Police & Fire

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Suffolk County Police said two North Shore residents were shot and injured outside an East Patchogue bar early Saturday morning.

Police said a man was escorted from El Buen Ambiente, located at 466 East Main St. in East Patchogue, following an altercation with another patron. The man retrieved a handgun from his vehicle and began shooting, striking two bystanders outside the bar at approximately 1:30 a.m, Oct. 24.

A 39-year-old Lake Grove man, who was shot twice in his legs, was transported to Long Island Community Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. A 26-year-old Northport man, who was struck once in the leg, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

The shooter fled in an unknown direction.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this incident to call the 5thSquad at 631-854-8552 or to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.

Suffolk County Legislator William "Doc" Spencer. File photo

*Updated to include information about actions by the Suffolk County legislature.*

Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) was arrested Tuesday for allegedly attempting to trade oxycodone for sex.

Spencer, who is a legislator for the 18th district and was in a Suffolk County vehicle at the time of the arrest Oct. 20, allegedly planned to meet a prostitute in the parking lot of a Goodwill store in Elwood to trade sex for the pills, which were reportedly oxycodone, a legal form of an opioid. Authorities had arranged a sting operation.

Spencer, who had two oxycodone pills in his possession at the sting operation, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a class B felony, and criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, a class B felony.

Spencer, 53, was arraigned on Wednesday at the John P. Cohalan Jr. Courthouse in Central Islip. The man has been a legislator since 2012 and serves on the county’s opioid task force.

Spencer is due back in court on Feb. 26th. If convicted of the top count, he could face a maximum of up to nine years in prison.

Assistant District Attorneys Kevin Ward and Laura de Oliveira, of the Public Integrity Bureau, are prosecuting the case.

“The message here is that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office will continue to work in partnership with all of the law enforcement agencies operating here on Long Island, including the DEA and members of the Long Island Heroin task Force, to hold criminals accountable no matter who they are or what their walk of life is,” Suffolk DA Tim Sini (D) said in a statement.

“Law enforcement officers follow the evidence and this time, the evidence led to a prominent member of the community,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said in a statement.

Spencer was the chief of otolaryngology at Huntington Hospital. In a statement, a Huntington Hospital spokeswoman said Spencer is “not an employed physician at Huntington Hospital but has privileges as a voluntary physician with his own private practice. His privileges at the hospital have been temporarily suspended pending further investigation.”

Spencer is also Associate Clinical Professor at Stony Brook University Hospital. Spencer has not had medical privileges at Stony Brook University Hospital since 2014, a hospital official said.

Spencer runs a private practice, Long Island Otolaryngology & Pediatric Airway in Huntington.

Suffolk County Republican Committee Chairman Jesse Garcia was quick to jump on the news, calling in a release for Spencer to step down “immediately” as a county legislator.

In a statement, Garcia called Spencer’s alleged actions a violation of his oath as a doctor and elected official.

“This alleged act was an attempt to abuse his position of power and trust, prey on women, and take advantage of those he believed were prisoners of addiction,” Garcia said in a statement. “His legislative record of sponsoring dozens of resolutions focusing on health and drug abuse makes this alleged drug-for-sex trade all the more evil, because he clearly knew the consequences of his behavior on his intended victim.”

Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco issued a statement in response to Spencer’s arrest, saying he has stepped down as Democrat majority leader.

Calarco said, “Legislator Spencer has stepped down from his position as Majority Leader of the Legislature’s Democratic caucus. He is also being removed from his post as chair of the Legislature’s Health Committee which subsequently removes him from any assignments linked to that chairmanship, including serving on the Legislature’s Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel.”

“There is nothing in the law that requires a legislator to resign while charges are pending, and while the allegations against Legislator Spencer are serious, he is entitled to his day in court,” Calarco continued. “My colleagues and I remain focused on continuing the business of the people. The Democratic caucus will convene in the future to select a new Majority Leader, and a new health committee chair will be chosen in due time.”

Spencer is married and has three children.

Prior to his arrest, Spencer had been involved in several legislative efforts, including to combat the effects of the opioid epidemic. Spencer proposed a resolution that passed unanimously to make Narcan, which reverses the effects of narcotics, available to policy emergency responders in the Second Precinct.

Spencer had sponsored 35 resolutions, with close to 1/3 of them related to health and safety, including prohibiting smoking at county beaches and county parks. Spencer’s bills include a 5-cent fee for single use plastic bags, which stores started charging in January, 2018.

