Village Times Herald

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Juli Grey-Owens chants with residents at the Setauket Presbyterian Church. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The crowd’s chants were loud and in unison: “Trans lives matter. Pass GENDA now.”

Juli Grey-Owens, executive director of The Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition, joined with members of the Long Island DREAM Coalition, the Bus Riders’ Union, SEPA Mujer and the Move to Amend Coalition and other organizations on Thursday, March 17, at the Setauket Presbyterian Church to demand better transparency and representation from state Sen. John Flanagan (R- East Northport).

While the coalitions had different agendas, they all sought to deliver a message to Flanagan with hopes of sparking a serious conversation on transgender rights, public transportation issues, undocumented students and families, isolated confinement and other concerns they argued were being ignored on the state level of government.

“Right now, Long Islanders — everyday, hardworking Long Islanders — are not being seen as a priority in the state, nor by our own state representative,” said Aaron Watkins-Lopez, organizer for the Long Island Bus Riders’ Union.

Last year, Suffolk County made steps to cut various bus schedules because of a lack of state funding. Watkins-Lopez said that Sen. Philip Boyle (R-East Islip) supported getting additional transit funds, and took steps to establish a piece of legislation when former state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was working in the Senate.

Currently, transgender individuals don’t have any laws prohibiting transgender discrimination in the workplace, housing and more.

After Skelos left office because of his own legal troubles, people like Grey-Owens hoped the Senate would finally pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which was introduced in 2003 as a means of outlawing discrimination in New York State based on gender identity or expression.

The state Assembly passed the bill eight years in a row, but was never brought to a vote in the Senate. Grey-Owens said she hoped Flanagan would bring the bill for a vote when he became Senate majority leader.

According to Grey-Owens, Flanagan said he would support the bill in 2014 if it came to the floor for a vote.

“He refuses to bring the bill to the floor and transgender New Yorkers are forced to wait another year to possibly receive the same rights that all New Yorkers enjoy,” Grey-Owens said during the meeting.

Although Flanagan was unable to make the meeting, his spokesman Scott Reif said the Senate majority leader “prides himself on being open and transparent.” He added that Flanagan’s absence wasn’t personal.

“The senator routinely meets with all groups, as he has done for 30 years throughout his entire public career, regardless of whether he agrees with them or not,” Reif said in an email. “The decision to take a meeting is never influenced by a group’s position on an issue, it is dictated solely by what his schedule will allow.”

Watkins-Lopez expressed disappointment with Flanagan’s absence and said it was imperative for state officials to meet with their constituents and acknowledge their concerns.

“We pay taxes, we pay their salaries. We’re their bosses and they need to remember that,” Watkins-Lopez said after the meeting. “They’re public servants. Serve the public not yourself.”

Flanagan’s absence at the meeting was also disappointing for Dulce Rojas, community organizer for SEPA Mujer. The nonprofit organization aims to help Latina immigrants and representatives demanded that Flanagan address their concerns.

Rojas said that human trafficking is prevalent in the area. Rojas said she “wanted to ask him to start thinking about all the residents on Long Island.”

Highway super takes systems online

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro sifts through a town map with the touch of his finger. Photo by Phil Corso

Managing one of the largest highway departments in New York State takes a lot of work, and Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) has put all of it in the palm of his hand.

As of Jan. 5, the entire department went paperless with a new electronic work order system and by the end of that month, foremen in the field either updated or closed more than 1,500 work orders using a mobile app on town-issued iPads. In an exclusive interview with TBR News Media, Losquadro and his team said the Brookhaven highway department has raised the bar for municipalities across the state.

“To me, this is nothing short of transformative,” Losquadro said. “Improving efficiencies of the highway department has been one of my priorities since taking office three years ago.”

In the past, Brookhaven residents hoping to see something as simple as a pothole being repaired in front of their home would need to file a work order, which an office staffer would enter into a computer, print out and then deliver to a foreman, typically taking five to seven days before resolution. But now, the highway superintendent said, the information can be shared almost immediately.

“We owe that to our customers, because they deserve the response that a customer from any business should get,” Losquadro said, referring to his Brookhaven constituents.

The new paperless system capitalized on already existing geographic information systems the town had invested in over recent years to help create one cohesive platform, allowing town employees to view, update and create work orders in real time, from the field. And through each step of development, Losquadro said foremen and town workers who would be using the technology on a daily basis provided their feedback.

Matt Sabatello, who works in the town’s tech department, worked alongside a dedicated crew of in-house developers to grow the mobile application and make it accessible for all town employees. With more than a decade of experience working with the town already under his belt, Sabatello said he has seen the arc of technological advancement go into overdrive under Losquadro’s direction.

Some of the interactive features Losquadro and his team helped to launch over the past year included color-coded visual queues identifying outstanding work orders, a display of all open work orders prioritized by the date created and a new “follow me” GPS-enabled feature that could be used to identify problem areas as well as track town vehicles when they are out in the field.

“If you see something, create a work order,” Losquadro said, playing off the Metropolitan Transportation Authority slogan, “if you see something, say something.”

And the efficiencies stretch far beyond a run-of-the-mill pothole fix, too. John Giannott, a senior administrator with the highway department, said the mobile technology has made Brookhaven’s response time to serious weather events such as severe snowfall nearly two hours quicker.

