Police & Fire

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The early morning fire sent one emergency responder to the hospital. Photo by Jeff Bressler

Marquette Drive in St. James became ground zero over the weekend after an early morning fire took over a residential home and sent one firefighter to the hospital, officials said.

The blaze broke out around 2:10 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9, when the Smithtown Fire Department received a report of a structural fire with possible occupants inside the home, Public Information Officer Jeff Bressler said.

The early morning fire sent one emergency responder to the hospital. Photo by Jeff Bressler
The early morning fire sent one emergency responder to the hospital. Photo by Jeff Bressler

The ferocious fight sent one Smithtown firefighter to Stony Brook University Hospital to be treated for a minor injury associated with the emergency response, Bressler said.

“Upon arrival, the call was upgraded to a fully involved structural fire,” Bressler said. “Three occupants were assisted out of the house before units arrived. The occupants were taken by the Smithtown Fire Department and Kings Park Fire Department ambulances to Stony Brook University Medical Center.”

Bressler said emergency responders deployed two hoses to fight the flames and also utilized a ladder from Company 7 for assistance.

At one point, the flames became so out of control that the fire started to spread to an adjacent house before being put out with significant damage to the siding, Bressler said.

By the time the blaze had been doused, Smithtown saw emergency response assistance from fire departments in St. James, Nesconset, Hauppauge, Kings Park and Nissequogue, Bressler said.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation, Bressler said.

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Smithtown fire marshals allege the office building at 811 W. Jericho Turnpike housed an illegal massage parlor, pictured above in the top right lot of the map. Screen capture from Google Maps

Smithtown fire marshals put a Queens woman’s hands in cuffs and charged her with violating the state’s penal law via an illegal massage parlor, officials said.

Peiyu Du, a 44-year-old woman from Flushing, was arrested July 30 and charged in connection with an illegal massage parlor raided last month in Smithtown. Public Safety initially busted the parlor on July 19 around 2 p.m. operating out of 811 West Jericho Turnpike to find what Department Director Chief John Valentine described as an elaborate hidden facility with multiple bedrooms, each holding three to four young Asian women.

Officials cited suggestive advertisements for the space on Backpage.com, promising patrons body rubs from Korean and Japanese girls for $60 to $70.

Among the multiple violations of Smithtown code included the interfering with the duties of the fire marshal, Valentine said. Du was also charged under the state’s penal law for obstructing governmental administration. She was released with a field appearance ticket and her arraignment was scheduled for Sept. 29.

The investigation will be continuing with help from the Suffolk County District Attorney.

Late last month, Valentine said the fire marshals acted in response to a request for assistance from the Smithtown Fire Department to find the parlor, filled with young Asian women in “various stages of undress.” Upon their entry, Valentine said an Asian woman confronted the fire marshals and tried to block their entrance into the location.

“The unidentified females and several apparent patrons fled the location upon entry,” Valentine said when the parlor was busted last month. “Suffolk County Police 4th Precinct officers were contacted and responded to the location.”

Inside, officials found what Valentine described as suggestive advertising and photographs promoting the services. Subsequent online searches posted that same day on Backpage.com advertised a grand opening for cash-only massage services with several provocative photos of young Asian women. The posting was listed under a “Long Island body rubs” thread.

An ongoing investigation was put into motion through the Smithtown Public Safety Department and fire marshals have uncovered multiple violations of the fire and property maintenance codes as well as town code violations, including interfering with emergency personnel, Valentine said.

It was unclear if there would be additional arrests.

File photo.

Gunshots rang out in the Huntington area twice over the weekend, leading police to find injured young men lying on the ground in separate but similar incidents.

The first shooting occurred early on Saturday morning in Huntington Station. The Suffolk County Police Department said at about 1:35 a.m., officers responded to West Hills Road and President Street after a 911 call reported the shooting. Those 2nd Precinct officers found 22-year-old local resident Nelson Hernandez lying on the sidewalk, a gunshot wound to his back.

Not even 24 hours later, just after midnight on Sunday, 2nd Precinct officers responded to Stuyvesant Street in Greenlawn, between Crown Avenue and Brand Drive, after another 911 call reporting a shooting. Police said they found 18-year-old Aaron Jolly, a Northport resident, lying in the street with a gunshot wound on his right leg.

Hernandez was in serious condition at Huntington Hospital, police said, and Jolly was treated and released from the same facility.

