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Miller Place

Gerard Tegins mugshot from SCPD

Police allege a young man drove drunk, blew through a stop sign and crashed into a house early on Saturday morning, causing extensive damage.

The suspect, 20-year-old Gerard Tegins, was driving a 2002 Hyundai SUV south on Harrison Avenue in Miller Place when, at about 2:30 a.m., he passed a stop sign without stopping at the corner of Parkside Avenue, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. Tegins then lost control of the SUV, went across several lawns and crashed into the living room of a house on Parkside.

Police said no one in the home was injured, though the residence suffered extensive damage.

The driver was treated for minor injuries at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, police said. He was the only one in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Tegins, a Port Jefferson Station resident, was charged with driving while intoxicated, speeding, reckless driving, running a stop sign and failing to stay in a lane.

The defendant’s attorney, Commack-based Michael Alber, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Max Schneider mugshot from SCPD

Suffolk County police caught up to the Miller Place man who allegedly robbed a Rocky Point bank on April 14, but the man didn’t go down without a fight.

Max Schneider, 26, was arrested on April 16 in Huntington at approximately 5:45 p.m., after the Suffolk County Police Department’s Pattern Crime Unit and Larceny Task Force detectives spotted him pulling into the parking lot of the Walt Whitman Mall, according to police.

Schneider allegedly attempted to escape detectives, but in the process collided his 2012 Honda Civic with two police vehicles.

Officials allege he is the man who entered the Capital One bank on Route 25A in Rocky Point shortly after 9 a.m. on April 14 and gave a teller a note demanding money. Police said he then fled on foot with an unknown amount of money.

Police arrested and charged Schneider with third-degree robbery; criminal mischief; reckless endangerment; and violation of a parole warrant.

Attorney information for the defendant was not immediately available.

According to online New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision records, Schneider was convicted of third-degree robbery in 2013.

Schneider will be arraigned in Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip on April 17.

Prickly
A Hastings Drive woman called police to report an incident of criminal mischief at her Stony Brook home — an unknown person cut branches from the front of her shrub sometime between April 11 at 8 p.m. and April 12 at 10 a.m.

Boozy banter
A man reported to police an incident of harassment on April 12. He told police that at about 8:20 p.m. in the wooded area on the west side of Waldbaums on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket, he and another individual who may have been intoxicated made a verbal threat to him.

A leg up
A 36-year-old man from West Hempstead was arrested on Nicolls Road in Stony Brook on April 8 and charged with third-degree criminal mischief of property greater than $250 in value. Police said he kicked a female victim’s passenger door of a 2008 Honda Civic, causing damage, on Church Street in Lake Ronkonkoma on April 4. He was arrested days later in Stony Brook at 3:30 p.m.

Drugged driving
Police said a 21-year-old woman from Setauket was arrested on Old Town Road in Setauket-East Setauket on April 12 and charged with first-degree operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs and fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana. Police said she was driving a 2006 Nissan southbound on Old Town Road when she was pulled over at about 6:40 p.m.

Reckless
A 22-year-old man from Centereach was arrested in Setauket-East Setauket on April 11 at about 5 a.m. and charged with first-degree reckless endangerment and first-degree burglary. Police said the man fired a shotgun on Ringneck Lane in Setauket. Police also tacked on a burglary charge at the precinct — they said on March 29, at about 3 a.m., the man went into a home on Old Town Road and struck a man in the head.

Shoplifter caught
Police said a 32-year-old man from Southampton was arrested in Setauket-East Setauket on April 10 and charged with petit larceny. Police said he was arrested at the corner of Chester and Belle Meade Road for stealing assorted items from Walmart in South Setauket at about 10:20 p.m.

Busted with heroin
Police said a 28-year-old old man was arrested in Stony Brook on April 7 and charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, with the intent to sell. Police said that at about 12:45 p.m. on Route 347 on April 7 he was in possession of heroin in a 2014 Chevy Camaro.

Sweater snatcher
Someone stuffed a sweater into a purse and walked out of Target in South Setauket on Pond Path on April 7 at 2:05 p.m. without paying for it.

Taxi!
A cab was waiting outside of a Port Jefferson Main Street bar on April 12 when shortly after 3 a.m. a man walked up to the vehicle and kicked the side view mirror.

Punched
An argument on Main Street in Port Jefferson got physical on April 11 when one of the people punched the other in the face.

What a tool
Two unknown people entered a storage facility property on Jamaica Avenue in Port Jefferson on April 10, just before midnight, and removed a toolbox from a pickup truck.

Undeserved tip
A male entered a counter service restaurant on Main Street in Port Jefferson on April 9 and removed the tip jar. Two others accompanied the man, who then took the money and disposed of the jar.

Need a lift
Police reported an unknown person, or persons, shattered a 2014 Jeep’s liftgate on April 7 on Main Street in Port Jefferson.

Do not disturb
A resident of Henearly Drive in Miller Place reported receiving a dozen harassing phone calls from an unknown caller from April 7 to April 8.

Pocketed
A 2005 Honda Odyssey owner reported that a pocketbook containing credit cards and cash was stolen from the vehicle while it was parked on Miller Place Road in Miller Place on April 6.