“We keep finding new uses for this every day,” he said. “It puts you ahead of the curve, because all your assets are tracked.”

The “green” technology has also allowed the town to apply for state grants and emergency relief funds in a more efficient way, making Brookhaven that much more equipped for more green.

Looking ahead, Losquadro said he hoped to see other facets of Brookhaven government follow suit in implementing such technology. He said he has already seen an interest from the town board to use similar platforms to track constituent complaints.

“I had a vision of how I wanted to transform this department,” he said. “Working with them allowed us to move to this point in less than three years.”

File photo

The Suffolk County Police Department arrested the owner of a Stony Brook market over the weekend for allegedly having an employee younger than 18 years old sell alcohol to a minor, authorities said.

Cops combed through several North Shore businesses across East Setauket and Port Jefferson Saturday night before they collared Sein Sein Win, 49, of Stony Brook, who owns the University Asian Market at 1099 Rt. 25A in Stony Brook. Police said she employed a clerk who sold alcohol to a minor and issued her a field appearance ticket.

The business owner was scheduled to appear in court on May 12, authorities said.

Other establishments police inspected that were ultimately in compliance with the law included the BP gas station at 728 Rt. 25A in East Setauket; Shell gas station, located at 195 Route 25A, East Setauket; Port Jefferson Village Grocery, located at 328 Main St. Port Jefferson; 76 gas station, located at 200 Patchogue Rd. Port Jefferson;  Kool Mart, located at 600 Hallock Rd. Port Jefferson Station; Speedway gas station, located at 501 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station; Speedy Mart, located at 1034 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station and the Speedway gas station, located at 1445 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station.

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Dream season ends with coaching change

Steve Pikiell had high hopes for this season, and full confidence that this would be a special year and the Stony Brook men’s basketball head coach was right — the Seawolves made it all the way to the NCAA tournament for the first time as a Division I team. And even though they suffered a first-round elimination, members of the team and its fans said they would remember the experience as one of great success.

“I knew it would happen — you’ve got to have a special group,” said Pikiell.

He recognized the talent in his seniors, and the group that came together over four years to break through to the Round of 64 in the NCAA tournament.

Just a few years ago, it was difficult to fill Pritchard Gymnasium with 1,000 people. This season, the now-named Island Federal Credit Union Arena sold out. Some of those dedicated fans stuck by the team, in good times and bad.

Those were the fans who sat on the steps in front of the arena after their loss, anxiously waiting for their history-making America East conference champions to arrive. Despite the plane landing late, devotees waited for one last warm welcome, and honored the Seawolves who brought them so much joy this season with chants of “S-B-U.”

“We’ve looked forward to this for many, many years, so it’s a great success,” said Sam DiCanio II, of Stony Brook, who has been watching the team since his 9-year-old son was in the womb. “It was a tough draw, Kentucky is a tough team, but we showed that we’re on the right path.”

No. 13 Stony Brook may have fallen, 85-57, to No. 4-seeded University of Kentucky last Thursday night in a game shown on CBS TV, but fans didn’t drop them.

“[Playing against] Kentucky was good for us for the experience and for all the players and recruits to see us with all of our pros,” DiCanio’s young son said. “The excitement in that final home game was amazing.”

Followers felt the stadium rocking.

“No one was sitting,” said Maureen Zajac, a graduate of Stony Brook who lives in Shoreham with her 11–year-old son Anthony.

The two have been season ticket holders for two years now, and Zajac said she was overcome with emotion because of how far the team has come.

“Every day you read the newspaper and you cry. It’s fantastic. We’re so proud of them,” she said, holding up a banner. “We wrote we’re so proud because we’ve got to celebrate. They did an amazing job this year. The boys are amazing. They’re excellent role models.”

The class act trio of seniors waved hello to fans as they exited the bus, and waved goodbye to the end of a historic run — and the end of their Seawolves careers.

Warney, a three-time America East Player of the Year who scored a career-high 43 points in his last home game of his college career and 23 points and 15 rebounds in the Round of 64 contest, said he appreciates those fans who stuck around not just on that March 18 evening, but over the last four years.

“It was a long, hard season,” Warney said. “The heartbreaks, the adversity and the success. The community has been behind us for the last four years and they’ve been through a lot of heartbreaks, too, and everyone has just come back stronger and more supportive and it keeps us balanced. They make Stony Brook a hard place to play at.”

But the team, and especially Warney, who accounted for his 21st double-double of the season and 60th of his career, is what put Stony Brook on the map.

“Carson [Puriefoy] is fast, he has a good hang and an amazing shot, and Warney blocks everyone’s shots,” Anthony Zajac said.

Puriefoy added 10 points, and Rayshaun McGrew tied a career-high three steals. Ahmad Walker, a junior, finished with eight rebounds and three assists.

The team became an object that students, family members and community members could rally around.

“This experience brought back a lot of memories,” said Ronald Gerry. Like the times he’d go to University of Pennsylvania to be with his daughter, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), and watch games: “We meet a lot of our friends, my wife Pam and I, and we all cheer together and talk. It’s a weekly outing.”

