Police & Fire

A Middle Country man may have been unwell on Wednesday when his pickup truck crashed into the center median on the Long Island Expressway, before he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Suffolk County Police Department said the 63-year-old Coram man, David Hutchings, was driving a 2005 GMC east near exit 63 in Holtsville at about 1:15 p.m. when he collided with the median near the carpool lane. The pickup came to a stop after the crash.

According to police, officers and rescue personnel arrived to find Hutchings unconscious behind the wheel. The Holtsville Fire Department ambulance brought him to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police said detectives from the SCPD’s 6th Squad, who are investigating the incident, believe Hutchings experienced a medical emergency, causing the fatal one-car crash.

The pickup was impounded for safety checks.

Stephen Ruth mugshot from the SCPD

Police arrested a Centereach man on Tuesday afternoon who they say used a pole to turn red light cameras away from the road and potential violators.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the suspect used an expandable pole to tamper with the cameras, pushing the lenses toward the sky. Officers from the SCPD’s 6th Precinct Crime Section received anonymous tips regarding a video post on social media that allegedly shows 42-year-old Stephen Ruth tampering with several of the cameras in Ronkonkoma, including one on Ocean Avenue at the Long Island Expressway’s south service road on both Aug. 21 and Aug. 24. Shortly before being arrested on Tuesday afternoon, he also allegedly tampered with two other cameras on that same service road, at the intersection with Hawkins Avenue.

After an investigation, officers arrested Ruth at his home on Stewart Circle.

He was charged with four counts of third-degree criminal tampering and four counts of second-degree obstruction of governmental administration.

Attorney information for Ruth was not immediately available on Wednesday.

The red light cameras, which are maintained by Baltimore-based Affiliated Computer Services Incorporated, take photographs at busy intersections throughout Suffolk County, recording license plates of vehicles whose drivers run through a red light or do not come to a complete stop before making a right turn on a red signal. The company reviews the photos snapped — and gets final approval from the county — and for each confirmed violation, the registered owner of the vehicle receives a $50 traffic citation.

Suffolk’s red light camera program began in summer 2010, and signs alert approaching drivers at every intersection where there is a camera.

Unlike other moving violations, red light camera violations do not add points to a driver’s license, as the cameras only record rear license plates and cannot confirm the driver of a violating vehicle.

Cops charge Eddie Schmidt with grand, petit larceny as association continues search for missing finances

Former Poquott civic President Eddie Schmidt goes over civic matters over the summer. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Former Poquott Village Trustee Eddie Schmidt, who was accused of stealing more than $23,000 from the civic association while the 22-year-old was the group’s president, was arrested and charged with grand and petit larcenies last week.

Police said Schmidt, who was arrested at 10:45 a.m. on Aug. 17 at his home on Birchwood Avenue, was charged with two counts of petit larceny and one count of grand larceny for incidents of theft that occurred between September 2013 and May 2014, according to a police spokeswoman. She said Schmidt took cash from the Poquott Civic Association.

Tad Scharfenberg, an attorney representing Schmidt, called the situation “outrageous,” and said “from what I’ve seen he’s actually done nothing wrong.” In a phone interview on Tuesday, Scharfenberg defended his client and said he didn’t steal any money.

“They’re just unhappy with the way it was spent.”

Scharfenberg said Schmidt didn’t spend any of the money on himself. Asked what he spent the money on, Schmidt’s attorney said they’re analyzing that now, and he called it a “situation where I don’t think he did a great job of record keeping.”

“This is a really good kid,” Scharfenberg said. “College kid, working hard. They’re trying to blow him up and it’s not right.”

The arrest marks a milestone in a saga that had gripped the village earlier this year, when civic officials alleged he took more than $23,000 while he was the president of the Poquott Civic Association.

Officials had claimed that while president, Schmidt used money raised at civic events to purchase things unrelated to civic expenses, like gasoline, Vineyard Vines clothing and dining at gourmet restaurants.