Tracked
A resident of Halesite Drive in Sound Beach reported that an unknown person put a tracking device on his Jeep Cherokee. The incident was reported on April 9.

Through the basement window
Between 10:30 a.m. and 11: 30 p.m. on April 11, an unknown person broke a home’s basement window on Begonia Road in Rocky Point. Police said no items were taken from the home, and it doesn’t appear anyone entered the residence.

Call the coppers
A home on Hallock Landing Road in Rocky Point was ransacked at some point between April 8 and April 12. According to police, copper piping and various electronics were stolen from the residence.

Parking wars
Police responded to a confrontation at the Walmart parking lot in Centereach on April 11. Police said a woman reported that after opening her door and accidently hitting another person’s car, the individual became angry and started yelling. They then keyed the side of her vehicle.

Re-routed to jail
A 24-year-old Centereach woman was arrested in Centereach on April 7 for petit larceny after she stole routers, cables and merchandise from a Centereach store on March 24.

Slashed
A complainant on Elmwood Avenue in Selden reported his 2005 Ford’s tires were slashed on April 10.

Burglar caught
Police arrested a 22-year-old Centereach man on April 11 in connection with a March 29 burglary in which he and another person entered an East Setauket dwelling, threatened its inhabitant with a handgun and then struck the victim on the head. The man was charged with first-degree burglary with a dangerous instrument.

Put a ring on it
A 20-year-old Ronkonkoma man was arrested in Selden on April 10 for fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Police said the man sold a stolen ring at a pawnshop.

Getting physical
A 24-year-old woman from Lake Ronkonkoma was arrested in Smithtown on April 12 and charged with third-degree assault, with intent to cause physical injury. Police said that on April 11 at 1:35 a.m. on Church Street in Lake Ronkonkoma she punched a female victim in the head, and the victim required medical attention. The woman was arrested at the precinct in Smithtown.

Joyride
Three individuals were arrested after midnight in Smithtown on April 11 after police conducted a traffic stop on Jericho Turnpike and found drugs on passengers seated in a 2003 Chrysler. A 21-year-old man from Ridge and a 22-year-old man from Centereach were both arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance — heroin. A 21-year-old from Bellport was also arrested and charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Shoplifter busted
Police said a 23-year-old man from Commack was arrested in Smithtown on April 11 and charged with petit larceny. The man took assorted items from a Walmart on Veterans Highway in Smithtown at about 11 a.m. without paying for them. He was arrested at that location.

Pills, CD player, taken
Someone reported to police that a CD player and prescription drugs were stolen from a location on Bishops Road in Smithtown sometime between 8 p.m. on April 1 and 3 a.m. on April 11. There are no arrests.

Screen damaged
Someone cut the screen window of a residence on Lisa Court in Nesconset at 3 p.m. on April 3, though nothing was stolen from the location. There are no arrests.

Spending spree
A Clover Lane resident of Kings Park reported to police that his or her identity was stolen last week. An unknown person attempted to make purchases using a Citibank credit card. The attempted purchases didn’t go through, police said. The person tried to buy groceries from a supermarket in Astoria, items from an Armani Exchange in Staten Island and items from a Macy’s in Staten Island.

Angry customer
Police said they received a report of a disorderly customer at a West Jericho Turnpike location in Smithtown on April 8 at about 2:30 p.m. Police said the customer picked something up from off the counter and threw it against the wall, damaging the item to the tune of $50.

Time-less
A complainant told police that her watch went missing from her home on Hunter Place in Smithtown, sometime between 2 and 4 p.m. on April 3.

Windshield damaged
Someone reported to police that the windshield of a 2015 Kia Soul parked in the driveway of a Belinda Court home in Nesconset was cracked sometime between 7 p.m. on April 10 and 8 a.m. on April 11.

Items jacked
Someone cleaned out a 2014 Volkswagen Passat parked on Landing Road in Kings Park. A complainant reported that several items were stolen from within the car: tools, clothing, money, a driver’s license, paperwork and other items. The incident occurred at 9:48 p.m. on April 9, according to video surveillance.

Pizza with a side of punch
A 37-year-old man from Greenlawn was arrested in Huntington on April 12 and charged with disorderly conduct, fighting and violent behavior. Police said he punched a man in the nose in front of Little Vincent’s Pizzeria on New York Avenue in Huntington at about 2:15 a.m.

Hulk smash!
A 28-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington on April 10 and charged with criminal mischief, with intent to damage property. Police said that at 3:15 p.m. on March 30 he kicked the bumper and ripped off the passenger side mirror of a 2010 Honda Accord on Park Avenue. He also threatened a male victim with a hammer.

Female struck
Police said a 27-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington on April 12 and charged with third-degree assault, with intention to cause physical injury. The man struck a female victim in the face at about 2 a.m. in East Northport at 2nd Avenue and 4th Street. He was later arrested on Route 25 and Round Swamp Road in Huntington.

Cop kicked, spat on
A 16-year-old female from Huntington Station was arrested in Huntington on April 11 and charged with second-degree harassment. Police said she kicked a uniformed officer in his legs at 11:50 p.m. on Tuthill Street. She also later spit on the police officer at the precinct.