In both cases, police reported that the shooter was unknown. Hernandez was shot while walking on West Hills Road near President Street, and it was not clear whether there was a single shooter of multiple assailants. Jolly was reportedly standing in the street when he was shot by an unknown person.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 2nd Squad are investigating the two shootings. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 631-854-8252, or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

Joseph DiSclafani mugshot from SCPD

Police arrested a suspect in a Centereach bank robbery on Wednesday, more than a month after a man in dark clothing held the place up.

The Suffolk County Police Department said detectives relied on video surveillance and public tips through Crime Stoppers to identify the suspect, 48-year-old Centereach resident Joseph DiSclafani. Police allege he is the one who robbed the People’s United Bank on Middle Country Road on the morning of June 26, walking into the bank and passing a teller a note demanding cash.

Attorney information for DiSclafani, who was charged with third-degree robbery, was not immediately available.

Police said after the teller gave the suspect cash, he fled on foot in his dark-colored baseball cap, black T-shirt, dark jeans and sunglasses.

At the time of the robbery, police described the man as white with a heavy build, between 45 and 50 years old and about 5 feet 7 inches tall.

Once detectives from the SCPD’s Pattern Crime Unit identified DiSclafani as a suspect, they placed him under surveillance, police said. They arrested him Wednesday without incident and he was scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.

Centerport and West Islip firefighters assist in bringing the Hovercraft to shore following the rescue. Photo by Steve Silverman

A hovercraft vessel came to the rescue of two kayakers stuck in mud in a Centerport pond on Tuesday night, according to Steve Silverman, a spokesman for the Town of Huntington Fire Chiefs Council.

The Centerport Fire Department received a call around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night of a man and a woman stuck in a kayak approximately 100 yards off the shore of Mill Pond. 

Once rescuers arrived, they realized they were not able to reach the kayak due to thick mud that was restricting boat access. Centerport Fire Chief Brian Mark then made the call to the West Islip Fire Department for assistance.

West Islip’s hovercraft was the only vessel that could reach the couple, since it is able to float on air and travel over mud, ice and swampy areas a conventional boat can’t traverse.

The Suffolk Police Aviation unit assisted as well, providing a helicopter that gave light to the rescue scene.

Firefighters launched the hovercraft from an access point on Centershore Road, and were able to reach the kayak in several minutes. The Centerport Rescue Squad checked the uninjured couple. The pair was covered in dark mud.

Forty firefighters and emergency medical personnel in total participated in the rescue, which was successfully completed in slightly more than an hour with no injuries.

Franzone to be sentenced to 3.5 years in state prison

Nicholas Franzone photo from Suffolk County DA’s office

A Northport man accused of helping his uncle in carjacking a Commack woman after the uncle ran down two Suffolk County cops in Huntington last year pleaded guilty to charges relating to the crimes in court on Tuesday.

Nicholas Franzone, 23, pleaded guilty in Central Islip at a court conference to robbery, criminal possession of stolen property, unauthorized use of a vehicle, petty larceny and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, according to Bob Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota’s office.

Franzone’s crimes were for stealing gas and participating in stealing a Commack woman’s car and her credit cards as he and his uncle, Chad Moriszan, 35,were trying to dodge capture after striking officers Nicholas Guerrero and Heriberto Lugo.

They fled fleeing the scene of the hit-and-run, leaving Guerrero seriously injured. Guerrero had to be hospitalized for more than three weeks with a severe head injury. He underwent surgery and a regimen of physical therapy during his recovery.

Both Northport men were eventually arrested hours later in a Central Islip Target store on Carleton Avenue when they tried to use a stolen credit card to buy a television.

On July 23, Moriszan was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to assault in the first degree, assault on a police officer, leaving the scene, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, robbery in the second degree and forgery.

Franzone will be sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho to three and one-half years in state prison on Sept. 9.

Ian Fitzgerald, a Central Islip-based attorney who represented Franzone, said he felt the sentence term was a fair one. “He had the chance to do the right thing and he didn’t take it so he got himself in this situation,” he said.

He also said the DA dropped prior felony assaults charge against Franzone.

“Our position from the beginning was that he really had nothing to do with Mr. Moriszan running over the officer,” Fitzgerald said.

The attorney said his client didn’t even see the officers struck, and wasn’t even aware that there was a second officer on the scene. The pair of officers pulled over Moriszan and Franzone during a traffic stop.

“He’s glad that it wasn’t worse,” he said. “He’s glad that officer Guerrero survived.”