Schmidt resigned as president of the group last September.

Earlier this year, Schmidt fired back against the accusations in an email, breaking his silence since the allegations arose late last year. He called the claims rumors.

“The silence was a courtesy as I thought the present Board was genuinely working towards a mutual agreement between us to benefit the community. Unfortunately, the board was not genuine in its dealings, and has acted contrary to resolution,” Schmidt said in the letter. “I am writing this letter now to explain the situation, as I have genuine concerns regarding the presentation of the information by the Board, and by the climate of rumor that has spread throughout our village.”

In that letter, he spoke about the events he helped bring forward as president of the civic, despite carrying a hefty workload while attending college at 19 years old.

“I did my best to work towards common ground while rumors became widespread, and incorrect information and damaging assumptions were presented.”

In March, Poquott Civic Association officials spoke publicly about a potential settlement between Schmidt and the board for $15,000. President Carol Pesek said at the time that the settlement offer was for $15,000 — $5,000 less than the money originally demanded late last year — and also included a controversial confidentiality clause that would forbid the board from speaking of the matter. There was also a nondisclosure clause that would forbid it from letting the community know where the money came from, and an agreement that Schmidt would not be prosecuted, the civic board said. But civic officials couldn’t get past the confidentiality clause.

It’s not immediately clear what happened to that settlement offer.

A motorcyclist was seriously injured on Friday when his head struck a curb in Elwood.

The Suffolk County Police Department said 44-year-old Greenlawn resident Joseph Alyward was wearing a helmet when he lost control of his bike, a 2012 Harley Davidson Legend, while traveling east on Little Plains Road. At about 6:30 p.m., near Hillock Court, his helmeted head struck a curb.

Alyward was in critical condition at Stony Brook University Hospital, police said. It did not appear that any other vehicles were involved in the crash.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 2nd Squad are investigating the incident. Anyone who may have witnessed it is asked to call them at 631-854-8252.

A patrol wagon, c. 1905, used by the 145th Precinct in Brooklyn. Photo from LIM

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook recently welcomed a terrific new addition to its carriage collection: a police wagon used by the 145th Police Precinct to patrol the waterfront areas of Gowanus, Brooklyn, in the early 1900s.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, urban police departments used a variety of different types of vehicles: Black Marias and Paddy Wagons were used to transport prisoners, and had an enclosed space in the back, with padded interior walls. The New York City Police Department purchased its first such wagon in 1886 for $500.

This patrol wagon, c. 1905, was a little more versatile and facilitated the rapid movement of police officers to scenes of disorder or disaster. The wagon has two benches for patrolmen to sit in back and rides lower and faster for pursuit and quick response. Such wagons were used right into the early automobile era.

The wagon is a gift from the Museum of the City of New York, on view on MCNY’s first floor for many years, but has been off display for more than a decade. A transfer of ownership was made to the Long Island Museum due to storage space limitations. It will now be featured in the Long Island Museum’s Streets of New York gallery in the carriage museum, a great complement to the museum’s firefighting vehicles and other urban public-use vehicles in that space.

Located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook, the Long Island Museum is a Smithsonian affiliate, dedicated to American history and art with a Long Island connection. Along with the 40,000-square-foot carriage museum, the museum also features an art museum, Blacksmith Shop, Nassakeag Schoolhouse, c. 1877, Ploch-Williamson Barn, c. 1794,  a decoy gallery in the Visitors Center and an herb garden.

The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Regular admission is $10 per person, $7 for seniors and $5 for students ages 6 to 17. Children under 6 and museum members are free. For more information call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

DWI identity crisis
Police arrested a 21-year-old Center Moriches woman at Linden Place in Port Jefferson shortly after midnight on Aug. 15 for speeding and failing to stay in her lane. According to police, the woman, who was driving while ability impaired, was in a 2012 Honda Civic and provided the officer with a fake name when she was pulled over.