Shoplifter caught
An 18-year-old East Northport woman was arrested in Huntington on April 7 and charged with petit larceny. Police said she stole assorted items from Walgreens on Larkfield Road in Commack on April 4 at 9:40 a.m.

Wallet, phone taken
Someone removed a female’s wallet and phone from Finley’s of Green Street in Huntington at 1 a.m. on April 12. Police said the complainant reported that a wallet containing credit card, her iPhone, cash, driver’s license were stolen.

Woman struck
A female bartender at The Dublin Jack in East Northport on Larkfield Road reported a male suspect struck her across the face at 3:20 a.m. on April 11. There were no injuries.

Jewelry lifted
An unknown person stole assorted jewelry from a home on New York Avenue in Huntington sometime between April 6 at 9 p.m. and April 10 at 7 p.m. There are no arrests.

Scammed
A White Hill Road resident in Lloyd Harbor reported to police on April 7 that he or she was the subject of a scam. Someone called the home claiming they were from the IRS.

Library members in Port Jefferson and Comsewogue approved the two districts’ proposed budgets on Tuesday. Stock photo

Comsewogue and Port Jefferson library district members approved both institutions’ 2015-16 budgets on Tuesday. The Port Jefferson Free Library budget passed with 106 votes in favor and nine against. Comsewogue Public Library’s budget passed with 104 votes in favor and 19 against.

The Port Jefferson budget, which totals $4.33 million, will increase annual taxes by about $10.80 for the average village resident. The budget includes a $107,000 transfer to the library’s capital fund for facility improvements, as the library nears the finish line on forming a strategic plan for how the institution will serve members in the future. That plan includes improving the facilities and considers possible uses for an adjacent residential property on Thompson Street that the library recently purchased.

In Comsewogue, annual taxes will increase by about $11 for the average resident under the approved $5.58 million budget.

The Comsewogue district residents also elected a new trustee, Corinne DeStefano, with 116 votes. The candidate, who ran unopposed for a five-year term, is the wife of Comsewogue school board Trustee Robert DeStefano. A lifelong resident of the district, she works in quality assurance for software corporation CA Technologies.

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Christopher Campbell mugshot from SCPD

Nearly six months after a Miller Place woman was killed in a hit-and-run crash on North Country Road, police have made an arrest.

Christopher Campbell, 35, of Sound Beach, was arrested on Tuesday after a grand jury indicted him for leaving the scene of a fatal accident, following an investigation by the Suffolk County Police Department’s Vehicular Crime Unit, county District Attorney Tom Spota said.

Campbell allegedly drove the vehicle that struck 40-year-old Tracy Mangino, who was walking on North Country Road, east of Block Island Drive, on Oct. 18. Mangino died of her injuries at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson.

Campbell pleaded not guilty to the charge in Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip, Spota said. Judge Fernando Camacho set Campbell’s bail at $50,000 cash, $100,000 bond.

The October crash isn’t the first time Campbell has been accused of leaving the scene. In June 2012, he was arrested and charged with drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident after he sideswiped a parked car on East Main Street in Port Jefferson. According to Spota’s office, Campbell allegedly tried to flee the scene on foot, but was apprehended by a village constable and Suffolk police officer. The charges are still pending.

Robert Macedonio, Campbell’s Central Islip-based attorney, was not immediately available for comment regarding either case.

At the time of the October crash, police described the vehicle that hit Mangino as a box-type truck, traveling eastbound on North Country Road. Detective Sgt. John Sumwalt, of the Vehicular Crime Unit, said in an October interview that the vehicle was light-colored and that a passing motorist notified police of the incident. He added that detectives were reviewing surveillance footage from the area. And on Tuesday, Spota revealed the strategy was successful.

“Vehicular Crime Unit detectives canvassed the neighborhood and were successful in gathering evidence, including video footage of the driver’s truck leaving the scene,” he said.

Punched and pushed
A complainant reported being harassed by a male and a female while waiting outside a Patchogue Road convenience store in Port Jefferson Station at around 5:30 p.m. on April 4. According to police, the victim, who refused medical attention, was punched and pushed by the suspects. No arrests have been made.

Sideswiped
A man refused to press charges after he was pushed and hit on the side of the face while walking on Patchogue Road in Port Jefferson Station on March 31 at 6:33 a.m. The man didn’t require medical attention.

Check it out
A 60-year-old Port Jefferson Station man was arrested on April 3 for grand larceny and second-degree forgery after he entered the Sola Salon Studios in Port Jefferson Station and stole a wallet that contained cash, credit cards and other items. Police said the man then forged a signature on one of the stolen checks.

Got your nose
Two males got into a bit of a tiff on April 5 at around 1:30 a.m. at Junior’s Spycoast in Port Jefferson. According to police, a man was punched in the nose and neck, causing injury. No medical attention was provided, and charges haven’t been filed.

Garden of mystery
An unknown individual took two batteries from a 2007 Chevy and a 1995 GMC from the Gera Gardens property in Mount Sinai. The incident occurred between 2 p.m. on March 31 and 7:30 a.m. on April 4. One of the vehicles had a broken windshield as well.

