupants, Martin Villatoro, 23, Erick Villatoro, 26, and Ronald Benitez, 17, all of Bay Shore, were transported in Marine Delta, along with their raft, to Sunken Meadow State Park.

All three were wearing life vests and they were not injured.

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Police arrive after a man was allegedly hit by a train in Port Jefferson. Photo from the inside of train by Isobel Breheny

A bicyclist was allegedly struck by an oncoming train in Port Jefferson May 15, leaving commuters stranded on the train for more than an hour.

At approximately 6:20 p.m, the 4:19 p.m. train from Penn Station came into contact with a 50-year-old male bicyclist at the Main Street grade crossing in Port Jefferson, according to a MTA spokesperson.

The man was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the MTA said. The train was delayed 71 minutes. Long Island Railroad service was briefly suspended east of Stony Brook, and restored at 7:16 p.m.

District Attorney Tim Sini (D) pointing to a photo of one of the defendants, Guillermo Linares Alvarez, showing an 18th Street gang sign. Photo from DA’s office

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) and Homeland Security Investigations of New York announced May 14 the indictment of three 18th Street gang members for allegedly conspiring to murder two individuals they believed were MS-13 gang members.

 “This is one of many cases where my office and Homeland Security worked together to not only bring bad actors to justice, but to actually prevent violence,” Sini said. “We are no longer responding or waiting for tragedy to strike; we are taking a proactive approach, and due to excellent law enforcement work, we are preventing murders.”

 Wilber Campos Chicas, know as “Troya,” 25, of Port Jefferson Station; Guillermo Linares Alvarez, known as “Extrano,” 19, of Huntington Station; and Isidro Aguirre Canelas, known as “Chino,” 26, of Centereach, are each charged with one count of conspiracy in the second degree, a felony.

 Chicas and Canelas have been identified by law enforcement as members of the Tiny Locos clique of the 18th Street gang, which is based in Port Jefferson Station; and Linares Alvarez has been identified as a member of the Shatto Park Locos clique, located in Huntington Station.

 An investigation by the district attorney’s office and Homeland Security that began in March revealed intelligence that Chicas, Alvarez and Canelas allegedly conspired to murder two victims who they believed were members of MS-13, which is 18th Street’s rival gang.

Between March 15 and April 24, the defendants allegedly took several steps in furtherance of the murder conspiracy, including sharing photos and descriptions of the two targets and their whereabouts. The defendants were allegedly going to use two machetes, which were owned by Alvarez, to murder the two victims. They also allegedly discussed obtaining a car to use while carrying out their attacks.

“But for the dedication and professionalism of Homeland Security, these murders likely would have occurred.”

— Tim Sini

The three defendants, all of whom entered the United States illegally, were apprehended by Homeland Security agents in April.

“Working quickly, agents were able to take all three defendants into custody before they were able to execute their plan,” Sini said. “But for the dedication and professionalism of Homeland Security, these murders likely would have occurred.”

 “Homeland Security and Suffolk County will not stand for violence at the hand of any gang member,” said Gerald Handley, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security New York. “Whether the intended victim is innocent or a known member of a gang, we pay the same attention to the details and remain as proactive as possible to stay in front of the violence. We will stand united with our law enforcement partners and continue to arrest and seek prosecution of gang members.”

 The three defendants were arraigned on the indictment on March 13 by Suffolk County Acting County Court Judge Karen M. Wilutis and were remanded without bail.

 If convicted of the top count, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of eight to 25 years in prison. Chicas, Alvarez and Canelas are due back in court respectively on May 29, 30 and 31. 

 “Today is the latest example of Suffolk County law enforcement using the conspiracy statutes under New York State law to prevent violence,” Sini said. “We are collecting intelligence, analyzing that intelligence and disseminating it in a way that is allowing us to prevent violence and hold dangerous gang members accountable. None of this would be possible without the partnership between my office and Homeland Security as well as other law enforcement agencies.”