On the fence
A 21-year-old man was arrested on West Broadway in Port Jefferson on Aug. 16 at 3 a.m. for criminal misconduct with the intent to damage property. According to police, the man punched and kicked a nearby fence with the help of two other men, a 24-year-old and a 21-year-old.

Can you hear me rocking?
Police said someone shattered the front windshield of a 2000 Chevrolet Blazer with a rock between Aug. 11 and 12 on Main Street in Port Jefferson. No arrests were made.

The Great Train Robbery
On Aug. 14 at 5:30 a.m., three people approached a man at the Port Jefferson Long Island Rail Road station and threw him to the ground. Police said they stole cash, jewelry and a cellphone. There have been no arrests.

Breaking and entering and exiting
Police arrested a 44-year-old man from Patchogue on Aug. 16 after he pried open the side door of Fox Linen Service on Wilson Street in Port Jefferson Station. The arrest took place at 2:35 p.m. According to the police, nothing was stolen.

Carded
Police said an unknown suspect made several unauthorized transactions on a Mount Sinai resident’s Citibank debit card on Aug. 12.

Concussed
A 49-year-old Port Jefferson woman was arrested on Aug. 12 in Selden, about a month after police said she punched another woman in the face at Portside Bar & Grill on East Main Street down Port. The victim suffered a concussion.

All in a day’s yard work
A man who arrived at a residence on Tyler Avenue in Miller Place on Aug. 14 to do yard work was assaulted by the tenant’s girlfriend.

Feel the Millburn
Someone punched a complainant in the face during a dispute on Millburn Road in Sound Beach on Aug. 12.

Tapped out
According to police, someone punched a man in the face at The North Tap on Route 25A in Mount Sinai on Aug. 15. The victim was taken to Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson to treat his injuries.

Grand larceny, grand pushing
An 18-year-old man from South Setauket was arrested at the precinct on Aug. 12 and charged with grand larceny. Police said he threatened a teller at the Chase bank on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook and demanded money. The man was also charged with obstruction. According to police, the man pushed away and attempted to grab an officer who was trying to get information regarding another investigation.

The case of the forgotten bills
While paying for items at the 7-Eleven on Old Town Road in Port Jefferson Station, a woman forgot a bank envelope with money on the counter. The incident happened at 6:18 p.m. on Aug. 14. Police said when she returned for the envelope at a later time, it was gone.

Left unlocked
Someone took a pocketbook and a wallet from an unlocked car on Longview Avenue in Rocky Point on Aug. 13, at 1:30 a.m. The case is still under investigation.

Police said an unknown male took a Cobra dash cam from an unlocked red 2002 Mitsubishi on Monticello Drive in Shoreham. There have been no arrests made in relation to the incident, which happened on Aug. 13 at 3:19 a.m.

According to police, someone entered a 2010 Honda on Dare Road in Selden between Aug. 12 at 3 a.m. and Aug. 13 at 10 p.m. and stole a Dell laptop. The case is under investigation.

Someone stole cash from a 2008 Toyota RAV4 between 11 p.m. on Aug. 13 and 1:15 a.m. on Aug. 14. Police said the car was unlocked and parked in a Port Jefferson Station driveway.

That’s an order
Police said a 23-year-old man from Mount Sinai was arrested at 11:45 a.m. on Lyon Crescent on Aug. 13. According to police, the man violated an order of protection.

Verbal argument escalates
A female driver had a verbal argument with a male operating another vehicle on Holbrook Road in Centereach on Aug. 14 at 8:37 p.m. The male got out of his car and punched the rear-driver side of the complainant’s vehicle.

Jam-packed
A 46-year-old man from Sayville was arrested in Stony Brook on Aug. 14 and charged with petit larceny. Police said the man stole socks and a backpack from Marshall’s on Nesconset Highway at about 3:30 p.m. He was arrested at the scene.