Gone with the wind
A woman reported leaving her cell phone behind at the Miller Place Stop&Shop checkout line on April 3. When she returned, the phone was gone.

Gas station rage
A complainant reported an individual was trying to start a fight at the BP gas station in Miller Place on Route 25A. During the April 2 criminal mischief incident, the suspect damaged the complainant’s 2009 Toyota Camry by kicking the rear passenger door, causing a minor dent. Shortly before the incident, police had responded to a suspect approaching another customer at the same gas station and engaging in a verbal dispute and throwing a bottle at the complainant’s car. It is unclear if the two reports are related.

Criminal homemaker
At approximately 4 p.m. on April 4, an unknown individual stole assorted groceries and household items from the Rocky Point Waldbaum’s on Route 25A.

Talk to the hand
Police responded to an assault at the Shoreham-Wading River High School property on March 30 at around 12:30 p.m. According to police, a complainant was talking to the suspect, who didn’t like what he said and then punched the man. The complainant was treated at a local hospital.

Bad impression
A 27-year-old Wading River man was arrested in Shoreham on April 3 after he lied about his name during a traffic stop by Roswell Avenue.

Planking
A homeowner on Valiant Drive in Centereach discovered four planks missing from a fence. Police said the incident occurred between 9 p.m. on April 4 and 10:30 a.m. on April 5.

Poor home improvements
An unknown person damaged a property on Lake Grove Street in Centereach at approximately 10:45 p.m. on April 2. Police said a window and sheetrock were damaged.

Bonnie and Clyde
A male and female took merchandise from a Middle Country Road CVS in Centereach on March 31 at around 9:30 a.m. and then fled the scene.

False advertisement
An individual responding to a Craigslist advertisement of a quad for sale, posted by a resident of Avondale Drive in Centereach, drove off with the vehicle on March 30. According to police, the suspect is a white male, thin and approximately 6 feet tall. Police are still investigating.

High-way
Police arrested a 22-year-old Middle Island man in Centereach on April 1 for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs. The man was heading eastbound on Route 25 in a 2003 Chrysler when police pulled him over by Wood Road for driving at an excessive speed, and observed he was under the influence.

Soda and sun
A 22-year-old Sound Beach woman and a 30-year-old Miller Place man were arrested in Selden on April 2 for stealing a pair of sunglasses and soda from a Walgreens on Middle Country Road.

Pestering phone calls
Someone reported an incident of aggravated harassment at North Suffolk Cardiology on Research Way in East Setauket on April 3 at 9:23 a.m. Police said the complainant reported a caller making harassing statements on a personal cellphone.

Makeup, wallet stolen
Someone stole a wallet and makeup from Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway in East Setauket on April 3 at about 3:34 p.m.

Harassment
A man told police he was receiving harassing phone calls on Millie Lane in East Setauket on April 3 around 4:20 p.m.

Cards swiped
Someone entered an unlocked 2005 Chevrolet parked at a home on Rack Lane, East Setauket and stole a Visa card and a Home Depot card. The incident was reported on April 2 at 11 p.m.

Hug it out
Someone claimed they were punched and shoved, but police said the individuals involved know each another and no arrest was made. The incident occurred on Christian Avenue, Setauket at 3 a.m. on March 30.

Money grab
An unknown person entered an unlocked 2011 Chevy Tahoe parked on Cabin Lane in East Setauket on March 30 at 8:16 a.m. and took money.

Hole in one
Someone entered Sports Authority on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook and took golf clubs without paying for them. The incident occurred on March 31 at about 1:40 p.m.

It wasn’t me
A 23-year-old man from Central Islip was arrested in Smithtown at the 4th Precinct on April 2 and charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and false information. Police said that the man told officers the driver of a motor vehicle fled the scene of an accident after crashing a 2004 Cadillac into a pole on March 28 at about 4:05 a.m. at the corner of Smithtown Boulevard and Old Nichol’s Road, when in fact he was the driver.

April foolery
A 37-year-old woman was arrested at the 4th Precinct in Smithtown on April 1 and charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration and second-degree harassment. Police said the incident occurred at the precinct. The woman refused to comply when ordered out of a holding cell after being arrested in Shirley and charged with operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs. Then while being assisted out of the holding cell, the woman grabbed and scratched a Suffolk County Police Department employee’s arms.

Sloppy driving
A 19-year-old man from Holbrook was arrested in Nesconset on April 2 and charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs and alcohol. Police said he was driving on Smithtown Boulevard in a 1999 Toyota when he was observed swerving from his travel lane and crossed over into the shoulder. He was arrested at the scene at about 2:30 a.m.

Jewelry thief nabbed
Police said a 24-year-old woman from Islip was arrested on April 1 and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny of property valued at more than $1,000. Police said the woman stole jewelry from a Lawrence Drive location in Nesconset sometime between Oct. 8 and Nov. 17. She was arrested on Lawrence Drive at about 3 p.m.

Faker caught
A 17-year-old male from Brentwood was arrested in Smithtown and charged with false personation. Police said that on March 27 in Commack on Jericho Turnpike at 2 p.m. he made a police report using someone else’s name, using a fake picture identification and continued to identify himself as someone else. He was also charged with falsely writing a statement.

