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Suffolk County Police

A post on a Gofundme page set up by Joseph Dwyer has confirmed Melissa Marchese, 18, of Shoreham died due to her injuries June 14.

“With a heavy heart, deep sorrow and tremendous regret, I write to inform you that Melissa Marchese has gone to be with the Lord,” Dwyer wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Melissa and the Marchese family. Thank you all for your generous donations during this time of unthinkable sadness and utter despair. God Bless.”

The Gofundme page raised nearly $20,000 from 294 people in six hours.

*Original story

A Shoreham teen was seriously injured in a crash at the corner of Route 25A and Miller Avenue the evening of June 13.

Suffolk County Police said Evan Flannery, of Shoreham, was driving a 2007 Hyundai Elantra southbound on Miller Avenue and was turning left into Route 25A when his car was struck by a 2006 Honda Accord, being driven westbound on Route 25A by Michael Troiano, of Ridge, at approximately 6:50 p.m.

A passenger in the Hyundai, Melissa Marchese, 18, of Shoreham, was airlifted via Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries.  Flannery, 17, and another passenger in the Hyundai, Caroline Tyburski, 18, of Shoreham, were transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with non-life-threatening injuries. Troiano, 34, was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead with non-life-threatening injuries.

Marchese has been known as a standout softball player in SWR, having been recognized as All-League in the Scholar-Athlete Team in March and is committed to the University of Hartford for softball.

The Shoreham-Wading River Central School District said they have canceled all high school final exams for June 14 and released the following statement:

“Our hearts and thoughts are with the impacted students and their families. The district’s mental health team will be available in the high school library for student support today.”

A Gofundme for Marchese and her family can be found here.

The vehicles were impounded for safety checks. Anyone with information about this crash is asked by police to call the Seventh Squad at 631-852-8752.

Village Mayor Margot Garant, left, and John Jay LaValle, right. File photos

As signs for both candidates are loudly displayed across the village in preparation for the June 18 vote, mayoral challenger John Jay LaValle and incumbent Mayor Margot Garant stepped into the TBR News Media offices June 10 to share real policy about the ongoing issues in Port Jeff.

Staff issues

LaValle has made clear his issues with some village employees. Specifically, he referenced Parking and Mobility Administrator Kevin Wood. He has compared it to Patchogue, where two parking meter officers are each paid just under $65,000 annually to write tickets and manage the meters. 

Wood is paid a similar salary to the two officers, though Garant said he is in charge of repairs and IT work involving the way the meters send information to the code enforcement in regard to timed meters. She added Wood has been involved in other village programs, such as the Jitney and cameras around the village.

“He runs around the village in addition to what he oversees in our parking,” she said.

LaValle called that a false equivalency between Patchogue and Port Jeff’s parking administrations. He called Wood “your [public relations] guy” — there’s not a moment I don’t see him following you around with a camera.”

Garant said in addition to his duties as village employee, he creates video for the village with his company FPS Inc. at $12,000 a year.

“He never does that when he’s on the clock, he’s always off the clock.” Garant said.

LaValle said he does not believe Wood was qualified for the position.

Crime

LaValle said the uptown area has become intense in its illicit activity and said there has not been enough done to rectify it. He cites prostitution, drug dealing and a murder that occurred in July of last year just outside the Port Jefferson Billiards BDM.

He said in speaking to law enforcement that numerous buildings are fronts for drugs and prostitution, and they are currently collecting data.

“We literally have a slum right in front of us,” he said. “It’s literally a ghetto, and that’s the kind of thing that occurs there.”

The mayor said she talked consistently with the Suffolk County Police Department about illicit activity in Upper Port. She called her current relationship with the SCPD “the best it has been,” and added the security cameras having been hooked up to the county’s Real Time Crime Center is making strides in enforcing a police presence.

Garant said code enforcement is up at the station for every train and has helped bring in MTA police into the station, but she added they have no powers of arrest and can only create a presence and deal with immediate situations while waiting for police.

LaValle said the major issue with why crime has become so bad in Upper Port is due to the lethargic rate of the area’s revitalization.

Upper Port Jeff revitalization

Garant said part of the issue in redeveloping Upper Port comes down to the developers and owners of the uptown properties to manage their buildings. She said they had assisted in getting certain property owners government grants to demolish a particular property, but the negotiations with other developers stalled that progress and the grant funds were timed out, adding the problem is owners need to amass enough property in order to start real construction.

