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Suffolk County Police Department conducted a two-week undercover sting operation on businesses that were illegally selling vaping products to minors. TBR News Media file photo

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) is looking to continue the year of firsts for law enforcement.

Bellone announced 21-year FBI veteran Geraldine Hart as his nomination to be the next police commissioner in Suffolk at a press conference Feb. 22. If confirmed by the county Legislature, Hart would be the first female police commissioner in Suffolk’s history.

“I am honored for the opportunity to serve the residents of Suffolk County and privileged to serve with the brave, hardworking men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department,” she said. “I am extremely optimistic about the future of the Suffolk County Police Department and what we can accomplish together.”

Hart was most recently the Senior Supervisory Resident Agent in charge of the FBI’s Long Island office, a position she held for four years. Hart received a bachelor of arts from St. Francis College in Brooklyn and juris doctor from St. John’s University School of Law in Queens.

“Geraldine possesses the integrity, competence and excellence that we are looking for in someone to lead the Suffolk County Police Department,” Bellone said.

In addition to her work combatting gang violence, Hart oversees complex investigations that include public corruption, white-collar crime, terrorism, counter-intelligence, child exploitation and cyber crimes. Hart is also actively engaged in liaison activities, such as providing active shooter training opportunities for county school superintendents, houses of worship, and the first FBI teen academies in Central Islip and Brentwood.

Her leadership abilities were recognized at the highest levels as the recipient of the 2015 Director’s High Impact Leadership Award, which is given to a select number of individuals in the bureau based on an anonymous survey among their peers who rank them for superior leadership abilities.

Hart began her career as an FBI special agent focused on transnational organized crime, where she helped lead and execute complex investigations and enforcement actions to dismantle violent organized crime enterprises, such as the Lucchese crime family. In 1999, Hart was assigned to the Lucchese organized crime squad, working on an investigation that led to the conviction of fugitive Frank Federico, who was responsible for the murders of garbage-industry haulers and informants Robert M. Kubecka, of Greenlawn, and Donald Barstow, of Stony Brook (United States v. Federico). That same year, Hart was awarded the Office of Inspector General’s Integrity Award.

As an FBI case agent, Hart, in 2005, worked closely with the SCPD to investigate two former NYPD detectives who secretly worked as mafia associates on behalf of the Lucchese crime family.  The investigation led to the indictments of Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who were ultimately convicted of committing murder and disclosing sensitive law enforcement information to mob bosses. The investigation also led to the discovery of a body in Brooklyn in connection with the criminal actions of these two individuals (United States v. Eppolito). For her performance on the case, Hart received the United States Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement, the highest award given out in the FBI.

In 2012, Hart was promoted to supervisory special agent to supervise a task force comprised of FBI special agents and NYPD detectives investigating the Genovese, Colombo and Bonanno crime families. In January 2014, these investigations resulted in the takedown of five organized crime members for murder, one tied to the Lufthansa heist at John F. Kennedy Airport, along with a body that was identified and dug up dating to the 1970s.

“As our next Police Commissioner, she will bring a fresh perspective and build on the progress that we have made over the last two years,” Bellone said.

Hart joins recently inaugurated Suffolk Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. in a year of firsts for the county, as he became Long Island’s first African American elected official in a nonjudicial countywide position earlier this year. Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said in a phone interview she was happy to hear of Hart’s nomination because of her integrity and experience, and also noted the significance of a woman holding the position for the first time.

This post was updated with new photos and to include videos Feb. 22.

Check back soon for more information on Hart’s nomination.

Miriam Schapiro’s ‘Berthe Morisot & Me,’ early 1970s

By Melissa Arnold

For the past 95 years, the Heckscher Museum in Huntington has worked to exhibit its varied permanent collection in new and interesting ways.

Audrey Flack’s ‘Lady Madonna,’ 1972
Audrey Flack’s ‘Lady Madonna,’ 1972

For the next few months, the museum is highlighting the contributions of female artists in an exhibit entitled You Go Girl! Celebrating Women Artists. Selected from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibit will feature 50 women artists from the 19th century through today.

The theme is the latest dreamed up by museum curator Lisa Chalif.

“We wanted to select a group of art that showcases women artists in particular,” Chalif said. “We have art from more than 100 women artists at the museum, but they are only a small percentage of the overall collection.”

Chalif added that many women have faced “significant obstacles” to their success in the visual arts, including getting into galleries.

Museum visitors will have the chance to explore art in a variety of mediums, including print, photography, painting, sculpture and mixed media. The majority of the selections are contemporary and 20th century works and are split into two rooms — one for representational art and the other for abstract art.

Chalif noted that while the exhibit focuses on women’s art, it is not a feminist exhibit. The artists explored subjects of all kinds. “We have a lot of landscape-based work — I think that’s really characteristic of our collection as a whole, and I think that has a lot to do with our location,” she said. “People that live on Long Island are often drawn to the landscape here. There are a lot of abstract styles as well. There is something here that will appeal to everyone.”

Among Chalif’s favorites are works from feminist artist Miriam Schapiro, who founded one of the first feminist art schools in the 1970s, and super-realist painter Audrey Flack’s “Lady Madonna.” “It’s nice to have [a Madonna in the exhibit] because it refers to the most recognized woman in history,” Chalif said.

Elaine de Kooning’s ‘Black Mountain #6,’ 1948
Elaine de Kooning’s ‘Black Mountain #6,’ 1948

Many of the artists in the exhibit lived on Long Island or are still in the area today, including Emma Stebbins, Jane Wilson, Barbara Roux, Janet Culbertson and Berenice Abbott. “We were able to have [some of the living artists] come out for the opening,” Chalif said. “They have expressed how thrilled they are to be featured along with artists they’ve had as mentors or personal favorites. It’s gratifying for them and for me.”

Other artists include Elaine de Kooning, Dorothy Dehner, Audrey Flack, Jane Hammond, Mary Nimmo Moran, Georgia O’Keeffe, Betty Parsons, Miriam Schapiro and Esphyr Slobodkina.   

The Heckscher Museum is also displaying two simultaneous exhibits. The first, entitled Men at Work, focuses on depictions of men doing all kinds of jobs, from construction to academia and religious life. William Merritt Chase, Thomas Eakins, George Grosz, John Rogers, Emma Stebbins and John Sloan are among the featured artists.

The other, called Street Life, depicts life in New York City — its work-a-day life, shopping avenues and iconic transportation system in photographs. Featured artists include Berenice Abbott, N. Jay Jaffee, Martin Lewis, John Sloan, Garry Winogrand, among others.

You Go Girl! will be on display through April 3, while Men at Work and Street Life will be displayed through March 27.

The Heckscher Museum of Art is located at 2 Prime Ave., Huntington. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.