About to blow
An 18-year-old man from South Setauket was arrested by police on Aug. 13 at noon and charged with attempted second-degree grand larceny by extortion and second-degree falsely reporting an incident. Police said he called up the Chase Bank on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook and threatened to blow the bank up in an attempt to get money. The attempt was unsuccessful, police said.

Harassed
A man told police that a male suspect pulled a door on Ringneck Lane in Setauket on Aug. 13 at about 3 a.m., threatening physical harm to him. Police said the complainant said the suspect threatened to fight him. There have been no arrests.

A pair of petit larcenies
Two women, both of Bohemia, one 46 and one 16, were arrested on Aug. 15 in Setauket-East Setauket and each charged with one count of petit larceny. Police said the women took assorted merchandise from Walmart on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket and left the store without paying for the items. The incident happened at about 7 p.m., police said.

Is that a red light?
A 26-year-old Stony Brook man was arrested by police on Aug. 15 at about 3 a.m. and charged with driving while intoxicated, a first offense. Police said the man was driving a 2000 Jeep and ended up driving through a red light at the intersection of Route 25A and Nichols Road. Police interviewed the defendant and found him under the influence. He was arrested at the scene.

What interlock device?
Suffolk County police arrested a 46-year-old man from Mastic on Aug. 15 in Smithtown and charged him with using a vehicle without an interlock device. Police said the man was driving a 2006 Ford van without the device, despite a court order. He was arrested at 10 a.m. at the LIE westbound on Commack Road.

Can’t stay in the lines
A 22-year-old Kings Park man was arrested in Smithtown on Aug. 13 and charged with first-degree driving while intoxicated. Police said the man was driving a 1997 Mercedez Benz northbound on St. Johnland Road in Smithtown at about 2 a.m. when he drove onto the shoulder and failed to maintain his lane. He was arrested at the scene in the vicinity of River Heights Drive.

Crash ’n dash
Police arrested a 22-year-old woman from Brentwood on Aug. 13 and charged her with operating a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage. Police said the woman was driving a 2015 Honda Civic on Oser Avenue in Hauppauge, when she went through a steady red traffic light and crashed into a 2010 Nissan, damaging the vehicle. There were no injuries. The incident occurred at 6:37 a.m. and police arrested the woman later at Veterans Highway and Old Willets Path in Smithtown at about 11 a.m.

One bump too much
A 27-year-old woman from Kings Park was arrested in Smithtown on Aug. 13 and charged with first-degree operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs. Police said the woman hit the rear bumper of a vehicle stopped in front of her on East Main Street in Smithtown at about 9:08 p.m. She was arrested at the scene a short time later.

Wheeled away
A pair of people told police two bikes  left in a wooded area on West Main Street in Smithtown on Aug. 15 were gone when they returned to them. The incident happened sometime between 6:30 and 7:17 p.m.

Party foul
Police said a man went to a house party on Queen Anne Place in Hauppauge on the evening of Aug. 15 and was beaten up by a group of 15 men there. Cops said the man didn’t know the people at the house party but asked if he could enter and was granted permission to attend. He told police that the men approached him and began kicking and punching him in the face and head. He went to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown for treatment of injuries. The incident happened at about 9:45 p.m.

Ttyl, ATV
Someone stole a 2008 Yamaha Raptor ATV from the front yard of a home on Old Willets Path in Smithtown sometime between 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 13 and 3 p.m. on Aug. 14. There have been no arrests.

Graffiti mystery
Police received reports of two separate incidents of graffiti on Lake Avenue in St. James last week. Cops said that someone made graffiti on the Eddy’s Power Equipment Inc. building sometime between Aug. 12 and 14. Police got another report of graffiti, this time on a building and PVC fence, sometime between Aug. 13 and 14.

A fit at Flowerfield
Someone smashed a glass mirror of a restroom at Flowerfield in St. James, broke a paper towel dispenser, emptied a fire extinguisher in the hallway and stole the fire extinguisher from the business. The incidents occurred between Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 13 at 7 a.m.