Bad reality check
A 51-year-old man from St. James was arrested at his home on Hill Road in St. James on April 5 and charged with second-degree possession of a forged instrument. Police said he possessed a forged instrument — a Chase bank check — that he made payable to himself.

Injeanious
A 27-year-old man from Great River was arrested in Smithtown at the 4th Precinct and charged with petit larceny on April 3 at about 9:30 a.m. Police said he took jeans from Kohl’s on March 18 at about 5:32 p.m.

Street fight
A man told police he was punched several times by another person on Main Street in Huntington at about 2 a.m. on April 4. The two are not looking to file charges, police said.

Seating squabble
Two people got into a dispute about a seating area at Starbucks on Wall Street in Huntington at 9 p.m. on April 4, and one person punched the other. The two customers refused medical attention, cops said.

KO
Someone punched another person in the face at a store on East Main Street on April 1 in Huntington at about 1:53 a.m. The person refused medical treatment and refused to press charges.

On second thought
An unknown person kicked in the door of a Soundview Road home on April 1 at about 6:30 p.m. in Huntington, but fled when someone inside the house yelled. The person didn’t get inside.

Claims district violated his First Amendment rights

Miller Place High School senior Kyle Vetrano, second from left, was punished for ad-libbing a line during the school’s variety show last month. Photo by Barbara Donlon

A Miller Place High School student is suing the district for allegedly violating his First Amendment rights after he was punished for making an ad-libbed remark about the superintendent’s salary during a variety show.

At the Thursday, March 26 variety show, Kyle Vetrano, senior class president, appeared in a skit poking fun at the high school’s new bathroom policy, which allows one student at a time to use the bathroom in an effort to combat drug use and sales. According to the senior, he improvised the line that later got him into trouble.

“Is this what our superintendent gets paid all that money for? To write bathroom policy,” Vetrano said in the skit.

Following the remark, Vetrano said school administrators told him that he was not allowed to participate in the Friday night performance and was banned from school grounds during the show, as the line was not included in the pre-approved script.

“Kyle exercised his political speech rights, which are not to be violated by any government agency what so ever, including his own school,” Vetrano’s attorney John Ray, of Miller Place, said at a press conference held outside the high school on Thursday.

Miller Place High School senior Kyle Vetrano’s supporters rally on his behalf. Photo by Barbara Donlon
Miller Place High School senior Kyle Vetrano’s supporters rally on his behalf. Photo by Barbara Donlon

Vetrano’s mom, Christine, said the district is bullying her son, which is why they decided to take a stand and file the lawsuit.

The high school senior said he told a harmless joke with no malicious intent and was singled out by the district because it was the superintendent he made the remark about. He claims other students also veered off script, but were not reprimanded or punished.

Vetrano said he apologized to Superintendent Marianne Higuera numerous times, but was allegedly told that if he continued to bring up the situation, his senior prom, awards night and graduation privileges could be revoked.

“I think as an American in this country we have a right to freedom of speech and I’m just embarrassed that the district I have been a part of my entire life completely violated my first amendment rights,” Vetrano said.

When reached for comment, the district’s public relations firm, Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc. referred to a letter from Higuera posted on the district’s website.

According to the March 31 letter, students were made aware of the consequences for breaking the rules, which have been consistent year-after-year. Higuera said she was not present at the performance, but was advised of the ad-libbed line.

“This current ad-libbing situation is simply an issue of rules and consequences and not about me as the superintendent,” Higuera stated in the letter.

According to Higuera’s letter, the district will continue to discuss the “one-person at a time” bathroom policy.

About 50 people rallied at the press conference. They marched and held signs in support of the senior.

“What do we want? Free speech!” the crowd shouted as they marched up to the district office.

The family is suing for monetary damages, but has yet to decide on an amount, according to Ray.

“I was the only one who ad-libbed about the superintendent, but my comments were not with any mal-intent,” Vetrano said. “They didn’t call her out by name and they were part of a skit that was completely satirical and comedic in nature.”

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Men’s coach continues to push program to new heights

Will Brown coaches Hooley on the sideline during a game. Photo from the University at Albany

By Clayton Collier

The University at Albany Great Danes have only been a Division I men’s basketball program since 1999, but their accomplishments in the past decade are not short-lived.

Miller Place native Will Brown Jr., who recently completed his 14th season at the helm of the men’s hoops team, has taken the program from a team initially accustomed to the lower portion of the America East standings, to one with three-straight NCAA Tournament berths and five within the last decade — the most recent of which came on the strength of a miracle, last-second 3-pointer by junior guard Peter Hooley to punch the Great Danes’ ticket to the Big Dance.

Becoming a regular in March Madness is no small task for a mid-major program like Albany, but then again, Brown is not one to balk in the face of a challenge.

Before Brown was a coach, the 43-year-old was a standout basketball player at Miller Place High School. Coached by his father, Bill Sr., Brown was never mistaken for getting preferential treatment. In fact, it was made clear that Brown was to be held to a higher standard than his teammates.

