Tags Posts tagged with "Suffolk County Police"

Suffolk County Police

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County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant listen to SCPD Chief of Department Stuart Cameron on the new Real Time Crime Center. Photo from Kevin Wood

PJ first village to connect with Real Time Crime Center

Suffolk County Police will be keeping tabs on Port Jefferson village in a new way.

Village of Port Jefferson officials announced that it’s become the first village on Long Island to connect through videography with the Suffolk County’s new Real Time Crime Center. This allows the police to tap into the eight existing village security cameras positioned in places like the train station and the three-way intersection at West Broadway and Main Street.

Connections to the RTCC were made April 15 after piloting the program for a few months with one of the cameras in upper Port Jeff, according to village parking administrator Kevin Wood. He said most of the cameras help cover parking lots and high-traffic streets within the village.

“Having strategically placed high-definition cameras recording in public places 24/7 for the village to look back on for accidents or crime events is valuable,” Wood said in an email. “Having the SCPD also receiving these same video feeds in real time to their brand new RTCC adds an extra layer of security and response for the residents and visitors of Port Jefferson village. I certainly feel this is positive and a deterrent for negative activity.”

“It’s not because a crime is occurring, but they’re using more and more real time tools to help reduce crime.”

— Margot Garant

The RTCC was introduced in March this year and was funded with both county capital and grant funds. The county announced the finished crime center with the intent of cracking down on crime in the Island’s downtown locations. Earlier this month village officials were invited to the RTCC, located in Yaphank, to view the new system with County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron.

Village Mayor Margot Garant said it would be especially effective in tracking shoplifting crimes in the village, with the cameras able to identify vehicle’s license plates or people as they move in front of village shops. She said the cameras have recently aided in catching a shoplifter who stole from The East End Shirt Company.

“Some people ask, ‘Why is there a police helicopter going around Port,” Garant said. “It’s not because a crime is occurring, but they’re using more and more real time tools to help reduce crime.”

The village also has access to these cameras, and the code enforcement bureau has access via a single screen in their offices.

Police would have the ability to control individual cameras, which she said act on swivels to cover more area. Whether or not this means more surveillance for village residents and visitors, Garant said police wouldn’t be looking at each camera every second of every day.

“We’re using these tools to keep crime out of here, not spy on people,” she said. “This is what has to be done.”

Jeans placed in the Safe Center LI Bethpage headquarters in recognition of National Denim Day which looks to support survivors of sexual violence. Photo by Kyle Barr

This post is in regards to a story published on April 25 about Raymond Radio III, who allegedly ran a sex trafficking ring in his parents’ house located in Sound Beach.

The house on Lower Rocky Point Road that allegedly was used by Raymond Rodio III for sex trafficking is well known in the community for its multitudes of colorful lawn ornaments. For residents of the small North Shore hamlet, with a population barely over 7,500, reactions on social media ranged from disbelief to outrage. 

But sex trafficking has become a growing front for those linked to the illicit drug trade, and according to those who try and work with those who have been victims of sex trafficking, the trade is well-linked to the middle-class suburban areas of Long Island.

The house where Raymond Rodio III allegedly committed acts of sex trafficking. Photo by Kyle Barr

Emily Waters is the director of Human Trafficking Programs at The Safe Center LI, a Bethpage nonprofit that assists the survivors of drug addiction, domestic abuse, child abuse and other issues. She said the issue of sex trafficking has only escalated in recent years, due in part to the opioid crisis that has killed millions across the nation. The center is currently involved with more than 130 human trafficking cases on Long Island, including minors and adults involved in sex and labor, but cases like the one in Sound Beach, she said, are extremely common. 

Waters said these human traffickers, often called pimps, use drug addiction as a means of control of these people, mostly women. She said the average age for these young women is 14 or 15 years old, though she has personally been involved, in the United States, with cases of one as young as 9 years old.

“A victim can look like anyone,” Waters said. “Could be anyone from a high socioeconomic background to somebody who’s living in poverty.”

Worse, sex trafficking has become, in many cases, a more profitable business for criminals. Keith Scott, the director of education at the Safe Center, said a pimp could make upwards of $280,000 a year, and that the practice is often harder to prosecute on the polices’ end.

In 2017, the Suffolk County Police Department, at the time headed by Sini, launched a pilot program to go after human traffickers, according to the DA’s office. In 2018, Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart adopted the Human Trafficking Investigations Unit while the DA launched its own team to track human traffickers.

For years, human trafficking has been growing as an issue. Data from the New York National Human Trafficking Hotline show there have been more than 6,400 calls and more than 2,000 cases of sex trafficking for New York since 2007. The vast majority of these are sex trafficking, and the vast majority are with women.

