Police & Fire

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County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant listen to SCPD Chief of Department Stuart Cameron on the new Real Time Crime Center. Photo from Kevin Wood

PJ first village to connect with Real Time Crime Center

Suffolk County Police will be keeping tabs on Port Jefferson village in a new way.

Village of Port Jefferson officials announced that it’s become the first village on Long Island to connect through videography with the Suffolk County’s new Real Time Crime Center. This allows the police to tap into the eight existing village security cameras positioned in places like the train station and the three-way intersection at West Broadway and Main Street.

Connections to the RTCC were made April 15 after piloting the program for a few months with one of the cameras in upper Port Jeff, according to village parking administrator Kevin Wood. He said most of the cameras help cover parking lots and high-traffic streets within the village.

“Having strategically placed high-definition cameras recording in public places 24/7 for the village to look back on for accidents or crime events is valuable,” Wood said in an email. “Having the SCPD also receiving these same video feeds in real time to their brand new RTCC adds an extra layer of security and response for the residents and visitors of Port Jefferson village. I certainly feel this is positive and a deterrent for negative activity.”

“It’s not because a crime is occurring, but they’re using more and more real time tools to help reduce crime.”

— Margot Garant

The RTCC was introduced in March this year and was funded with both county capital and grant funds. The county announced the finished crime center with the intent of cracking down on crime in the Island’s downtown locations. Earlier this month village officials were invited to the RTCC, located in Yaphank, to view the new system with County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron.

Village Mayor Margot Garant said it would be especially effective in tracking shoplifting crimes in the village, with the cameras able to identify vehicle’s license plates or people as they move in front of village shops. She said the cameras have recently aided in catching a shoplifter who stole from The East End Shirt Company.

“Some people ask, ‘Why is there a police helicopter going around Port,” Garant said. “It’s not because a crime is occurring, but they’re using more and more real time tools to help reduce crime.”

The village also has access to these cameras, and the code enforcement bureau has access via a single screen in their offices.

Police would have the ability to control individual cameras, which she said act on swivels to cover more area. Whether or not this means more surveillance for village residents and visitors, Garant said police wouldn’t be looking at each camera every second of every day.

“We’re using these tools to keep crime out of here, not spy on people,” she said. “This is what has to be done.”

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Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced April 30 the arrest of a Town of Brookhaven employee for allegedly stealing more than 500 gallons of diesel fuel from Town fuel facilities since August 2015.

Daniel Curtin, 50, of Wading River, was arrested April 29 and charged with multiple counts of grand larceny for stealing the fuel.

“We will not tolerate the theft of public funds or government property for someone’s own personal use,” Sini said. “I thank the Town of Brookhaven for bringing this matter to my Office’s attention and continuing to partner with us to protect taxpayers.”

Curtin, who is employed as a foreman for the Town of Brookhaven’s Highway Department, was issued a 2012 Ford pick-up truck by the town to be used for official business and to transport him to and from work. Curtin was permitted to obtain unleaded gasoline for the truck at various town fuel facilities. Curtin’s duties and responsibilities did not require any use of diesel fuel, the DA said.

Curtin is alleged to have stolen a total of 510.40 gallons of diesel fuel from town facilities on 75 separate occasions between Aug. 8, 2015, and Jan. 2, 2019. The fuel had a total value of $1,023.50.

The investigation revealed that Curtin was allegedly using the fuel for a heater in the garage of his house.

The case was referred to the District Attorney’s Office by Town of Brookhaven officials. Curtin has been an employee of the town for approximately 29 years.

If convicted of the top count, Curtin faces a maximum sentence of two and one-third to seven years in prison.

Curtin was arraigned on the charges April 29 by Suffolk County District Court Judge Gaetan B. Lozito and was released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court June 18.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kevin Ward of the Public Integrity Bureau.

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The vehicle Bruce Brant allegedly drove into the Rose Caracappa Senior Center April 30. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Guess he didn’t try knocking first.