“It’s hard when you’re in tenth grade and your dad kicks you out of practice and you have to call your mom to pick you up,” Brown said.

The coach said it wasn’t until he began leading his own team that he fully understood that his father was pushing him in order to reach his max potential.

“Bill Brown was an amazing coach,” Miller Place athletic director Lisa Lally, who coached girls’ basketball while Bill Brown was the boys’ head coach, and taught Will Brown when he attended the school, said. “He knew what his son was capable of, what potential he had, and I think he pushed Will. I think there were probably some very interesting times around that dinner table after practice.”

To prevent such interesting times, Brown’s mother Diane implemented a house policy: leave the arguments from practice in the gym.

“We weren’t allowed to talk hoops, that was mom’s rule,” Brown said. “But very rarely did we pay attention to that rule.”

Will Brown discusses plays with his Great Danes during a timeout. Photos from the University at Albany
Will Brown discusses plays with his Great Danes during a timeout. Photos from the University at Albany

As Brown progressed in high school, he began to see recruiting interest from major college programs like the University of Notre Dame and Seton Hall University. At the end of his sophomore year however, Brown found himself laboring more and more to continue to complete practices that once came easier to him. He began losing weight dramatically — something was wrong.

Brown was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the beginning of his junior year of high school, at one point causing him to miss six or seven weeks of school. The fluctuation in weight wreaked havoc on Brown’s energy level and subsequently, his ability to practice.

Per doctor’s orders, Brown sat out of soccer season for his junior and senior years and committed himself to getting his weight up in order to be able to participate in basketball.

Brown Sr. said he found himself in a difficult situation, as he was hesitant to push his son, given his condition.

“It’s almost like you’re walking on eggshells; it was hard as a parent,” Brown Sr. said. “You want to push him, but you don’t want to push him. I had to use him as a guide. I listened to what he told me.”

Brown told his father he wanted to get to work.

“When he said ‘dad can we go up to the gym?’ that’s when we went. I would never say ‘Hey Will, let’s go and work out;’ I let him come to me,” Brown Sr. said. “I would say ‘let’s call it quits’ and he would say ‘no, let’s do a little more.’”

Brown committed to the University of Pennsylvania to play basketball, but transferred to Dowling College to be closer to home after another bout with Crohn’s disease. Brown continued to work diligently to maintain his weight and finished his collegiate career with more than 1,000 points and 500 assists.

Upon graduation, Brown’s parents assumed he would get a regular, nine-to-five job. Instead, Brown followed in his father’s footsteps and entered the world of coaching, and shot rapidly up the ranks. Beginning as an assistant coach at the College of Saint Rose, Brown moved on to his first head coaching job at Sullivan County Community College, where he compiled a 90-10 record in three seasons.

Soon thereafter, Brown was hired as an assistant on Scott Beeten’s coaching staff at Albany. Beeten would be reassigned from the head coaching position just before conference play in December of 2001. The University named Brown, at just 29 years old, interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

“I thought I had it all figured out, I never understood why coaches weren’t successful,” he said. “I quickly learned when you’re an assistant, it’s easy to make suggestions. When you move one seat over, you have to make the decisions.”

Now, 14 seasons later, Brown has made Albany a nationally recognized name. Five NCAA tournament berths and 215 wins later, Brown has taken his “baby” to never before seen heights.

This past season was one to remember, in particular, for Brown’s Great Danes. Conference season began with the tragic news that Peter Hooley’s mother, Sue, had taken a turn for the worse in her battle with cancer.
Hooley flew home to his native Australia to be with his mother in her final moments, missing nearly a month of the basketball season. Upon his return following her passing, coach Brown found himself experiencing a similar dilemma to his father many years ago, although his and Hooley’s situations were vastly different, in terms of reintroducing a star player back into basketball following hardship.

“The tough part for me was that I like to ride my captains and my better players pretty hard. I get after them; I challenge them. Peter is no different,” Brown said. “But I did find myself kind of trying to lay off Peter a little bit, give him some space and some time.”

Hooley said Brown allowing him to work at his own pace was helpful in allowing him to get himself refocused on basketball.

“He’s been a father figure over here in every way,” he said. “I think coming in he knew what I was dealing with back home and he checked in on me every single day. He almost knows what it is like to be in that situation. It certainly helps me to keep going.”

Albany went 8-0 in Hooley’s absence. In the conference tournament, with Hooley back on the court, the Great Danes found themselves in a familiar location — the America East championship game against Stony Brook University.

Down by two with seconds to go and Stony Brook out of timeouts, the Great Danes had the ball. Hooley drained a 3-point basket to win the game for Albany, 51-50, off an offensive rebound, and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Hooley, who pointed to the sky after the buzzer sounded, said he had his mother to thank for the ball reaching the net in the final moments.

“That ball shouldn’t have been kicked to me,” he said. “There’s no way that that should’ve fell to me; there’s no way they should have had no time-outs; there’s no way that ball should have made it to me to get a shot off. Everything was set up perfectly and what mum would’ve wanted.”

With their season completed following a 69-60  loss to the University of Oklahoma in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Brown and the Great Danes set their sights on next year. With so much success, one could see Brown as a larger than life figure, but his father still fondly remembers those early days in the gym.