A 2017 report by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health said the top sex trafficking venues are commercial-front brothels (with legitimate businesses up front and illegal sex work in the back), online advertising venues such as craigslist and hotel- or motel-based venues.

Those who have worked to get people treatment understand the issue has grown on Long Island, people like Joe Czulada, a graduate of the Riverhead school district and Riverhead resident until recently who moved with his wife to Brooklyn, where she operates a funeral home. Czulada worked as an interventionist, helping to put people into recovery for about five years. He saw the way the opioid epidemic was tied to the illicit sex trafficking industry. What he saw was mostly young women from small hamlets, those who were often addicted to drugs, and whose pimps used that addiction as leverage against them.

“It’s prevalent, it’s become ever more prevalent, the whole industry,” Czulada said. “It’s everywhere, in every small town here on Long Island.”

The work was emotionally draining, especially in seeing people go in and out of recovery, often ending up back on the street or back with the people who abused.

Cases of sex trafficking with prostitutes over the age of consent require proving a form of cohesion. Many cases, like the alleged one of Rodio, come in the form of what Waters called the “chemical tether,” or the trauma bonding between a trafficker and victim. The pimps often come in two forms, ones who expressly use violence to maintain control, and the others who first get the trust of girls, often abusing their need for affection if they come from affectionless backgrounds, and then hooking them on drugs in the process. Scott said opioids are often used, especially in modern cases of sex trafficking, because it makes those victims more docile. Stimulants, like cocaine, are also used often. Those sex traffickers use the threat of withholding drugs as cohesion. In many cases, the pimps will effectively brand women with tattoos, which can range from the pimp’s name to words like “whore,” effectively reducing their chance of being able to get employment if they wished to escape the life.

A patchwork quilt hung up in the Safe Center LI’s headquarters in Bethpage. Photo by Kyle Barr

The biggest misconception when it comes to sex trafficking is that it only happens to those in poverty. Cases like the one alleged in Sound Beach show just how tangible the reality is for middle-class areas. And in the age of the Internet, pimps also find these victims through social media, luring in these young women through the promise of affection and drugs. Waters said recruitment also often occurs at schools. Often sex work is sold through online websites, such as craigslist, but she said it also occurs at more than 20 other websites, and even on mobile dating apps such as Tinder.

Beyond that, it takes a campaign of education, starting with local schools, to keep the community informed. It takes people knowledgeable about the warning signs, and a need for people to call the police if they suspect someone is engaged in sex trafficking.

“People may not know what they’ve seen, but they’ve seen something,” said Scott, who grew up in Smithtown and currently lives in Kings Park. He knows the North Shore and said despite its prototypical sense of suburbia and pockets of wealth, residents need to understand what issues creep into the smallest of residential neighborhoods. 

“People often don’t want to realize it’s going on in their own backyard,” he said.

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Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced April 30 the arrest of a Town of Brookhaven employee for allegedly stealing more than 500 gallons of diesel fuel from Town fuel facilities since August 2015.

Daniel Curtin, 50, of Wading River, was arrested April 29 and charged with multiple counts of grand larceny for stealing the fuel.

“We will not tolerate the theft of public funds or government property for someone’s own personal use,” Sini said. “I thank the Town of Brookhaven for bringing this matter to my Office’s attention and continuing to partner with us to protect taxpayers.”

Curtin, who is employed as a foreman for the Town of Brookhaven’s Highway Department, was issued a 2012 Ford pick-up truck by the town to be used for official business and to transport him to and from work. Curtin was permitted to obtain unleaded gasoline for the truck at various town fuel facilities. Curtin’s duties and responsibilities did not require any use of diesel fuel, the DA said.

Curtin is alleged to have stolen a total of 510.40 gallons of diesel fuel from town facilities on 75 separate occasions between Aug. 8, 2015, and Jan. 2, 2019. The fuel had a total value of $1,023.50.

The investigation revealed that Curtin was allegedly using the fuel for a heater in the garage of his house.

The case was referred to the District Attorney’s Office by Town of Brookhaven officials. Curtin has been an employee of the town for approximately 29 years.

If convicted of the top count, Curtin faces a maximum sentence of two and one-third to seven years in prison.

Curtin was arraigned on the charges April 29 by Suffolk County District Court Judge Gaetan B. Lozito and was released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court June 18.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kevin Ward of the Public Integrity Bureau.

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The vehicle Bruce Brant allegedly drove into the Rose Caracappa Senior Center April 30. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Guess he didn’t try knocking first.