Investigators identify and continue to investigate Operation Pay Dirt, New York State’s largest alleged dumping conspiracy. Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

Smithtown resident Anthony “Rock” Grazio, the self-proclaimed “dirt broker,” plead guilty in an alleged illegal dumping conspiracy on Long Island.    

Smithtown resident Anthony ‘Rock’ Grazio. Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced the guilty plea May 2 after digging into the issue over the last 15 months. Thirty people, including Grazio, and nine corporations were indicted in November 2018 in an ongoing investigation called Operation Pay Dirt.

More than 24 Long Island dump sites were involved in the alleged conspiracy.

“As I’ve stated before, we are facing an epidemic of environmental crimes in Suffolk County,” Sini said. “This case was a great first step forward in ending those crimes. This plea, and Grazio’s pending prison sentence, will send a strong message to polluters that crime does not pay.” 

Between January and July 2018, as part of the alleged illegal dumping conspiracy, Grazio would allegedly act as a dirt broker by arranging for locations where trucking companies could illegally dispose of solid waste. Grazio posted advertisements on the website craigslist and on OfferUp, a marketplace app, for “clean fill,” or material that could be used for residential landscaping projects. He also solicited homeowners over the phone and in person for locations to use for dumping. Grazio would then coordinate with the owners or operators of trucking companies and solid waste management facilities to have solid waste illegally dumped at those properties.

In February 2018, the District Attorney’s Office, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Suffolk County Police Department began an investigation into the alleged Island-wide conspiracy. The months-long investigation involved the use of electronic and physical surveillance, including court-authorized eavesdropping. 

“During their phone conversations, Rock and the owners or operators of the trucking companies would discuss residential and commercial sites and the amount of material that could be dumped at a particular site,” Sini said. “The bigger the property, the better for the defendants, as this scam was all about making money.” 

Sini said that when an ideal property was found, Grazio could often be heard directing his co-conspirators to “hit it hard.” 

“This is a situation where people deliberately skirted the law to line their pockets with money and acted out of pure greed at the expense of the public health of residents of Suffolk County,” Sini said. 

DEC testing of the illegally dumped solid waste found that six of the locations contained acutely hazardous substances and 17 sites contained hazardous substances under New York State Environmental Conservation Law. The acutely hazardous substances included aldrin, dieldrin and heptachlor, which are all pesticides. The hazardous substances identified include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc and mercury, which are all metals.

Nineteen of the 24 locations are residential, four are commercial and one is a school. The solid waste dumped at the school was immediately removed.

Grazio, 54, plead guilty to two counts of criminal mischief in the second degree, a felony; two counts of endangering public health, safety or the environment in the third degree, a felony; conspiracy in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor; and operating a solid waste management facility without a permit, a misdemeanor.

Grazio is scheduled to be sentenced by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei July 15. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Grazio faces a sentence of two to four years in prison and a restitution judgment order in the amount of $500,000. This case is being prosecuted by assistant district attorneys Luigi Belcastro, Laura Sarowitz and Adriana Noyola of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau.

The investigation is ongoing, and Sini convened a special grand jury in November to hear evidence and make recommendations regarding illegal dumping in Suffolk County. The grand jury is still impaneled. 

Residents who believe they are a victim of illegal dumping can contact the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at 631-853-5602 or InfoDA@suffolkcountyny.gov. They can also contact the NYS DEC’s 24-hour Poacher and Polluter hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS, 1-844-332-3267.

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

Changes are happening for the Rocky Point Fire Department Company 2, otherwise known as the Black Sheep Company, as the fire district finally settles in to replace the aging firehouse on King Road in Rocky Point.

The night of May 1 the company moved all its equipment and vehicles into one of the warehouses of what was once the Thurber Lumber Yard property. The warehouse has enough room to fit the ladder truck, fire engine, brush truck, two EMS vehicles, and will also be home base for around 40 volunteers. The dirt road out of the property leads onto Prince Road, just a five-minute walk from the old firehouse.