“We’re doing everything we can between revising the code, getting state grant money and partner to make applications to state agencies,” she said. 

As a last resort, she said the village would have to use eminent domain on these particular properties.

The mayoral challenger said in speaking with developers they are upset with the village, mostly in terms of getting permits for their properties. He said the planning staff have been restrictive in getting their applications through, except for specific developers.

“It shouldn’t take 10 years to take what is clearly an eyesore and turn it into a thriving uptown,” he said. “We need to bring the project to a finish, give the individuals their permits.”

The mayor said none of the developers are currently in the application process for permits. 

“The fact that people keep throwing the planning department under the rails … if he doesn’t have an application in,” she said.

She added the village is waiting for the Conifer Realty property, located in the old Bada Bing parcel, before putting in Station Street as part of her administration’s Uptown Funk project.

“You have to be careful with the density you give them, we’re only talking about four small blocks here,” Garant said.

The mayoral challenger said he does not support the Conifer development, citing an experience with them in Brookhaven Town and a need for “workforce housing, not affordable housing,” saying that affordable will eventually become Section 8 housing. He said village code should be changed to mandate affordable units in any new apartment complexes.

How the village will resist floods

With the potential for future storm surges and the threat of rising tides, Garant said the village is currently bringing a presentation to the Long Island Economic Development Council to request grant funding in terms of flood mitigation and stormwater runoff. 

She added that her administration is spending money to scope out the village’s drainage system, and the village is looking to find ways to absorb the water so it does not flood onto the village’s hardscape. 

“We’re in a bowl … these are low-lying marshland areas, it’s a great challenge,” she said. “There’s no magic bullet.”

LaValle said the village needs to look globally when it comes to flood mitigation.

“You got to bring in the best of the best, and I don’t know if we’re doing that,” he said.

Port Jefferson residents can vote on mayor and trustee candidates Tuesday, June 18, at the Village Center from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

A crash in Shoreham left several injured. Photo from Kevin Wood

A Shoreham teen was seriously injured in a crash at the corner of Route 25A and Miller Avenue the evening of June 13.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Melissa Marchese During an April 22 Softball game. Photo by Bill Landon

Suffolk County Police said Evan Flannery, of Shoreham, was driving a 2007 Hyundai Elantra southbound on Miller Avenue and was turning left into Route 25A when his car was struck by a 2006 Honda Accord, being driven westbound on Route 25A by Michael Troiano, of Ridge, at approximately 6:50 p.m.

A passenger in the Hyundai, Melissa Marchese, 18, of Shoreham, was airlifted via Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries.  Flannery, 17, and another passenger in the Hyundai, Caroline Tyburski, 18, of Shoreham, were transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with non-life-threatening injuries. Troiano, 34, was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead with non-life-threatening injuries.

Marchese has been known as a standout softball player in SWR, having been recognized as All-League in the Scholar-Athlete Team in March and is committed to the University of Hartford for softball.

The Shoreham-Wading River Central School District said they have cancelled all high school final exams for June 14 and released the following statement:

“Our hearts and thoughts are with the impacted students and their families. The district’s mental health team will be available in the high school library for student support today.”

A Gofundme for Marchese and her family can be found here.

The vehicles were impounded for safety checks. Anyone with information about this crash were asked by police to call the Seventh Squad at 631-852-8752.

This post has been updated with a statement from the SWR school district.

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Suffolk County police car. File photo
Security footage of man who allegedly robbed PJS Family Dollar. Photo from SCPD

An employee of a PJS Family Dollar was assaulted and the store robbed early this May.

A man assaulted an employee of Family Dollar, located at 526 Jefferson Plaza, May 2 at approximately 10:40 a.m. The man fled with a cash register drawer that contained approximately $200.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 800-220-TIPS (8477) or texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637). All calls and text messages will be kept confidential.

Suffolk County Police are looking to identify and locate two people who allegedly damaged vehicles in Miller Place.

A total of four vehicles parked at two different houses on Miller Place Road were damaged sometime overnight between May 23 and 24. Three tires and two windows were damaged on a 2013 Jeep Wrangler and three tires were damaged on a 2016 Dodge Ram at one home while two tires were damaged on both a 2010 Subaru Forester and a 2008 Toyota RAV4 at another home.