Senior citizens who attend activities at Mount Sinai’s Rose Caracappa Senior Center were in for a surprise when they arrived for morning activities. The whole front door was pasted over with plywood after a man allegedly crashed his vehicle into the senior center in the early morning April 30, police said.

Bruce Brant was allegedly driving a 2012 Mazda3 northbound on North Ocean Avenue when he failed to stop at the end of the roadway and crashed the vehicle into the Rose Caracappa Senior Center, located at 739 Route 25A, at around 12:25 a.m. The vehicle came to a stop inside the building, according to Suffolk County Police.

Mount Sinai Fire Department Heavy Rescue extricated Brant from the Mazda. He was transported to John T. Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. There were no other injuries.

Town of Brookhaven workers were there at around 1 a.m. after the car had been extricated to make repairs on the front door, which were completed without interruption to center activities. A Brookhaven spokesperson said the town had not yet completed a cost estimate on repairs.

Brant, 25, of Pennsylvania, was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He will be arraigned at a later date. 

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A Coast Guard Auxiliary boat. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard

By Herb Herman

The Port Jefferson flotilla of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has been designated flotilla of the year. This is an award presented to the flotilla by the auxiliary’s 22nd Division of the 1st Southern Region of the Auxiliary. The 22 Division includes the auxiliary’s seven flotillas on Long Island, all of which report to the Coast Guard station at Eaton’s Neck.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, created by an act of Congress in 1939, is an all-volunteer civilian branch of the Coast Guard, acting as a “force multiplier,” where auxiliary members, both men and women, frequently aid the Coast Guard in wide-ranging activities. At Coast Guard stations around the country, auxiliary members carry out watch standing, that is, they will engage in communication management for a Coast Guard station. Frequently, they work in the stations’ kitchens, helping in food preparation and service. 

Many auxiliary members are talented craftspeople and will frequently work to support and improve Coast Guard station facilities.

Some 28,000 auxiliary members contribute more than 4.5 million hours of service each year and complete nearly 500,000 boating safety patrol missions to support the Coast Guard. Every year auxiliarists help to save some 500 lives, assist 15,000 distressed boaters, and provide boater safety instruction to more than 500,000 students, adults and children alike. In total, the Coast Guard Auxiliary saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

The Port Jefferson USCG Auxiliary Flotilla, 1st Southern District 14, Division 22, Flotilla 06, was founded in 2003 and now has 29 members. Since its founding, the flotilla has been active in boater education and in patrols within the Long Island Sound and in the Port Jefferson Harbor and Mount Sinai areas. Additionally, in this era of deep concern about terrorism, the flotilla engages in a program to inspect the marine-related facilities and the Port Jefferson Harbor infrastructure in order to discover and to report to the Coast Guard any vulnerability in the marine area. The Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry is of particular interest to the Coast Guard and to the auxiliary. 

The Port Jefferson flotilla, as well as the other six flotillas in Division 22 on Long Island, is actively recruiting men and women of all ages who want to serve their community and country in this unique way. Interested parties are invited to attend meetings, which are held on the second Wednesday of each month at the Port Jefferson Yacht Club on Surf Road at Port Jefferson Harbor. Doors open at 7 p.m. and call to order is at 7:30 p.m. For more information on the activities of the Port Jefferson Flotilla visit www.cgapj.org, email info@cgapj.org or call 631-938-1705.

Herb Herman is the flotilla staff officer for public affairs, Port Jefferson Auxiliary Flotilla 14-22-06.

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Suffolk County Police have arrested a Medford man for allegedly committing four armed robberies this month.

A man allegedly entered four businesses between April 5 and April 21, displayed what appeared to be a handgun, demanded cash and fled with proceeds. Following an investigation, police determined the robberies were committed by Eric Wright, 31.

Major Case Section detectives charged Wright with four counts of robbery in the first degree for the following robberies:

• Subway, located at 18 Woods Corner Road in Setauket, April 15 at approximately 7:15 p.m.

