Police & Fire

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Suffolk County Police arrested two women who allegedly stole more than $43,000 from their employer during a nine-month period ending in August.

Elana Sofia and Sandra Bonilla, while employed at Goodwill Industries, located at 1900 Jericho Turnpike, East Northport, allegedly stole money from the company’s bank deposits from November 2020 until August 2021, according to Suffolk County Police.

Following an investigation by 2nd Squad detectives, Sofia was arrested on Oct. 4 and Bonilla was arrested on Oct. 5.

Sofia, 29, of Port Jefferson, and Bonilla, 33, of Brentwood, were charged with Grand Larceny 3rd Degree. Sofia was arraigned on Oct. 5 and Bonilla is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 6 at First District Court in Central Islip.

A criminal charge is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Updated Oct. 8 to correct the omission of “alleged” in the print version. We regret the mistake. 

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Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County Police Major Case Unit detectives are investigating a robbery that occurred at a Smithtown bank Oct. 2

A man entered TD Bank, located at 714 Smithtown Bypass, at approximately 11:50 a.m. and allegedly handed a teller a note indicating he had a gun and demanding cash. The teller complied with the suspect’s demands and gave him cash from the drawer. The robber fled on foot.

The robber was described as white, approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall with a heavy build and short black hair. He was wearing a Dallas Cowboys face mask, a dark sweatshirt, red or orange shorts and black sneakers.

Detective are asking anyone with information on the robbery to call the Major Case Unit at 631-852-6555 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

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Suffolk County Police arrested a woman for unlicensed massages during a raid at a massage parlor in Miller Place, Tuesday, Sept. 21. 

In response to numerous community complaints, 6th Precinct Crime Section officers, in conjunction with Town of Brookhaven Building Inspector, Town Fire Marshal and Town Investigator conducted an investigation at This Oasis Spa, located at 595 Route 25A, Suite 20, Miller Place, at approximately 8:45 p.m.

Guping Duan, 52, of Flushing, Queens, was charged with two counts of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, a Class E Felony under the New York State Education Law. She is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on October 8, 2021. 

The Town of Brookhaven documented numerous violations and condemned the premises. 

A criminal charge is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

A farm complex broke out into flames Tuesday; Left: Seven Seas Construction helps combat the fire in Strong’s Neck. Photo from Setauket Fire Department

By Julianne Mosher & Rita J. Egan

When a fire broke out at a horse complex in Setauket Tuesday morning, more than a dozen different fire departments came together and helped.

One of those volunteers was Thomas Lund, owner of Seven Seas Construction Co. in Port Jefferson. 

Lund, who is also a volunteer firefighter with the Port Jefferson Fire Department, said he was aware of what was going on a town over and was gearing up to drive to work in Strong’s Neck when the fire broke out. 

“The fire happened to be sort of along the way. So, I figured I would bring the barge over,”  he said. “I knew they were bringing the fire boat, and I figured I could be a solid platform for them to work off of.”

While dozens upon dozens of fire trucks headed to the flames, along with the fire boat in the harbor, Lund said the team ended up using the water pump that he uses for dock building with his company. 

Photo from PJFD

“We were able to supply water until the fire broke out there,” he said. “At the very least we could give a hand because I knew it would be a big operation — a very small part of it, but I figured we could at least do something to help and we were able to, so it was great.” 

He added that for about 45 minutes, he and his fellow fighters stretched a line from his equipment on the deck, connecting it to another line at the dock. 

“It was a big operation from the start,” he said.

The fire initially broke out at 10 a..m Sept. 21 at 23 Brewster Lane, according to Setauket Fire Department Chief Scott Gressin. The SFD received mutual aid in excess of 16 surrounding departments.

The chief said a 19,000 square-feet structure, that was once used as an interior horse-riding arena, had heaving smoke and fire could be seen coming from multiple sides as firefighters arrived on the scene.

Gressin said the first approach was an offensive one; however, considering the fire load inside of the building, the first responders had to take a defensive approach.

There were no horses in the structure as it has not been used as a riding arena in some time. Gressin said horses in a nearby stable were under no threat. Two firefighters with burns were treated and released from the hospital.

Wednesday morning firefighters and investigators were still at the site. 

“It continues to be an active fire scene with a hazardous material incident involving buried propane tanks,” Gressin said. “I have multiple agencies working to mitigate the problem.”

Photo from PJFD

He said the SFD is coordinating with the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services. At this time, he cannot anticipate when the investigation will be completed.

Brookhaven’s Chief Fire Marshal Christopher Mehrman said the origin and cause investigation was concluded Tuesday. He said the reason was human error as an electrical conductor that shouldn’t have been energized was. Two electricians who received electrical shocks were transported to the hospital. Mehrman did not have their present status at press time.