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Suffolk County Police 6th Precinct officers are trying to identify and locate two people who allegedly entered a marina illegally and untied boats in Port Jefferson back in April.

Two women allegedly climbed over the fence at Port Jefferson Marina on West Broadway and untied two boats sometime between April 25 at 6 p.m. and April 26 at 7 a.m.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 800-220-TIPS (8477) or texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637). All calls and text messages will be kept confidential.

File photo

Suffolk County Police arrested a Centereach man May 22 following a narcotics investigation. Police said the man was trying to sell drugs at a playground with his daughter beside him.

During the course of the investigation, detectives apprehended Chaleek Williams for possession and intent to sell crack cocaine on the playground at the Oxhead Road Elementary School, located at 144 Oxhead Road, allegedly with his two-year-old daughter present. Williams was also allegedly in possession of a quantity of MDMA. As he was being placed under arrest, police said Williams became combative and had to be restrained by officers.

Williams, 25, of Centereach, was charged with multiple counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to sell, as well as dndangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest.

Williams was overnight at the 3rd Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip May 23.

The child was released into the custody of family.

Police arrive at location of stranded mariners in their raft. Photo from SCPD
The three men rescued from off the Old Field coast in the Long Island Sound. Photo by SCPD

Suffolk police rescued three men who became stranded in a six-foot inflatable raft in the Long Island Sound May 19.

Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau officers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard at approximately 4:30 p.m. of an inflatable raft with three male occupants that were unable to make it back to shore. The three were fishing in the Long Island Sound, near Crane Neck Road in Old Field, when they were pulled approximately two miles off shore. Their boat did not have a motor and they were unable to paddle back due to winds blowing between 15 and 20 miles per hour.

Marine Bureau officers Robert Daniels and Peter Bogachunas responded in Marine Delta and located the men within 15 minutes of the initial call. All three occupants, Martin Villatoro, 23, Erick Villatoro, 26, and Ronald Benitez, 17, all of Bay Shore, were transported in Marine Delta, along with their raft, to Sunken Meadow State Park.

All three were wearing life vests and they were not injured.

District Attorney Tim Sini (D) pointing to a photo of one of the defendants, Guillermo Linares Alvarez, showing an 18th Street gang sign. Photo from DA’s office

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) and Homeland Security Investigations of New York announced May 14 the indictment of three 18th Street gang members for allegedly conspiring to murder two individuals they believed were MS-13 gang members.

 “This is one of many cases where my office and Homeland Security worked together to not only bring bad actors to justice, but to actually prevent violence,” Sini said. “We are no longer responding or waiting for tragedy to strike; we are taking a proactive approach, and due to excellent law enforcement work, we are preventing murders.”

 Wilber Campos Chicas, know as “Troya,” 25, of Port Jefferson Station; Guillermo Linares Alvarez, known as “Extrano,” 19, of Huntington Station; and Isidro Aguirre Canelas, known as “Chino,” 26, of Centereach, are each charged with one count of conspiracy in the second degree, a felony.

 Chicas and Canelas have been identified by law enforcement as members of the Tiny Locos clique of the 18th Street gang, which is based in Port Jefferson Station; and Linares Alvarez has been identified as a member of the Shatto Park Locos clique, located in Huntington Station.

 An investigation by the district attorney’s office and Homeland Security that began in March revealed intelligence that Chicas, Alvarez and Canelas allegedly conspired to murder two victims who they believed were members of MS-13, which is 18th Street’s rival gang.

Between March 15 and April 24, the defendants allegedly took several steps in furtherance of the murder conspiracy, including sharing photos and descriptions of the two targets and their whereabouts. The defendants were allegedly going to use two machetes, which were owned by Alvarez, to murder the two victims. They also allegedly discussed obtaining a car to use while carrying out their attacks.

“But for the dedication and professionalism of Homeland Security, these murders likely would have occurred.”

— Tim Sini

The three defendants, all of whom entered the United States illegally, were apprehended by Homeland Security agents in April.

“Working quickly, agents were able to take all three defendants into custody before they were able to execute their plan,” Sini said. “But for the dedication and professionalism of Homeland Security, these murders likely would have occurred.”