“Just to be there when these arenas are owned with 15-20,000 people, and you have all the glitz and the glamour, and you have all the national news there,” Brown Sr. said of seeing his son coach in the Big Dance. “As a father you sit back, and to this day, I look down, I see Will, and I still see a kid from Miller Place.”

Dodge ATM
On March 27, a resident of Market Street in Port Jefferson Station reported that a wallet had been removed from a 1997 Dodge Ram.

Dial S for stolen
Two unknown males stole a cell phone from a victim on Main Street in Port Jefferson Station. According to police, the incident occurred at around 4:30 a.m. on March 27.

Unlocked
A resident of Lincoln Avenue in Port Jefferson Station reported cash had been stolen from a wallet that was left in an unlocked 1997 Honda on March 25.

Jeepers!
A 2011 Jeep was stolen from a residence on Crescent Drive in Port Jefferson Station. Police were notified of the grand larceny on March 25.

Tased and confused
A 48-year-old Port Jefferson man was arrested for resisting arrest and criminal possession of stolen property on March 29. Police said the man was found at 7-Eleven on Old Town Road in possession of a stolen 1994 Jeep Wrangler, and lunged at an officer when confronted. The officer deployed their TASER.

Faking it
A resident of Thames Street in Port Jefferson Station fell victim to identity theft, and notified police on March 23 that an unknown person had used personal info and made financial transactions.

Keg stand
An unknown person or persons removed an empty beer keg from Port Jefferson-based Schafer’s storage yard on March 25.

Needed directions
An unknown person took a GPS, cash and paperwork from an unlocked 2008 Honda on Sheep Pasture Road in Port Jefferson on March 24.

Double the drugs
A 25-year-old Port Jefferson Station man was arrested in Port Jefferson on drug charges on March 26 after police found him seated in a 2004 Chevy with an electronic smoking device that contained marijuana. In addition, police discovered cocaine in his possession.

Off-roading
A 48-year-old Mount Sinai woman was arrested on multiple charges on March 25, after police said she drove a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer in reverse and into a neighboring home on Osborne Avenue in Mount Sinai. The woman was charged with reckless driving, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.

Feeling deflated
A woman reported her 2005 Honda Accord’s two rear tires had been punctured while parked outside the Applebee’s on Route 25A in Miller Place. The incident occurred on March 23.

We’ve been hit!
A resident of Rockledge Court in Rocky Point reported their home had been struck with several paintballs and a window screen had been broken on March 29 between 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

Master of disguise
A 32-year-old Rocky Point man was arrested on a false impersonation charge on March 27. Police said the man, who did not have his license on him, was stopped at Prince Road and Harding Street for a traffic violation and gave police a false name.

Smashed
A resident of Harrison Avenue in Centereach reported the window of a 2000 Chrysler had been smashed at some point between March 25 and March 26.

DWI on road to Independence
Police arrested a 53-year-old Centereach man in Selden for aggravated driving while intoxicated after he was involved in a March 29 car crash by Independence Plaza.

Rockin’ Robin
Four Selden residents were arrested on March 27 for criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. According to police, three men, ages 31, 34, and 43, and a woman, age 33, were arrested at a residence on Robin Road. The defendants had heroin in their possession.

Civic responsibility
A 1997 Honda Civic parked at a residence on Hawkins Road in Centereach was discovered stolen between March 28 and March 29.

Thief won’t listen
Numerous headphones were stolen from the Centereach CVS on Middle Country Road on March 28 between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Out of the closet
Two unknown males broke into an apartment on Stanley Drive in Centereach and took items from a bedroom closet on March 23. According to police, the complainant said the men had a handgun and fled through the front door in an unknown direction.

Bad reality check
A 37-year-old man from Brentwood was arrested at the 4th Precinct in Smithtown on March 28 and charged with issuing a bad check while knowing he had insufficient funds. Police said he wrote a bad check to Side Lumber & Supply Co. The man was arrested at about 10 a.m.

Disenchanting
A 25-year-old man from Islip was arrested in Smithtown on March 26 and charged with petit larceny. Police said the man stole Magic the Gathering cards from a location on Route 454 in Islandia on Jan. 28.

Driving outside the lines
A 23-year-old woman from Centereach was arrested in Commack on March 28 and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said that at about 2:30 a.m. she was driving a 1999 Dodge on Route 14 in Commack when police pulled her over for failing to maintain her lane.

Inn trouble
A 19-year-old man from Brentwood was arrested in Commack on March 28 at 12:30 a.m. and charged with two counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree. Police said he stole more than $1,000 in cash from someone’s wallet at the Commack Motor Inn and stole a credit card from a different person at the inn. He was also charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

Cut short
Police said a 38-year-old man from Bay Shore was arrested in Commack on March 28 and charged with third-degree burglary. Police said the man stole razors from Costco on Garet Place after being prohibited from entering the store.

Identity stolen, phones purchased
An unknown person used the identity of a Larson Avenue man from Smithtown to purchase cell phones and equipment from Verizon Wireless worth more than $2,400. The crime was reported to happen sometime on March 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Not so safe
A safe was looted on March 28 at Developmental Disabilities Institute on Hollywood Drive in Smithtown.  The cash belonged to the residents of the location.