Senior citizens who attend activities at Mount Sinai’s Rose Caracappa Senior Center were in for a surprise when they arrived for morning activities. The whole front door was pasted over with plywood after a man allegedly crashed his vehicle into the senior center in the early morning April 30, police said.

Bruce Brant was allegedly driving a 2012 Mazda3 northbound on North Ocean Avenue when he failed to stop at the end of the roadway and crashed the vehicle into the Rose Caracappa Senior Center, located at 739 Route 25A, at around 12:25 a.m. The vehicle came to a stop inside the building, according to Suffolk County Police.

Mount Sinai Fire Department Heavy Rescue extricated Brant from the Mazda. He was transported to John T. Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. There were no other injuries.

Town of Brookhaven workers were there at around 1 a.m. after the car had been extricated to make repairs on the front door, which were completed without interruption to center activities. A Brookhaven spokesperson said the town had not yet completed a cost estimate on repairs.

Brant, 25, of Pennsylvania, was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He will be arraigned at a later date. 

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Suffolk County Police have arrested a Medford man for allegedly committing four armed robberies this month.

A man allegedly entered four businesses between April 5 and April 21, displayed what appeared to be a handgun, demanded cash and fled with proceeds. Following an investigation, police determined the robberies were committed by Eric Wright, 31.

Major Case Section detectives charged Wright with four counts of robbery in the first degree for the following robberies:

• Subway, located at 18 Woods Corner Road in Setauket, April 15 at approximately 7:15 p.m.

• 7-Eleven, located at 811 Waverly Ave. in Holtsville, April 21 at approximately 7:30 a.m.

• Aura Vape Store, located at 1110 Middle Country Road in Selden, April 11 at 9:07 p.m.

• Conoco Gas Station, located at 626 Old Medford Ave. in Patchogue, April 5 at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Additionally, 6th Squad detectives charged Wright with grand larceny third degree and criminal possession of stolen property third degree for pawning jewelry he allegedly stole from a Setauket home.   

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Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) during a press conference about an alleged sex trafficking operation in Sound Beach. Photo from DA's office.

A Sound Beach man was indicted for allegedly conducting a human trafficking ring out of his parents’ house since at least 2014.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) and the Suffolk County Police Department said Raymond Rodio III, 47, allegedly operated a sex trafficking ring of over 20 women by luring them with the promise of crack cocaine and heroin, and then using that addiction as leverage against them. The man also allegedly kept the women in horrible conditions in his parents’ basement for long stretches of time.

“This is a dangerous and depraved individual,” Sini said in a release. “He kept women locked up in the basement of his parents’ house, using the basement as a dungeon. He preyed on women using their vulnerabilities and their drug dependencies to maintain his control over them. With this indictment, we are putting an end to his criminal operation and his victimization of over 20 women.”

In August 2018, the Suffolk County Police Department identified a suspected victim of human trafficking during a routine traffic stop. An investigation by the Police Department’s Human Trafficking Investigations Unit revealed evidence that the victim had allegedly been forced into sex trafficking by Rodio in the spring of 2018.

Further investigation by county police and the DA’s human trafficking sections revealed Rodio was allegedly trafficking women out of the basement of his parents’ residence, located on Lower Rocky Point Road in Sound Beach, since 2014. The investigation identified more than 20 victims of Rodio’s alleged sex trafficking operation. Rodio was arrested March 18.

Rodio would allegedly post advertisements on websites, including Backpage and Craigslist, promoting prostitution by the victims and would keep either a large percentage or all of the profits of their prostitution, according to the district attorney’s office.

“This man preyed on vulnerable women, using threats and drugs to manipulate them for his own financial gain,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said.

The district attorney’s office said the investigation also revealed evidence Rodio would allegedly occasionally keep victims in the basement for extended periods of time and force them to use a bucket as a toilet because the basement does not have a bathroom. The door to the basement has an exterior lock to which Rodio had the only key. In addition to the house, Rodio also allegedly forced the victims to perform prostitution at various motels throughout Suffolk County.

Rodio is alleged to have used threats of violence to force victims to continue engaging in prostitution on his behalf. He also allegedly provided his victims with heroin and crack cocaine before prostituting them to impair their judgment.

“This creates a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult for victims to break,” Sini said. “That is precisely why my office and the Suffolk County Police Department have shifted the paradigm in how we deal with these cases. We treat the women as victims, because they are.”

Rodio has been charged with seven counts of sex trafficking, a B felony, one count of sex trafficking, a B violent felony, one count of promoting prostitution in the second degree, a C felony, one count of promoting prostitution in the thirddDegree, a D felony, and four counts of promoting prostitution in the fourth degree, an A misdemeanor. If convicted of the top count, Rodio faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

In addition to the sex trafficking charges, the Suffolk County Police Department’s Narcotics Section, in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Investigations Unit, began a subsequent investigation into alleged drug dealing by Rodio. The investigation resulted in Rodio being indicted by the District Attorney’s Office on March 22 and charged with five counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B felony.