During his time in office, Spencer had worked to ban the sale of powdered caffeine to minors, raise the age of selling tobacco products, helped pass a measure to stop companies from manufacturing energy drinks to youth and led a ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

Last fall during the run up to his reelection, Spencer told the Times Beacon Record Newspapers he was committed to finding treatment and addiction solutions for people affected by the opioid crisis.

Spencer won reelection in 2019, defeating Republican Garrett Chelius and Independent Daniel West for a seat in a district representing Huntington, Halesite, Centerport, Northport, East Northport, Cold Spring Harbor, Lloyd Harbor among other towns.

An ordained minister, Spencer serves as the Pastor of Willow Manor Fellowship in Centerport.

Spencer was released on his own recognizance. He has to hand over his passport and a legal firearm.

This story was updated to include details about the number of pills Spencer had in his possession, the specific charges, the potential prison sentence if convicted, the names of the attorneys prosecuting the case, and comments from DA Sini and SCPD Commissioner Hart. The update also indicates that Spencer was released on his own recognizance and that Spencer is no longer the chief of otolaryngology at Huntington Hospital.

This story was updated Oct. 22 to update the statement by Rob Calarco.

The Greenway Trail runs between Port Jefferson Station and East Setauket. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Suffolk County Police detectives are investigating an incident during which a woman was attacked by a man while walking on the Port Jefferson Station to Setauket Greenway Trail Tuesday.

Police said a 54-year-old woman was walking on Greenway Trail around a quarter mile from the eastern entrance in Port Jefferson Station, at around 11:30 a.m. Oct. 21 when a man tackled her from behind. The woman was knocked to the ground and the man put his hand over her mouth and made comments that were sexual in nature. The man fled toward the trail entrance when the woman screamed as they were approached by another walker.

The man was described as Black, in his 30s, approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall and heavyset. He was wearing a black sweatshirt with green sweatpants with a black stripe down the side. The woman was not injured.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this incident to call the 6th precinct at 631-854-8652 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.

Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad and Arson Section detectives are investigating a fire that killed a man in East Northport. Photo from Google Maps

Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad and Arson Section detectives are investigating a fire that killed a man in East Northport Oct. 19.

Second Precinct officers were called to 257 4th St. at approximately 6:50 a.m. after a 911 caller reported a fire at the location.

Resident Edward Woiczechowski, 68, was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner.

Woiczechowski’s wife, Cheryl, 62, and son, Robert, 33, who also live at the home, were both transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

A preliminary investigation has determined the cause of the fire to be non-criminal in nature.

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Rocky Point Fire District residents file into the district offices in Shoreham to cast their votes. Photo by Kyle Barr

RPFD is going ahead with a new $1 million bond after a community vote Tuesday, Oct. 13, with a narrow margin of just 18 votes. 

The community in the Rocky Point Fire District, which covers the Rocky Point and Shoreham hamlets, voted 271 to 253 on new funds to finish the Station 2 firehouse construction project on King Road.

Officials have previously said that because of a delayed start, expanding construction costs and the pandemic they do not have the funds to complete the original $7.25 million project. District officials cited the projects late start, as well as increased costs due to the ongoing pandemic for why they needed these new funds. 

“We are all very pleased that a majority of our residents came out and supported the project,” David Brewer, vice chairman of the board of fire commissioners, said in a statement. “We are equally pleased that some of the misinformation and inaccuracies posted on some social media sites didn’t adversely affect the outcome of the vote. From the beginning, the board of fire commissioners has been committed to providing our members and residents with a safe and modern firehouse. Our goal remains unchanged and that is to complete this building despite many financial setbacks and delays, and we thank all of our supporters.”

Social distancing and mask wearing rules were enforced, though the district did not allow people to cast absentee ballots, citing the extra time it would take to count those ballots as well.

In a Zoom call last week relating to this vote, officials said the new bond will cost residents an average of $18 more per year on their fire district taxes, though they could not relate how many years it may take to pay off the new bond.

Officials expect the project to be finished around the end of the year.

More Details on the Station 2 Firehouse Project

The district originally asked the community to support a $8.5 million bond in 2017, where $7.25 million would go to the construction of the new firehouse. Fire District Chairman Anthony Gallino said they originally included about 7% contingency of over $500,000. This new $1 million bond is looking at a 25% contingency of about $250,000. Gallino added that any unused funds of the new bond will be put to paying down the bond.