For Warney, who was named Tuesday Eastern College Athletic Conference Division I Player of the Year, the experience was also great to be a part of.

“It was a lot of exposure,” he said of being on that court in Des Moines, Iowa. “I came in an 18-year-old kid not knowing anything and being homesick every day, to trying to finally achieve what we’ve been working for. I am grateful to be a part of it.”

Pikiell said the team would be back next year with players in the program who continue to work hard.

“We’re excited about the future, too,” he said.

But Pikiell won’t be there to witness the hard work pay off firsthand. In a shock announcment just days after the Seawolves’ NCAA tournament appearance, the Stony Brook resident signed a five-year deal with a starting annual salary of $1.4 million to head the program at Rutgers University.

He will end his time with Stony Brook alongside his senior athletes.

Warney finished his illustrious career with 2,132 points, 1,275 rebounds and 276 blocks. Puriefoy ended his with 1,572 points, ranking him fourth all-time in Division I program history. And McGrew will go down in Stony Brook history as the first Seawolf to score a basket in the Division I tournament. Stony Brook’s senior class finished with a 97-38 record, the winningest class in school history.

“We started this journey in Germany on a European trip and we ended it in Iowa,” Pikiell said. “It was an exciting year, it was a hard year and there’s a lot of terrific moments — 18 wins in a row, winning the league, playing a home game here for the championship, cutting the nets down — so a lot of good memories.”

Warney said some of those good memories wouldn’t have happened without the staff and his teammates, but especially his coach.

“He’s one of the best coaches in the conference,” Warney said. “He obviously knows what he’s doing. Pikiell always said it’s hard to make history, and we finally did it. We were motivated. We played together and we found a formula to win.”

“[Playing against] Kentucky was good for us for the experience and for all the players and recruits to see us with all of our pros,” said Stony Brook resident Sam Dicanio III. “The excitement in that final home game was amazing.”

Followers felt the stadium rocking.

“No one was sitting,” said Maureen Zajac, a graduate of Stony Brook who lives in Shoreham with her 11–year-old-son Anthony.

The two have been season ticket holders for two years now, and Zajac said she was overcome with emotion because of how far the team has come.

“Every day you read the newspaper and you cry. It’s fantastic. We’re so proud of them,” she said, holding up a banner. “We wrote we’re so proud because we’ve got to celebrate. They did an amazing job this year. The boys are amazing. They’re excellent role models.”

The class act trio of seniors waved hello to fans as they exited the bus, and waved goodbye to the end of a historic run, and the end of their Seawolves careers.

Warney, an America East Player of the Year who scored a career-high 43 points in his last home game of his college career and 23 points and 15 rebounds in the Round of 64 contest, said he appreciates those fans who stuck around not just on that March 18 evening, but over the last four years.

“It was a long, hard season,” Warney said. “The heartbreaks, the adversity and the success. The community has been behind us for the last four years and they’ve been through a lot of heartbreaks, too, and everyone has just come back stronger and more supportive and it keeps us balanced. They make Stony Brook a hard place to play at.”

But the team, and especially Warney, who accounted for his 21st double-double of the season and 60th of his career, is what put Stony Brook on the map.

“Carson is fast, he has a good hang and an amazing shot, and Warney blocks everyone’s shots,” Anthony Zajac said.

Carson Puriefoy added 10 points, and Rayshaun McGrew tied a career-high three steals. Ahmad Walker, a junior, finished with eight rebounds and three assists.

The team became an object that students, family members and community members could rally around.

“This experience brought back a lot of memories,” said Ronald Gerry. Like the times he’d go to University of Pennsylvania to be with his daughter, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), and watch games. “We meet a lot of our friends, my wife Pam and I, and we all cheer together and talk. It’s a weekly outing.”

For Warney, the experience was also great to be a part of.

“It was a lot of exposure,” he said of being on that court in Des Moines, Iowa. “I came in an 18-year-old kid not knowing anything and bring homesick every day, to trying to finally achieve what we’ve been working for. I am grateful to be a part of it.”

Pikiell said the team would be back next year with players in the program who continue to work hard.

“We’re excited about the future, too,” he said.

But Pikiell won’t be there to witness the hard work pay off first hand. Just days after Stony Brook’s first tournament appearance, the Stony Brook resident signed a five-year deal with an annual contract salary of $1.6 million to head the program at Rutgers University.

He will end his time with Stony Brook alongside his senior athletes.

Warney finished his illustrious career with 2,132 points, 1,273 rebounds and 276 blocks. Puriefoy ended his with 1,572 points, ranking him fourth all-time in Division I program history. And McGrew will go down in Stony Brook history as the first Seawolf to score a basket in the Division I Tournament. Stony Brook’s senior class finished with a 97-38 record, the winningest class in school history.

“We started this journey in Germany on a European trip and we ended it in Iowa,” Pikiell said. “It was an exciting year, it was a hard year and there’s a lot of terrific moments — 18 wins in a row, winning the league, playing a home game here for the championship, cutting the nets down — so a lot of good memories.”

Warney said some of those good memories wouldn’t have happened without the staff and his teammates, but especially, his coach.

“He’s one of the best coaches in the conference,” Warney said. “He obviously knows what he’s doing. Pikiell always said it’s hard to make history, and we finally did it. We were motivated. We played together and we found a formula to win.”