Franzone has cleaned up his act since the incident, Fitzgerald said. The attorney said his client was on drugs — prescription pills — and since being incarcerated he’s gotten clean.

“[He] seems to be a pretty intelligent young man who unfortunately got wrapped up in some bad stuff.”

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Three horses reportedly found ‘emaciated and sick’

One of the horses is so sick, its ribs are visible through the skin. Photo from Suffolk SPCA

The Suffolk County SPCA has charged a Hauppauge woman with animal cruelty after her horses were found to be emaciated and sick.

Helen Malazzo. Photo from Suffolk SPCA
Helen Malazzo. Photo from Suffolk SPCA

SPCA Chief Roy Gross said that Helen Malazzo, 61, of Hauppauge, kept three horses at a boarding facility at 193 South St., Manorville, that had no running water on the property. After being examined by a veterinarian, one of the horses was found to be so sick and emaciated that he wasn’t sure it would survive without immediate veterinary care, Gross said. The other two horses were also allegedly neglected. 

Gross also said that the SPCA seized all three horses and they are now in foster care receiving the proper attention. Malazzo returns to First District Court in Central Islip on Oct. 5.

Gross asked the public to help cover the veterinary care for the three horses by making donations to the Suffolk County SPCA. All donations are tax deductible to the extend permitted by law.

Fire district offering $1,000 reward

The Lake Grove playground that was set on fire on Sunday, July 26. Photo from Centereach Fire District

The Centereach Fire District is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for burning down a playground at Eugene Auer Elementary School.

On Sunday, July 26, Centereach firefighters responded to a call for a fire behind the Lake Grove school, according to a press release from the fire district. The plastic playground was fully engulfed, but the fire quickly put out. However, the playground was destroyed.

“This wasn’t just any playground,” Fire Commissioner Julia Wilson said. “The community pitched in, joined together and raised money to erect it.”

The Suffolk County Police Department is investigating the Sunday night incident.

The board of fire commissioners unanimously voted to offer a $1,000 reward at their meeting last week. Anyone with information related to the crime, is asked to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS (8477) or submit the information electronically at www.tipsubmit.com.

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Debate focuses on bar fights downtown, narcotics uptown

Residents and village officials butted heads with a police lieutenant on Monday night, debating the level of coverage officers provide in Port Jefferson.

The downtown commercial district, with its numerous bars and restaurants, is busy on summer nights, particularly on the weekend. Village officials have lobbied over the years to increase Suffolk County police presence downtown during those peak times, and to have more bodies in the uptown area, which sees criminal activity such as drug sales and has a consistent homeless population.

Lt. Donato Mignone said at the village board meeting Monday that there are additional officers patrolling Port Jefferson on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, pointing out that the village gets more police coverage relative to its number of police incidents. Mignone said of the 7,800 incidents the Suffolk County Police Department’s 6th Precinct handled in July, 385 of them were in Port Jefferson.

While he agreed the village deserves more attention than it gets, the department is working with limited resources and “you want to be wise with your manpower.”

But Trustee Larry LaPointe argued, “If you’re not here, there is no incident to report. If a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s there to hear it, the tree didn’t fall. That’s what’s happening in this village.”

The trustee called for more police coverage.

“There’s too much violence downtown,” LaPointe said.

The lieutenant said he would pass on the village’s concerns to his superiors. He added, “I absolutely understand, I agree, I commiserate.”

Later in the meeting, after Mignone left, LaPointe said the village might take its fight to a higher level, like the county executive’s office, if things don’t change.

“It’s their job to keep our community safe,” the trustee said. “We will exhaust every possible avenue that we can think of to bring our needs and our concerns to their attention and to push our case as hard as we can.”

Sketch from SCPD

Police have released a sketch of the woman whose skeletal remains were found near a stretch of the Greenway Trail earlier this year, and are asking for the public’s help to identify her.

The human remains were found on March 22 around 4 p.m., near a stretch of the 3.5-mile hiking and biking trail — which connects Setauket and Port Jefferson Station — off of Gnarled Hollow Road. At the time, police could not confirm whether the person was a male or female and had not determined a cause of death. But the Suffolk County Police Department said Aug. 4 that the deceased was a woman, believed to have been white or Hispanic and between 30 and 50 years old. She was between 5 feet 3 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall and had poor dental work, police said.

Police, asking for help to identify her, said her remains are believed to have been at the location for about a year.

Anyone with information is asked to call homicide detectives at 631-852-6392, or to anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

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