Fleeting feeder
Someone stole a bird feeder from a location on Lake Avenue in Saint James sometime between 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 12 and 2 p.m. on Aug. 13.

Suffolk and Nassau County fire departments tried to smoke their competition on Saturday, Aug. 15, at New York State’s annual Motorized Drill, at Fireman’s Memorial Park in Ridge.

Fifty drill teams competed to earn the title of state champion at the event, which featured eight challenges including the 3 Man Ladder; the Motor Hook and Ladder class B and C contests; the Motor Hose class B and C contests; Efficiency; Motor Pump and Buckets.

While two teams, the Central Islip Hoboes and the West Sayville Flying Dutchmen, were crowned co-champions, the Miller Place Extinguishers didn’t place in the competition. Other local teams like the Selden Slowpokes competed in the event, but they also didn’t place in the competition. The Rocky Point Rum Raiders didn’t attend the event.

The Extinguishers placed sixth in the 3 Man Ladder challenge, but took the 23rd place in the B Ladder challenge. They then came in 29th place for the B Hose and Efficiency challenge. The team didn’t participate in the C Ladder and C Hose challenges, but they came in 14th for the Motor Pump and 28th for the Buckets portions of the competition.

According to Michael Heller of the New York State Drill Teams organization that helps plan the event, the eight obstacles in the competition are similar to those used to train firefighters. Although the competition is entertaining, Heller and Chief Michael Matteo of the Selden Fire Department said that the event helps with teamwork and relationship building.

“When you join a team — a competition team — everyone has their role to play, so they all work together as a team to accomplish the goal,” Heller said. “Firefighters on a team are used to working well with each other, and understand working with each other. Teamwork is critical when you’re in a fire to understand what a person is doing and what to do next.”

These competitions began in the 1800s, according to Heller and Matteo, but Matteo added that there are few places where 40 or more groups of people in New York State can get together, compete and congratulate their fellow competitors for their participation in the event.

On September 6, 1872 the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York was established in Auburn, which led to more organized competitions among the fire departments.

“They started with only the old fashion where it was all pull carts and steam engines and things like that, and then they moved into the motorized,” Matteo said.

The competition was the biggest event that the Selden Fire Department hosted thus far. They have held smaller events for the fire departments in the past, like the Selden Invitational Firefighter’s Drill.

Matteo also said there were around three teams that came back to compete in the Motorized Drill competition, as participants had been lacking in previous years, and few times there were repeat competitors. Additionally, there were around seven teams that could have taken first place after the Buckets challenge, the last part of the competition, but didn’t have as many points as the co-champions, making for a highly-contested day. According to Matteo, this typically doesn’t happen, but said it was nice to see.

“It’s just a great thing for the fire service,” Matteo said of the competition. “Ninty-five percent of firefighters are volunteers, so we’re giving our time when we’re not working one or two jobs. We’re taking away [time] from our families and we’re going out there.”

Photo from SCPD

It was like a scene out of “Mission: Impossible” — four guys damage a vacant building at the Vanderbilt Museum and then flee to a waiting boat and get away.

The Suffolk County Police Department said it is on the hunt for the suspects, who allegedly damaged a door and roof panel on a building at the Centerport museum on Little Neck Road on Friday afternoon.

Police said after a witness noticed the vandals, the men fled in a red boat that had been parked on the adjacent beach.

Officers from the SCPD’s 2nd Precinct Crime Section and Suffolk County Crime Stoppers are asking for the public’s help to identify and locate the men, who are wanted for criminal mischief. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS. There is a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

Suffolk County police car. File photo

The Suffolk County Police Department arrested a Staten Island man early Friday morning after officers allegedly found him stealing 800 pounds of cooking oil from two local restaurants.