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A baseball game at Chicken Hill field. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

“Seek out the spot where the Setalcott Indians first camped. They called it ‘land at the mouth of the creek.’ You’ll know when you come to it because you’ll be standing on Holy Ground. From there it’s an easy step to Christian Avenue.” — Glenda Dickerson

The first lines of the play about the Christian Avenue community, produced in 1988 at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, took us back to a time before recorded history in Setauket, a time when Indian family groups occupied all of Long Island.

These natives left no monuments to be remembered by, no changes that would permanently alter the landscape. As a result, we know very little about their lives. The archaeological remains discovered at the places where they worked, lived and died provide only scant clues.

When the English settlers first came to the “land at the mouth of the creek,” they brought with them their knowledge of how to change the land to make it conform to their patterns of life. They dammed the stream and built a gristmill. They built permanent homes, erected walls and fences, cleared the trees and planted grains, and they buried their dead with permanent stone markers. The early settlers also dealt in another kind of property; they bought and sold Black slaves.

The first recorded notation of slavery in the three villages is listed in the Town records of 1674. “Richard Floyd, of Setakett, sold the … Negro, named Antony, to John Hurd, of Stratford.” It is also recorded that Floyd had purchased Antony two years earlier from Robert Hudson of Rye.

This story of the arrival of black slaves into the Setauket community was detailed in June of 1988 for theatergoers who took a bus tour to the Christian Avenue Community as part of an evening that culminated with the exhibit and play “Eel Catching in Setauket.”

The bus tour took the “eel catchers” — theatergoers — to the Bethel A.M.E. Church on Christian Avenue, where they were given a short message about the church and the community and led in a song and a word of prayer. A tour of the Laurel Hill Cemetery was followed by a fellowship meal served by members of the Christian Avenue community in the Irving Hart Post American Legion Hall.

The “eel catchers’” bus ride back to the Fine Arts Center of the State University at Stony Brook included a tour of some of the locations in Setauket that are part of the oral history and folklore of the Christian Avenue community. Much of the oral history was preserved in the May 1988 Journal of the Three Village Historical Society, which was given to each “eel catcher.” In one oral-history interview, Violet Rebecca (Sells) Thompson brought the Christian Avenue community full circle to the first settlers on Long Island. “ … I went to school in Setauket Union School up on the hill — Education Hill. There were a lot of nationalities. I think we were the only Indians in there … we were the only Americans in the class. … The rest of the kids were Irish … Polish … Lithuanians, all from Europe.”

The play “Eel Catching in Setauket” was in the Fine Arts Center. The exhibits and photographs of the Christian Avenue community were placed all through the theater room and the “eel catchers” wandered through the exhibit viewing the artifacts of the community residents.

The play was a series of vignettes based on the collected materials, performed by eight actors and actresses under the direction of Glenda Dickerson. It took place in the center of the exhibit-theater and around the various exhibits while the “eel catchers” watched and listened to the drama unfold all around them.

The Three Village Historical Society exhibit, “Eel Catching in Setauket” and “A Living Library-The African-American, Christian Avenue Community,” was displayed in Brookhaven Town Hall during the month of February.

Divers with the Suffolk County Police Department pursue the aircraft as the missing person search continues. Photo from Margo Arceri

Story last updated on 3.22.16, at 11:20 a.m.

By Elana Glowatz

A dead body found on a beach near Port Jefferson Harbor is not the man who went missing following a plane’s crash-landing at the end of February.

The Suffolk County Police Department said Thursday that Homicide Unit detectives are investigating the man’s death, but it appears he drowned. Authorities identified him as 28-year-old Marlon Lewis, who is homeless.

A Port Jefferson Village code enforcement officer found the body at about 1:45 p.m., police said, at which point police officers responded to the scene at the beach.

Code Chief Wally Tomaszewski said in a phone interview that the code bureau’s Sgt. Steve Grau spotted Lewis’ body in the water near the Centennial Park beach from his position on the village’s dock, in front of the Village Center. The sergeant originally thought the victim was a woman because he was in a dress, according to the chief.

Tomaszewski said the code officers have seen Lewis around the village for the last five years or so, usually uptown in the morning, and he would get food at a soup kitchen in the downtown area on Mondays.

According to police, the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office will perform an autopsy.

Lewis’ body washed up almost four weeks after a small plane, carrying four people, crash-landed in Setauket Harbor near Poquott.

The Piper PA-28 had taken off from Fitchburg, Mass., and was headed for Republic Airport in Farmingdale on Feb. 20 when it experienced engine trouble and the student pilot, 25-year-old Bronx resident Austricio Ramirez, handed the controls over to his instructor.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a report two weeks later that said the aircraft, flying at about 2,000 feet, had low amounts of fuel and had been operating for about five hours since last having its tank filled. The engine eventually lost power and the instructor, 36-year-old Queens resident Nelson Gomez, tried to head for the shoreline, but it was too dark to see it.

That’s when the instructor landed the plane on the water, and told his passengers to take a life vest and exit the plane. However, according to the NTSB report, they were not wearing the vests when they got out of the plane, which floated for about five minutes before sinking nose-first.