“We realized that [the original contingency] was not enough to cover obstacles, so we put a little more in there for this building,” Gallino said. 

On Saturday, Oct. 10, district officials made a full breakdown of the project budget available. Documents show the district lacked $752,310 to complete the firehouse. That number is out of a remaining $1.5 million on a firehouse that is 75% complete. The district still has $500,000 in contingency bond funds and $293,814 left in money taken from the general fund.

There were issues on the project from the start, officials said during the call. The project manager they originally hired put out bids which were routinely around $1 million over budget. In August 2018, the district terminated its contract with its original construction manager. In February 2019, they hired a new project manager, Devin Kulka, the CEO of Hauppauge-based Kulka Group, and were able to get started with asbestos abatement in May 2019 and demolition followed in June. Materials and labor costs, especially with New York’s prevailing wage, also increased from when the bond vote was passed. The pandemic made things even more complicated. 

Documents show there were items that came in way over what they were originally budgeted for several years ago, resulting in the $752,310 shortfall. HVAC, for example, was slated for $600,000, but is now awarded at $925,000. While a few items came slightly under budget, those overages make up the total of the project’s $1.5 million excess.

Kulka said during the Zoom call there was one contractor company that went under during construction due to COVID-19. He confirmed a surety company would be cutting a check for the cost between the work the contractor already did and what it wasn’t able to complete.

Gallino said materials costs increased by 10%. Some community members questioned what the cost could be on what has already been constructed, which now resembles a cinder block exterior, but officials said the price of prevailing wages kept costs high.

Currently the station 2 company is housed in the old Thurber Lumber property on King Road, which is owned by local developer Mark Baisch. The developer allowed the company into the property free of charge but plans to turn that property into a slate of 55-and-older rental pieces and would need the fire company to be out by the end of the year.

This article was updated Oct. 15 to include extra information and a quote from the fire district.

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Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County Police today arrested a Port Jefferson Station man for allegedly notfatally shooting a man in Coram last Friday.

A 19 year old man was standing in front of 101 Aycock Place in Coram when he was shot in his side at around 10:10 p.m. The man was transported to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, though police did not provide additional details.

On Tuesday, Oct, 13, 6th precinct detectives charged Mark Miller, 20, of 530 Bicycle Path, with 1st degree assault. He is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip the same day.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the shooting to contact the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls will remain confidential.

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Police said a car crash seriously injured a pedestrian while he was in the road just south of the Port Jefferson LIRR station Monday, Oct. 12. 6th precinct detectives are investigating.

Suffolk County Police said a man was driving a 2015 Mitsubishi sedan southbound on Route 112, north of Wilson Street, when the vehicle struck another man in the roadway at around 8 p.m. The names of both people involved were withheld by police, as the pedestrian was awaiting notification of next of kin.

Police did not reveal whether the person injured was at a crosswalk or not. The pedestrian was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to contact the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls are kept confidential.

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Suffolk County Police detectives said they are investigating the death of a woman found in a wooded area in Centereach Sunday, Oct. 11.

Police said 6th Precinct officers responded to a 911 call reporting a female body lying in a wooded area off of Hawkins Road, near Eastwood Boulevard, at around 12:10 p.m.

Jaclyn D’Andrea, 33, of Bellmore, was pronounced dead by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner. An autopsy was performed and the cause of death is under investigation.

Police are asking anyone with information on this incident to contact detectives at 631-852-6392.

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Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County Police 5th Squad detectives are investigating a crash that killed a St. James woman who likely suffered a medical emergency while driving Oct. 11.

Nancy Prete was driving a 2018 Nissan Frontier westbound on Montauk Highway at the intersection of North Prospect Avenue when she suffered an apparent medical emergency and veered off the road, striking a utility pole at approximately 5:10 p.m., according to police.

Prete, 76, was transported via ambulance to Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue where she was pronounced dead.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to call the 5th Squad at 631-854-8552.

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Suffolk County Police reported a Centereach man was seriously injured Sunday night in the parking lot of a local bar.

Police said Gary Harnig, 48 of Centereach, was standing in the parking lot of Jack McCarthy’s Pub, located at 2582 Middle Country Road, when he was struck by a vehicle at around 10 p.m, Oct. 11. Harnig was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital in serious but stable condition.

The motor vehicle, described as a white pickup truck, fled the scene southbound on Lake Grove Boulevard, according to police.. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to contact the 4th Squad at 631-854-8452 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls will remain confidential.