Rodio was arraigned on the indictment in connection with the alleged human trafficking operation today by Suffolk County Acting Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho. Bail was set at $1 million cash or $2 million bond. He is due back in court May 21.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Daniel Cronin, of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau’s Human Trafficking Team.

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Police conducted a warrant search on the home located at 535 High Street March 28. Photo from a Port Jeff resident
Police conducted a warrant search on the home located at 535 High Street March 28. Photo from a Port Jeff resident

Port Jefferson Village officials were notified March 28 of Suffolk County Police executing a search warrant on a house on High Street over allegedly possessing narcotics.

Suffolk County Police Narcotics Section detectives conducted an investigation regarding 535 High Street in Port Jefferson, and executed a search warrant at the residence March 28, police said.

Police arrested Richard Shelton, 33, a resident of the home. Shelton was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance for allegedly possessing cocaine. Shelton was set to appear today, March 29 at Suffolk County First District court in Central Islip. There is no attorney information available for Shelton as of March 29.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Commack HIgh School. Photo from Google Maps

Suffolk County police officers arrested a man who works as an evening custodian for the Commack School District after a search found he had a stash of illegal guns and drugs inside his Patchogue home.

Patrick Musumeci, 30, was arrested Feb. 6 by police officers and faces 24 drug- and weapons-related charges.

Patrick Musumeci. Photo from SCPD

Following an investigation, Suffolk’s 5th Squad Special Operations Team and Emergency Section Service officers along with 5th Precinct Gang Unit officers executed a search warrant on Musumeci’s home on Wilmarth Avenue at approximately 5:35 a.m.

In the raid, officers found 16 guns inside the Patchogue home, including one Glock semiautomatic handgun, a Taurus semiautomatic handgun and four assault rifles, with ammunition. Two of the guns, a Smith & Wesson pistol and Ruger pistol had both previously been reported stolen. In addition to the guns, officers seized five sets of brass knuckles and a switchblade.

In addition to the weapons, Suffolk County police officers seized quantities of both prescription opiates and illegal drugs from the Patchogue home. The drugs found included oxycodone, Xanax, concentrated cannabis, marijuana, morphine pills and packaging materials.

Musumeci is charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, six counts of criminal possession in the seventh degree, two counts of criminal use of drug paraphernalia in the second degree, criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree, five counts criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, four counts criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree and one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree.

Commack school officials reacted to news of Musumeci’s arrest by posting a letter to district residents on its website.

“The district has found no evidence to date that he ever brought a weapon or drugs onto school property,” reads the district’s statement. “To date, we have not found any suspicious activity on school property.”

Prior to being hired, Musumeci was fingerprinted and underwent a background check by New York State, according to the district. He was cleared, and state law would have required the district to be notified of any subsequent arrests, of which they claim to have received none.

Commack school officials said the district also has conducted an extensive search of the employee lockers, areas of the buildings the evening custodian was responsible for overseeing and reviewed buildingwide video footage in the wake of the allegations.

“The district and its outside security consultant will continue to review its safety and security plans and determine whether or not additional precautions are warranted,” read the district’s statement.

Musumeci was arraigned Feb. 7 in 1st District Court in Central Islip. He was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond, which had not been posted as of Feb. 13.

Commack school officials said their investigation into the matter is ongoing and the district is fully cooperating with the Suffolk police department.

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Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a man in Cold Spring Harbor Thursday morning.

Jason Mocte-Zuma was operating a 2013 Honda Civic sedan northbound on Harbor Road when his vehicle struck a utility pole and overturned at approximately 11 a.m. Mocte-Zuma, 21, of Huntington Station, was transported by Cold Spring Harbor Rescue to Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead. There were no passengers in the vehicle.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact the 2nd Squad at 631-854-8252.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County Police Major Case Unit detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash in which a Huntington Station bicyclist was struck by a Suffolk County Police vehicle.

Two Suffolk County Police officers  in a marked police unit traveling northbound on New York Avenue, north of May Street, struck a man riding a bicycle across New York  Avenue from east to west at approximately 5:10 p.m. The officers were responding to a call and had their emergency lights operating, according to police.

The bicyclist, Miguel Angel Gaitan, 64, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital via Suffolk County Police helicopter with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The two officers were transported to Huntington Hospital for evaluation and released.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check.

Anyone with information on this crash is requested to contact Major Case unit detectives at 631-852-6555.