Emergency personnel rescued Ramirez, Gomez and a third man, Wady Perez, a 25-year-old from Queens. But the fourth passenger, 23-year-old Queens man Gerson Salmon-Negron, is still missing.

Three’s company
A 27-year-old man from Dix Hills, a 29-year-old woman from Commack and a 46-year-old man from Dix Hills were arrested on March 10 at 9:15 p.m. inside a 2004 Mercedes-Benz parked on Village Hill Drive in Dix Hills after police found drugs in their possession. The 27-year-old man was charged with two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance for having crack cocaine and heroin on him, according to police. The 29-year-old woman was charged with one count of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after police said they found her in possession of cocaine. The 46-year-old was charged with two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance for prescription pills and cocaine, police said.

Cut off
Police said a 21-year-old man from Greenlawn punched a man in the face, causing cuts, at a municipal parking lot on Elm Street in Huntington on March 13 at 3:40 a.m. He was arrested and charged with third-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury.

Kiss of theft
A 26-year-old man from Brooklyn was arrested on March 12 just before 5 p.m. after police said he stole lipstick and denim jeans from Lord & Taylor in Huntington. He was charged with petit larceny.

Pail protection
Police said an unknown man used a plastic garbage pail to hide various items he stole while inside Island Thrift in Huntington Station at 11:30 a.m. on March 12.

Dunkin’ Donuts drama
On March 11, a 32-year-old man from Huntington was arrested after police said he stole a wallet and assorted cash from a vehicle parked in the parking lot of Dunkin’ Donuts on Wall Street in Huntington at 1:20 p.m. He was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny.

On March 10, a 51-year-old man from Huntington was arrested at 4:30 p.m. after police said he took out a kitchen knife and started swinging it at another man in the parking lot of Dunkin’ Donuts on Wall Street in Huntington. He was charged with second-degree menacing with a weapon.

Toyota troubles
Police said a 37-year-old man from Kings Park had cocaine on him on March 9 just after 5 p.m. while driving a 1993 Toyota sedan on Townline Road in Commack. He was originally pulled over for driving with a suspended license, when police said they saw cocaine in plain sight. He was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle.

Lots of drugs
Police said a 33-year-old man from Huntington was arrested on March 11 on the corner of Dickinson Avenue and Imperial Court in East Northport after he was found to have marijuana, cocaine and prescription pills on him. He was charged with three counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and two counts of fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

You’ve got (no) mail
Police said an unknown person stole a mailbox from a front yard on Elwood Road in Elwood on March 12 at 6 p.m.

Jewlery nabbed
On March 13, at a Sears on Jericho Turnpike in Elwood, police said an unknown woman stole jewelry.

Police crack down
At about 11:30 p.m. on March 12 at the Commack Motor Inn on Jericho Turnpike, a 24-year-old woman from Queens and a 25-year-old woman from Manhattan were arrested when they were found to be in possession of Ambien and cocaine, according to police. They were both charged with seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance. A 26-year-old man from Copiague was also arrested at the scene and charged with third-degree possession of a controlled substance with the intention to sell crack cocaine, police said.

Laptops looted
On March 11, a 19-year-old man from Ronkonkoma was arrested for stealing laptops from Sachem High School North on Smith Road in Lake Ronkonkoma at about 2 a.m., police said. He was charged with third-degree burglary.

Driving with drugs
According to police, a 20-year-old man from Centereach was arrested on Dorchester Road in Lake Ronkonkoma on March 11 for possessing heroin while driving a 2005 Mitsubishi. He was charged with seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance.

Bumpy ride
At about 2 a.m. on March 10, police said a 47-year-old man from Patchogue was pulled over on Pond Road in Ronkonkoma for having items in the bed of a pickup truck that were not secured. During the stop, police discovered that he was under the influence of drugs. He was charged with first-degree operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs.

Walmart — one stop theft
Police said a 20-year-old man from Central Islip was arrested for stealing air pistols and cartridges from Walmart on Veterans Memorial Highway in Islandia at about 5 p.m. on March 10. He was charged with petit larceny.

Unapologetically unlicensed
At about 5 p.m. on March 10, a 35-year-old man from Central Islip was arrested for driving a 2004 BMW on Townline Road in Hauppauge with a suspended license, police said. He was charged with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle.

How did that get here?
Police said they responded to a call at a home on Lake Terrace Road in Ronkonkoma just before noon on March 9 and found more than two ounces of marijuana in plain view. A 49-year-old man from Ronkonkoma was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Kindly leave
A 40-year-old woman from Port Jefferson was arrested on March 9 for refusing to leave a home on Hawkins Ave in Lake Grove, police said. She was charged with third-degree criminal trespassing.

Expensive car thief
On March 9, a 45-year-old man from Amity Harbor was arrested in Hauppauge for stealing a Mercedes-Benz from a home on Wicks Lane in Head of the Harbor on Sept. 21, police said. They also said he stole cash and credit cards from a 2001 Porsche at a home on Meadow Gate East in Head of the Harbor on Sept. 20. When he arrived at the 4th Precinct, police discovered he possessed a controlled substance, and he was charged with third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, as well as seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance.