Police said the officers, Daniel Denig and John McAleavey of the 2nd Precinct, were patrolling in Huntington at 6 a.m. when they spotted a man stealing cooking oil from a holding container behind the New York Avenue businesses, New York Pizza and New China Restaurant.

The two restaurants, in a strip of stores off of New York Avenue just west of Lowndes Avenue, put their used cooking oil into that holding container, police said, and the container is owned by Newark-based biofuel recycling company Darling International.

Officers arrested the suspect, 36-year-old Joskey Henry, and charged him with petit larceny. The suspect is a resident of a neighborhood in northeastern Staten Island, near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Attorney information for the defendant was not immediately available.

A police department spokesperson said in a phone interview Friday that Henry’s vehicle was “impounded for evidence,” but the exact details of the vehicle’s connection to the crime were not immediately clear.

Police are still investigating the case.

Cops say arrests are up and recent violence gang-related

Christina Fudenski, a Greenlawn resident, speaks with police officer Angela Ferrara at South Huntington Public Library on Wednesday, Aug. 12. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Residents of Huntington are calling for an increase in staffing at the Suffolk County Police Department’s 2nd Precinct in the wake of three separate shootings that occurred in less than a month.

Deputy Inspector William Read assured community members gathered at South Huntington Public Library on Wednesday, Aug. 13, that the police force is completely competent in its current size, but residents were not convinced.

“We want to ask for outside help,” Jim McGoldrick, a Huntington Station resident said. “We can’t go on this way, our kids are being shot at.”

Luis Hernandez, 21, Aaron Jolly, 18, and Nelson Hernandez, 22, all survived shootings in the Huntington Station and Greenlawn area in late July and August. Luis Hernandez and Jolly both suffered from gunshot wounds to their legs, and Nelson Hernandez was shot in the back.

“What we’re doing is working, our program is effective, and crime stats are down dramatically,” Read said. “We are having success, but it can’t be 100 percent.”

The police associate many of the recent problems in the area with gangs, and Read said that gang cops have been out undercover investigating these cases constantly. He said there are a number of social programs combatting gang issues as well.

But the crowd argued that not enough is being done, and that more problems are arising.

Lisa MacKenzie, a Huntington resident, asked what the police are doing about the ongoing problem of intoxicated individuals passing out in the streets in Huntington Station.

“Why are these individuals taken to the hospital and not arrested?”

Officer Angela Ferrara explained that it is always the duty of the police and the standard procedure to treat someone medically first. She also noted that this has become a concern in many different areas in Huntington.

“What if I am on Depot Road in the future and hit [someone] who is intoxicated and attempting to cross the street, who will actually get in trouble then?” MacKenzie said. “We need drunk crossing signs, instead of deer crossing signs.”

Residents also complained about the how 911 dispatchers handle calls. Several said in the past, dispatchers have told them to either leave their car or house to get closer to a scene.

“They had the nerve to tell me to flag down one of the patrol cars when I called, and to get out of my car…this is putting the public at risk,” Nicholas Wieland, of The Huntingtonian news website, said. “You guys have some homework to do with the 911 service.”

Robert Finnerty, a Huntington Station resident, brought his son to the meeting, and said he is now afraid to go outside.

“We have people in the street across from us saying ‘I will shoot you in the street, I will kill you,’ and it’s scaring my son,” Finnerty said. He said the residents yelling this are people living in single dwelling homes occupied by five different families.

“We have to go after the overcrowded houses,” McGoldrick said. “It’s not fair to the police officers and fire firefighters. One of the biggest problems is how housing is handled in this town.”

As members of the audience agreed housing is a town issue, not a police one, the tone changed toward a desire to see a change in leadership in Huntington Town. Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and Councilman Gene Cook (R) were both present at the meeting, as well as Huntington Town Board candidate Jennifer Thompson, a member of the Northport-East Northport school board.

Despite the criticism throughout the night, the 2nd Precinct deputy inspector defended the department’s work.

“We’re covering all our sectors, we’ve been doing it for years,” he said.

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