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

Anthony Gallino, the chairman of the board of fire commissioners, said they were lucky to get those trucks in such a close location.

“It would have been a big problem for us,” Gallino said. “We might have been able to relocate some of the equipment into the other firehouses and pulling certain stuff not used as frequently and leaving it out. This is just a block away, and response times probably won’t change at all.”

Mark Baisch, the owner of Landmark Properties and the old Thurber property, said he was approached by the department and didn’t hesitate to offer one of the buildings for free for the fire company’s use. While plans are still in motion to break ground on 40 one-bedroom apartments for seniors, he said the fire department being in that building won’t disturb that development.

“We’ll work around them,” Baisch said.

District manager Ed Brooks said the deconstruction will start May 13 with asbestos removal, which could take from two to three weeks. Once inspection of the building is completed, demolition will begin, and that could take a number of weeks before construction on the new firehouse truly begins. Overall construction could take upward of a year, according to Gallino.

Citing that the aging firehouse, built in the 1950s, had received little upgrades and attention for half a century, the district proposed a $7,250,000 firehouse project that was approved by residents 204 to 197 in an August 2017 vote. Also approved in a separate vote were plans for the purchase of a new ladder truck at a cost of $1,250,000. While plans were originally set to break ground in early 2018, Brooks said the first set of bids came in too high for the project, and when the district put in for a new set of bids, too few came in. The fire district has since changed construction managers and has settled on a new set of bids. The new ladder truck won’t be purchased until after construction of the future firehouse is finished.

The board chairman said the new firehouse is especially important as the community grows.

“This is just a block away, and response times probably won’t change at all.”

— Anthony Gallino

“The other building was outdated, heating and air conditioning was a problem, the bays were so tight that when trucks were moving out, the guys were changing just a foot from a truck coming in and out,” Gallino said. “It’s a conservative building, but it will suit our needs.”

Members and friends of the Black Sheep Company took to Facebook to commiserate about their old firehouse as they moved into the warehouse on Prince Road.

“Tonight is a bittersweet night for the North Shore Beach Fire Company [as] we said goodbye to our firehouse,” local resident Theresa Lattman wrote in a Facebook post May 1. “Our trucks pulled out for the last time, but a new firehouse will be built in its place that will hopefully serve this community for a long time.”

Mannequin found in driver's car in the HOV lane of the Long Island Expressway. Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

Suffolk County Police issued a Centereach man a ticket after he was pulled over for driving with a phony passenger in the HOV lane on the Long Island Expressway in Dix Hills this afternoon.

Highway patrol officer Andrew Spina was traveling on the Long Island Expressway, near exit 51, when he became suspicious of the front seat passenger in a 2002 Saturn sedan traveling in the HOV lane.

Spina pulled over the vehicle and observed that the driver, James Britt, had placed a mannequin wearing a sweatshirt, sunglasses, hat and jeans into the front passenger seat in an attempt to resemble a person.

Britt, 34, was issued a summons for the HOV occupancy violations.

On May 5, Suffolk County Police arrested a woman for allegedly driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident and escape following a motor vehicle crash in Selden.

Candice Giorlando was driving a 2011 Dodge Durango westbound on Route 25 when she crashed into a 2001 Jeep at the intersection of Blue Point Road at approximately 8:47 p.m. Giorlando allegedly fled the scene on foot and was apprehended by 6th Precinct officers. After being taken into custody, Giorlando allegedly fled from officers and was apprehended a short time later.

The driver of the Jeep, Sean Sears, 41, and two passengers, Michelle Connor, 34, and Mia Sears, 3, all of Selden, were transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Giorlando was not injured.

Giorlando, 37, of Selden, was charged with driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident with physical injury and escape third degree. She was also issued two summonses for vehicle and traffic violations.

She was held overnight at the 4th Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip May 6.

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