Idle Buick
Police discovered a man in a 2002 Buick parked for a prolonged period of time in the parking lot of a Marriot Hotel in Ronkonkoma at about 11 p.m. on March 9. He was found to be in possession of heroin, police said, and was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Drunk driver crash
Police said a 28-year-old man from Northport was driving drunk in a 2002 Subaru on Sunken Meadow Road in Kings Park at about 3 a.m. on March 13 when he lost control of the car and crashed into a tree. A 24-year-old man from Kings Park who was in the passenger seat was injured and transported via Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital in critical condition, police said. The driver was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Head-on
A motorcyclist is in critical condition after an allegedly drunk driver crashed into him on Sunday afternoon.
The 2003 Indian motorcycle was going east on North Country Road while a 2002 Subaru Outback was headed west on the same road, and the two collided near Mountain Ridge Drive in Mount Sinai, the Suffolk County Police Department said.
The 60-year-old motorcyclist, who is from Mount Sinai, was in critical condition at Stony Brook University Hospital, police said. A 36-year-old Rocky Point resident, the driver of the Subaru, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.
The suspect was also treated for minor injuries at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson and was released, police said.

Crash into me
Police arrested a Huntington woman for driving while ability impaired on March 12. The 59-year-old woman was in a 2003 Chevrolet on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station that night when she crashed into another car at Nesconset Highway.

Rise and shine
A 57-year-old man from Port Jefferson Station was arrested on March 11 for criminal possession of a controlled substance after officials found him unconscious in a parked 2001 Volvo. Police said the car was running and was not parked in a safe location on Davis Avenue in Port Jefferson Station. Police found the man in possession of crack cocaine and marijuana and arrested him at the scene, around 8:14 a.m.

No vacation
Police arrested a 24-year-old man from Brentwood on March 12 after he failed to maintain his lane of travel in a 2005 Mazda. Police pulled the man over near Malibu Lane in Centereach and arrested him for driving while ability impaired.

Sword of destiny
On March 9, police arrested a 23-year-old man for petit larceny. Between Feb. 9 and 13, police said, the Selden man stole a guitar and a sword from a store along Eastwood Boulevard.

Wrong way
A man from East Meadow was arrested on March 11 for driving while ability impaired in Stony Brook. According to police, the 21-year-old man was driving a 2012 Nissan south in the northbound lane of Route 25A around 1:52 a.m.

The Tudors’ violent end
Around 1:30 a.m. on March 13, an unknown person threw a large rock at a 2006 Chrysler that was parked on Tudor Road in Centereach.

Gone in 60 seconds
On March 12 around 9:14 p.m., an unidentified person entered the Sunoco gas station on Route 25A in Mount Sinai and demanded money from an employee. Police said the employee was counting the money when the suspect punched the victim in the face and fled with the cash. According to police, the employee didn’t need medical assistance.

Might as well jump
Police said two unidentified people got into a confrontation on March 11 around 4:50 p.m. on Ruland Road in Selden. According to police, the suspect jumped on and damaged the other individual’s 2005 BMW.

Go ahead and jump
Police arrested a 25-year-old man on March 11 for driving while ability impaired, after authorities said the Miller Place man, who had been driving a 1998 Ford from Route 25A onto Broadway in Rocky Point, pulled over and jumped the fence of King Auto Sales.

Bent out of shape
According to police, on March 8 around 12:20 p.m. a man reported that the side of his 2011 Ford was smashed and the parking brake was bent.

Plebe’s rebellion
On March 8, a woman entered the King Kullen on Middle Country Road in Selden and stole several shopping bags of assorted items before fleeing in a white Dodge.

Thieves flushed with jewels
On March 10, between 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., someone entered a residence on Market Path in Setauket-East Setauket and stole jewelry. Police said the suspect entered the home through a second-floor bathroom window.

According to police, a woman returned to her Stony Brook residence to find an unknown man in her living room who then fled with money and jewelry. Police said the incident happened on March 12 around 11:10 p.m.

Drugs and rock ‘n’ roll
Between 7:30 a.m. on March 7 and 1:14 p.m. the following day, someone entered a residence on Eastport Drive in Sound Beach, ransacked the house and stole drugs and music equipment.

Deforestation
On March 7 around 7:25 a.m., someone damaged the front door frame of a residence on Forest Road in Rocky Point.

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East Setauket native to look into North Shore development

Robert Reuter speaks at an event at the Setauket Post Office. File photo

The North Shore’s economic well-being relies on the community coming together and having meaningful conversations, and the Three Village Community Trust is helping to do just that.

The group announced it would be hosting its second talk in the “Join the Conversation” series on Thursday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m. at the Setauket Neighborhood House, with Robert Reuter discussing the last century’s commercial development along Route 25A.

Reuter, an East Setauket native, has been involved with Three Village’s various historical and cultural organizations for years and currently is also president of the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation, a founder of the Three Village Community Trust, and a member of Brookhaven’s Historic District Advisory Committee. Reuter earned a bachelor of architecture degree from Virginia Tech and is known for his product design work for Knoll Furniture.

“The Three Village area as we know it today began with communities located for their relationships to the water, both fresh and salt,” Reuter said. “These population centers grew to support their own commercial areas and community centers primarily linked by North Country Road, the major route for east-west travel on Long Island’s North Shore. North Country Road became State Route 25A, and as our population grew and automobiles became ubiquitous, 25A provided the spine for commercial growth of our linear downtown.”