Window damaged
An unknown person threw a bottle of wine through the rear window of 3 Guy’s Hobbies on Lawrence Avenue in Smithtown. The incident was reported to police on March 28 at 3:05 p.m.

Egged
A Roy Drive home in Nesconset was egged, according to police. The incident was reported on March 29 at 10 p.m.

Mean streets
An incident of road rage took place in St. James on March 25. Police said a male complainant reported that he was driving west on Route 347. As traffic was merging, someone cut him off, he said, and a shouting match between both drivers ensued. The other driver threatened to kill the complainant and then drove away.

Gimme my pizza
Police said two men were arrested in connection to an incident that occurred at Little Vincent’s pizzeria on New York Avenue on March 29. At about 1:29 a.m., a 20-year-old from Commack was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, with intent to damage property, after he punched the front door of the pizzeria after being asked to leave. A 20-year-old from Smithtown was also arrested in connection to the incident and charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration, as he tried to obstruct officers making an arrest.

Check it
A 34-year-old woman from Melville was arrested in Huntington on March 28 at the 2nd Precinct and charged with third-degree grand larceny. Police said that between Nov. 1 at noon and Dec. 31 at noon, the woman attempted to steal money by altering checks.

What a pill
Police said a 31-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Police said that on the corner of New York Avenue and Gerard Street, on March 27 at 8:26 a.m. he was driving a 2004 Jeep with a suspended or revoked license. The man also possessed prescription pills without a prescription.

Busted with drugs
A 22-year-old woman from East Northport was arrested in Huntington Station and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and loitering. Police said she was loitering at about 11:55 a.m. on March 26 at a location on West Jericho Turnpike, where she was later arrested. She was also found in possession of heroin.

Fake checks
An unknown person took two checks from a Huntington female complainant, forged signatures without permission and attempted to cash them sometime between March 16 at 9 a.m. and March 18 just before midnight. The incident was reported on March 28.

7-Eleven brawl
A male complainant reported that he and another man got into a verbal dispute at 7-Eleven on New York Avenue in Huntington. Both men fell to the ground and got into a fight, and both were transported to Huntington Hospital. The incident was reported on March 26 at 7:40 a.m.

Items stolen
An unknown person entered a 2005 Toyota Tundra on Joseph Court in East Northport and stole sunglasses, a GPS and cash sometime between March 21 at 8 a.m. and March 29 at 8 a.m.

Missing jewelry
Police said assorted jewelry was stolen from a home on Dalton Lane in East Northport sometime between 9 a.m. on March 24  and noon on March 25.

Purse taken
Someone removed a purse containing cash, a driver’s license and a credit card from a 2009 Honda Pilot parked on Croley Street in Greenlawn. The incident was reported on March 28 at 8:23 p.m.

Retirement incentive offered to teachers

Superintendent Marianne Higuera discusses the proposed budget at a school board meeting. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Eight veteran teachers from the Miller Place school district will take advantage of a recently approved retirement incentive, according to district Superintendent Marianne Higuera.

The teachers are set to retire at the end of this school year, and will be given a one-time lump sum of $20,000, according to the agreement reached between the district and the Miller Place Teachers Association at the end of February.

“We wish them the best as they begin to not set their alarm clock,” Higuera said in an interview following a March 25 school board meeting.

In order to receive the incentive, the teachers must be at least 55 years old, a full-time salaried district employee and have served a minimum of 10 years in the district and the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System. They’ll be eligible to receive any applicable contractual retirement benefit, as well.

According to Higuera, the school district plans on replacing each position with a new hire as long as the budget, which the school board adopted on March 25, is approved. While she wouldn’t name the teachers retiring, Higuera said they work in the art, music, speech and elementary fields. It is unclear what sort of savings, if any, the district will enjoy from the retirements.

The adopted 2015-16 budget, which will be up for a vote on May 19, stays within the district’s tax levy increase cap of 2.85 percent.

If the district’s total assessed property value stays flat, residents will see a tax rate of nearly $260 per $100 of assessed value, an increase of a little more than $7 from the current year.

The proposed $70 million budget increases are just shy of $1 million from the current year, and all programs are maintained. In addition, the district will add new instructional initiatives, student support services and extracurricular activities. New courses, such as sports medicine, a performance class and an English elective will be offered.

The district will also implement an English language learners program, for students whose primary language is not English. According to the district, there are 25 students who speak 11 different languages and the program is catered toward those students.

According to a budget presentation, the district will increase its contribution to its capital fund by $50,000 to bring the total yearly contribution to $150,000. The monies will be used for future capital project work.

The budget also allocates for a one-time payment of $32,673 for a food services software program, as the district still uses pen and paper to track lunch purchases.

Earlier this year, board President Mike Unger said he was pleased the district stayed within the tax cap, while still maintaining programs and staff.

“This is all due to the fiscal excellence of our district and sheds light on the collaborative relationship we share with our valued employees and partners in education,” Unger said. “This is a great budget for the students, parents, staff and taxpayers.”

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