• 7-Eleven, located at 811 Waverly Ave. in Holtsville, April 21 at approximately 7:30 a.m.

• Aura Vape Store, located at 1110 Middle Country Road in Selden, April 11 at 9:07 p.m.

• Conoco Gas Station, located at 626 Old Medford Ave. in Patchogue, April 5 at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Additionally, 6th Squad detectives charged Wright with grand larceny third degree and criminal possession of stolen property third degree for pawning jewelry he allegedly stole from a Setauket home.   

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Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) during a press conference about an alleged sex trafficking operation in Sound Beach. Photo from DA's office.

A Sound Beach man was indicted for allegedly conducting a human trafficking ring out of his parents’ house since at least 2014.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) and the Suffolk County Police Department said Raymond Rodio III, 47, allegedly operated a sex trafficking ring of over 20 women by luring them with the promise of crack cocaine and heroin, and then using that addiction as leverage against them. The man also allegedly kept the women in horrible conditions in his parents’ basement for long stretches of time.

“This is a dangerous and depraved individual,” Sini said in a release. “He kept women locked up in the basement of his parents’ house, using the basement as a dungeon. He preyed on women using their vulnerabilities and their drug dependencies to maintain his control over them. With this indictment, we are putting an end to his criminal operation and his victimization of over 20 women.”

In August 2018, the Suffolk County Police Department identified a suspected victim of human trafficking during a routine traffic stop. An investigation by the Police Department’s Human Trafficking Investigations Unit revealed evidence that the victim had allegedly been forced into sex trafficking by Rodio in the spring of 2018.

Further investigation by county police and the DA’s human trafficking sections revealed Rodio was allegedly trafficking women out of the basement of his parents’ residence, located on Lower Rocky Point Road in Sound Beach, since 2014. The investigation identified more than 20 victims of Rodio’s alleged sex trafficking operation. Rodio was arrested March 18.

Rodio would allegedly post advertisements on websites, including Backpage and Craigslist, promoting prostitution by the victims and would keep either a large percentage or all of the profits of their prostitution, according to the district attorney’s office.

“This man preyed on vulnerable women, using threats and drugs to manipulate them for his own financial gain,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said.

The district attorney’s office said the investigation also revealed evidence Rodio would allegedly occasionally keep victims in the basement for extended periods of time and force them to use a bucket as a toilet because the basement does not have a bathroom. The door to the basement has an exterior lock to which Rodio had the only key. In addition to the house, Rodio also allegedly forced the victims to perform prostitution at various motels throughout Suffolk County.

Rodio is alleged to have used threats of violence to force victims to continue engaging in prostitution on his behalf. He also allegedly provided his victims with heroin and crack cocaine before prostituting them to impair their judgment.

“This creates a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult for victims to break,” Sini said. “That is precisely why my office and the Suffolk County Police Department have shifted the paradigm in how we deal with these cases. We treat the women as victims, because they are.”

Rodio has been charged with seven counts of sex trafficking, a B felony, one count of sex trafficking, a B violent felony, one count of promoting prostitution in the second degree, a C felony, one count of promoting prostitution in the thirddDegree, a D felony, and four counts of promoting prostitution in the fourth degree, an A misdemeanor. If convicted of the top count, Rodio faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

In addition to the sex trafficking charges, the Suffolk County Police Department’s Narcotics Section, in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Investigations Unit, began a subsequent investigation into alleged drug dealing by Rodio. The investigation resulted in Rodio being indicted by the District Attorney’s Office on March 22 and charged with five counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B felony.

Rodio was arraigned on the indictment in connection with the alleged human trafficking operation today by Suffolk County Acting Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho. Bail was set at $1 million cash or $2 million bond. He is due back in court May 21.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Daniel Cronin, of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau’s Human Trafficking Team.

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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. 

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.

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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.

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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

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