This presentation will concentrate on the Setauket and East Setauket area, illustrating the changes in commercial activity along the North Country Road, Route 25A corridor over the last century. It will also include a segment with photographs and maps from the Three Village Historical Society archive.

The Three Village Community Trust’s “Join the Conversation” series focuses on the quality of life and sustainability in the Three Village community.

“What makes a great community also contributes to its sustainability: people who care and are engaged, great open spaces for nature and for people to enjoy, a vibrant local economy with good jobs, walkability, and a diversity of housing and transportation choices,” the group said in a statement. “Because the Town of Brookhaven is embarking on a land use study and plan for the NYS Route 25A corridor — our own Main Street — most of the series will address issues that relate to community planning and to the corridor. We urge everyone to be a part of these conversations.”

All programs will be held at Setauket Neighborhood House. They are open to all and free — a donation of $5 would be welcome to cover expenses. Refreshments will be served.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota outlines the investigation on Wednesday. Photo by Alex Petroski
A makeshift memorial is erected at the scene of the fatal Cutchogue crash. Photo by Phil Corso
A makeshift memorial is erected at the scene of the fatal Cutchogue crash. Photo by Phil Corso

By Phil Corso & Alex Petroski

Story last updated 3.17.16, 8:15 a.m.

A fatal crash was the result of a limousine’s dangerous U-turn at a busy intersection in Cutchogue, and on Wednesday, a special grand jury placed the blame on the driver.

Carlos F. Pino, 58, of Old Bethpage, surrendered to police Wednesday and was arraigned on four charges of criminally negligent homicide, four counts of assault, failure to yield the right of way, reckless driving and other traffic violations, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said. Pino was attempting a U-turn near the intersection of Depot Lane and County Route 48 on July 18 when Steven Romeo, 55, of Peconic, T-boned the limo, killing four and injuring six.

The crash killed Smithtown’s Brittney Schulman, 23, and Lauren Baruch, 24, as well as Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park, and Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack, who were all riding in a limousine in the middle of a weekend wine tour on the eastern part of the Island. The collision also injured passengers Joelle Dimonte, 25, of Elwood, Melissa Angela Crai, 23, of Scarsdale, Alicia Arundel, 24, of Setauket, and Olga Lipets, 24, of Brooklyn. Romeo, the DA said, was operating the truck under the influence of alcohol and was charged with driving while intoxicated the day of the crash.

Pino pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday and was given a cash bail $50,000 and bond of $100,000. His next court date was scheduled for April 19. Romeo also pleaded not guilty to two counts of driving while intoxicated and one charge of driving while ability impaired by alcohol on Wednesday and was released with his next court date set for April 26.

“I think they may have been somewhat surprised,” Spota said when family members of the victims were notified that Pino, and not Romeo, would be indicted as a result of the crash. “They either expected that it would be the other way around, that Romeo would be the party who would be completely at fault, or perhaps it was just a totally unavoidable accident. Indeed, what the grand jury has found out is that it was totally unavoidable, only as to Romeo, but not as to Pino.”

At the scene, Pino had told police he did not see any oncoming traffic, Spota said. But the subsequent investigation revealed why.

The county had been investigating the crash over recent months, and on Wednesday, the DA announced that while Romeo may have been driving while impaired, the risky U-turn still made it nearly impossible for the collision to be avoided. The grand jury conducted a five-hour investigation of the crash and found that Pino had “limited sight lines looking into westbound traffic” because a Jeep Liberty was positioned in the intersection waiting to turn left onto Depot Lane, Spota said in a statement.

Spota said the Jeep Liberty “completely blocked the limo driver’s view of the oncoming traffic in the main travel lanes.” And despite the fact that the main westbound travel lanes were not visible, the DA said Pino failed to take any precaution to make sure he could safely enter the westbound travel lanes and he continued to make the U-turn.

“A perfectly sober Steven Romeo could not avoid this crash. An intoxicated Steven Romeo could not avoid this crash. It was simply unavoidable from Romeo’s perspective,” Spota said. “Romeo can be held criminally responsible for driving while intoxicated but he cannot be held criminally responsible for the crash.”

Related: Vineyard visit ends in tragedy for Commack, Smithtown West grads

Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said during the press conference that unfortunately many limo drivers exiting Vineyard 48 in Cutchogue try to make the dangerous left U-turn that ended up being fatal, because it is the fastest route to head back west.

“There are other ways to head back west, but that’s the easiest way for them to do it,” Flatley said.

There is now a traffic light at that intersection, Flatley said.

Spota said Romeo was heading west at about 55 miles per hour when the crash occurred. He did not see the limo enter the intersection until he was about 200 feet away, the district attorney said.

“Mr. Romeo had only 200 feet to react to the hazard he saw, and stop his vehicle,” Spota said. “Traveling at 55 mph, it would have taken 1.6 seconds to perceive the limo in his path, to realize he must apply his brakes, and then to begin braking.  This would leave Romeo with even less distance, 129 feet, to avoid a crash — impossible for him to do. In fact our experts tell us that at 55 mph it would have taken anyone 263 feet to stop and avoid the crash.”