 “Homeland Security and Suffolk County will not stand for violence at the hand of any gang member,” said Gerald Handley, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security New York. “Whether the intended victim is innocent or a known member of a gang, we pay the same attention to the details and remain as proactive as possible to stay in front of the violence. We will stand united with our law enforcement partners and continue to arrest and seek prosecution of gang members.”

 The three defendants were arraigned on the indictment on March 13 by Suffolk County Acting County Court Judge Karen M. Wilutis and were remanded without bail.

 If convicted of the top count, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of eight to 25 years in prison. Chicas, Alvarez and Canelas are due back in court respectively on May 29, 30 and 31. 

 “Today is the latest example of Suffolk County law enforcement using the conspiracy statutes under New York State law to prevent violence,” Sini said. “We are collecting intelligence, analyzing that intelligence and disseminating it in a way that is allowing us to prevent violence and hold dangerous gang members accountable. None of this would be possible without the partnership between my office and Homeland Security as well as other law enforcement agencies.”

Investigators identify and continue to investigate Operation Pay Dirt, New York State’s largest alleged dumping conspiracy. Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

Smithtown resident Anthony “Rock” Grazio, the self-proclaimed “dirt broker,” plead guilty in an alleged illegal dumping conspiracy on Long Island.    

Smithtown resident Anthony ‘Rock’ Grazio. Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced the guilty plea May 2 after digging into the issue over the last 15 months. Thirty people, including Grazio, and nine corporations were indicted in November 2018 in an ongoing investigation called Operation Pay Dirt.

More than 24 Long Island dump sites were involved in the alleged conspiracy.

“As I’ve stated before, we are facing an epidemic of environmental crimes in Suffolk County,” Sini said. “This case was a great first step forward in ending those crimes. This plea, and Grazio’s pending prison sentence, will send a strong message to polluters that crime does not pay.” 

Between January and July 2018, as part of the alleged illegal dumping conspiracy, Grazio would allegedly act as a dirt broker by arranging for locations where trucking companies could illegally dispose of solid waste. Grazio posted advertisements on the website craigslist and on OfferUp, a marketplace app, for “clean fill,” or material that could be used for residential landscaping projects. He also solicited homeowners over the phone and in person for locations to use for dumping. Grazio would then coordinate with the owners or operators of trucking companies and solid waste management facilities to have solid waste illegally dumped at those properties.

In February 2018, the District Attorney’s Office, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Suffolk County Police Department began an investigation into the alleged Island-wide conspiracy. The months-long investigation involved the use of electronic and physical surveillance, including court-authorized eavesdropping. 

“During their phone conversations, Rock and the owners or operators of the trucking companies would discuss residential and commercial sites and the amount of material that could be dumped at a particular site,” Sini said. “The bigger the property, the better for the defendants, as this scam was all about making money.” 

Sini said that when an ideal property was found, Grazio could often be heard directing his co-conspirators to “hit it hard.” 

“This is a situation where people deliberately skirted the law to line their pockets with money and acted out of pure greed at the expense of the public health of residents of Suffolk County,” Sini said. 

DEC testing of the illegally dumped solid waste found that six of the locations contained acutely hazardous substances and 17 sites contained hazardous substances under New York State Environmental Conservation Law. The acutely hazardous substances included aldrin, dieldrin and heptachlor, which are all pesticides. The hazardous substances identified include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc and mercury, which are all metals.

Nineteen of the 24 locations are residential, four are commercial and one is a school. The solid waste dumped at the school was immediately removed.

Grazio, 54, plead guilty to two counts of criminal mischief in the second degree, a felony; two counts of endangering public health, safety or the environment in the third degree, a felony; conspiracy in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor; and operating a solid waste management facility without a permit, a misdemeanor.

Grazio is scheduled to be sentenced by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei July 15. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Grazio faces a sentence of two to four years in prison and a restitution judgment order in the amount of $500,000. This case is being prosecuted by assistant district attorneys Luigi Belcastro, Laura Sarowitz and Adriana Noyola of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau.

The investigation is ongoing, and Sini convened a special grand jury in November to hear evidence and make recommendations regarding illegal dumping in Suffolk County. The grand jury is still impaneled. 

Residents who believe they are a victim of illegal dumping can contact the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at 631-853-5602 or InfoDA@suffolkcountyny.gov. They can also contact the NYS DEC’s 24-hour Poacher and Polluter hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS, 1-844-332-3267.

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