After investigating the crash, Spota said the incident was “unavoidable,” thus keeping a grand jury from indicting Romeo for vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.

From left, Amy Grabina, Brittany Schulman, Lauren Baruch and Stephanie Belli. Photos from Facebook
From left, Amy Grabina, Brittany Schulman, Lauren Baruch and Stephanie Belli. Photos from Facebook

Belli, Baruch and Schulman were all decorated members of the national and language honor societies by the time they graduated from Smithtown High School West. Over the summer, schools Superintendent James Grossane said Belli, a 2010 graduate, had an infectious smile and was an enthusiastic student and member of the district’s championship kick line team. Baruch, a 2009 graduate, was best known for her booming laugh and unforgettable smile, Grossane said. Schulman, he said, was another 2010 graduate and had a profound love for her family.

Grabina graduated in 2010 from Commack High School and went on to pursue accounting at Florida State University, ultimately landing a job at Ernst & Young in Tallahassee, Fla.

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The Stony Brook men’s basketball team walks out to a red carpet before departing for Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Desirée Keegan

After earning its first trip to the NCAA as a Division I team, it was only fitting for the Stony Brook men’s basketball team to have a proper send-off.

Jameel Warney reaches for the rim against Vermont. Photo by Robert O'Rourk
Jameel Warney reaches for the rim against Vermont. Photo by Robert O’Rourk

Fans young and old came out donning the Seawolves’ red and white, waving pom-poms and throwing up homemade banners and posters to show support for their favorite college basketball team.

“It’s great for the school and great for the community and great for exposure,” senior Stony Brook standout Jameel Warney said. “You play to win. You play for admiration from the fans. We love the community and it’s great to be here. We’re coming out to win. We’re going to work out hardest and give it our all.”

Warney, just days prior, tallied a career-high 43 points in the Seawolves’ 80-74 victory over The University of Vermont in the America East Championship at the sold-out Island Federal Credit Union Arena.

Warney was a remarkable 18-for-22 from the field to go with a 7-for-10 showing from the free-throw line. The Seawolves senior added 10 rebounds and four blocks in his final home game at Stony Brook. Warney’s third-consecutive double-double gave him 59 for his Seawolves career. He tallied 25 of his 43 points in the second half. The 43-point, career-best performance eclipses his 36-point outing against the University of Hartford on Feb. 8. It is also the highest total in the Division I era by any Seawolves player.

The America East finals crowd shows its Stony Brook support. Photo by Robert O'Rourk
The America East finals crowd shows its Stony Brook support. Photo by Robert O’Rourk

Senior Carson “Trey” Puriefoy added 23 points to help secure the win. Puriefoy played all 40 minutes and showed how he got his nickname, draining all five of Stony Brook’s 3-pointers. He notched 16 of his 23 points in the second half, and was 8-for-10 from the free-throw line.

Puriefoy, who moved within 28 points for third on the Division I scoring list with 1,562 points as of Saturday, took to the fans to tell them how lucky the team is to have their support.

“We want to thank everyone for coming out,” he said. “We made history. You guys have been there for us all season long, we love everybody and we’re going to go to the dance and make history.”

Head coach Steve Pikiell, who is in his 11th season with the Seawolves, said he’s honored to finally get his team to the dance, and tried to break the ice as he joked about the historic No. 4-seeded University of Kentucky that his No. 13 team will be taking on Thursday at 9:40 p.m.

Jameel Warney and Carson Puriefoy embrace one another after topping Vermont for the America East Championship title and automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Photo by Robert O'Rourk
Jameel Warney and Carson Puriefoy embrace one another after topping Vermont for the America East Championship win. Photo by Robert O’Rourk

“We’re going to represent this great university and this great area the right way on Thursday night when we play a small team out there in Kentucky,” he said, laughing. “I think they have a basketball program out there.”

But on a more serious note, the coach said he appreciated all the support he’s received throughout the years, and how hard his team has worked to get to the position it’s in now.

“So many good people have helped us get to this place,” he said. “This team did something that no team in Stony Brook history did. It’s hard to make history, and they got through every obstacle this year and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

According to Pikiell, there are 358 teams that start off the season wanting to be in the NCAA tournament, and just 64 get a chance to punch a ticket to the first round.

“We did it,” Pikiell said. “We broke through.”

The team filed out to a red carpet, high-fiving the fans that cheered as they swarmed around the 14-man roster as it boarded the bus to begin the long trip to Iowa.

Carson Puriefoy drives around an opponent. Photo by Robert O'Rourk
Carson Puriefoy drives around an opponent. Photo by Robert O’Rourk

“They want to feel your energy in Des Moines, Iowa, so bring it on Thursday,” Stony Brook athletic director Shawn Heilbron said. “This team is a special team and you’re going to see some special things on Thursday night.”

The berth is the first for Stony Brook (26-6) in its Division I history. The Seawolves, known then as the Patriots, last made the NCAA tournament in 1991 as a member of Division III. Stony Brook and Kentucky faced each other in 2007, and the Wildcats held off the Seawolves, 62-52.

The game Thursday will be televised on CBS, and the winner will face Indiana University or The University of Tennessee Chattanooga in the second round.

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