Mehrman said the intensity of the fire caused two 1,000-gallon propane tanks to leak. Even though they are underground, the valving is above. He said HazMat technicians are on the scene to control the flow. The fire marshal said neighbors are not in any danger because the propane is being burned off which means no gas is accumulating.  

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Fire broke out at a Strong's Neck horse complex Sept. 21. Photo from Setauket Fire Department

A fire destroyed a structure at a horse complex at 23 Brewster Lane on Strong’s Neck Tuesday.

Flames broke out around 10 a.m., according to Setauket Fire Department Chief Scott Gressin. The SFD received mutual aid in excess of 16 surrounding departments.

The chief said a 19,000 square-feet structure, that was once used as an interior horse-riding arena, had heaving smoke and fire could be seen coming from multiple sides as firefighters arrived on the scene.

Gressin said the first approach was an offensive one; however, considering the fire load inside of the building, the first responders had to take a defensive approach.

There were no horses in the structure as it has not been used as a riding arena in some time. Gressin said horses in a nearby stable were under no threat. Two firefighters with burns were treated and released from the hospital.

Wednesday morning firefighters and investigators were still at the site.

“It continues to be an active fire scene with a hazardous material incident involving buried propane tanks,” Gressin said. “I have multiple agencies working to mitigate the problem.”

He said the SFD is coordinating with the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services. At this time, he cannot anticipate when the investigation will be completed.

Brookhaven’s Chief Fire Marshal Christopher Mehrman said the origin and cause investigation was concluded Tuesday. He said the reason was human error as an electrical conductor that shouldn’t have been energized was. Two electricians who received electrical shocks were transported to the hospital. Mehrman did not have their present status at press time.

Mehrman said the intensity of the fire caused two 1,000-gallon propane tanks to leak. Even though they are underground, the valving is above. He said HazMat technicians are on the scene to control the flow.

The fire marshal said neighbors are not in any danger because the propane is being burned off which means no gas is accumulating.

History

Margo Arceri, vice president of the Strong’s Neck Civic Association and a local historian, said the Brewster Lane property was originally owned by Selah Strong, who was a New York State Supreme Court justice in the 1800s. His children sold it to the Rawson publishing family.

“It became known as Blueberry Bay Farm, and they raised and sold Black Angus cows,” Arceri said. “At that point, it was the oldest continuously running farm in Suffolk County.”

She remembered the farm and the cows growing up on Strong’s Neck.

“I recall as a child being chased by the bulls on several occasions when a few of them escaped from time to time,” she said.

Arceri said it eventually became Spy Coast Farm where horses, which were world-class hunters and jumpers, were bred. The name was influenced by the Culper Spy Ring activity that took place in the area during the Revolutionary War, according to Arceri.

The farm was eventually sold to a private firm.

Suffolk County Police arrested a Selden man after he targeted Hispanic men and brought them to remote locations and attacked them.

Christopher Cella drove to the vicinity of La Placita, located at 711 Horseblock Road in Farmingville, and picked up a 52-year-old Holbrook resident at approximately 8:15 a.m. on Friday, September 17. Cella brought the man to an abandoned construction site on Blue Point Road in Farmingville, where he attacked him.

Photo from SCPD

Cella then left the construction site and drove to the vicinity of 7-Eleven, located at 3000 North Ocean Ave. in Farmingville, where,  just after 9 a.m., he picked up a 60-year-old Medford resident. Cella brought him to the Blue Ridge Condominium Complex, located on Granny Road in Medford. There, Cella attacked and choked the man before the victim was able to escape.

The following morning, at approximately 8 a.m., Cella went back to the North Ocean Avenue location and picked up a third victim, a 47-year-old Brentwood resident. Cella attempted to bring him to an unknown location. The man became suspicious and was able to get out of the vehicle. 

 Suffolk County Police Hate Crimes Unit detectives, in coordination with 6th Squad detectives and Sixth Precinct Crime Section officers, arrested Cella, 19, of 254 Adirondack Drive, without incident at his home at approximately 10:15 a.m. on Sunday. He was charged with two counts of Aggravated Harassment 2nd Degree, two counts of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing, two counts of Unlawful Imprisonment 2nd Degree under the Hate Crimes Law, and one count of Reckless Endangerment 1st Degree under the Hate Crimes Law. 

“The defendant allegedly targeted these victims because of their ethnicity and lured them in under false pretenses before carrying out these violent attacks,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini. “This is a highly disturbing case, and my Office’s Hate Crimes Task Force will work in collaboration with the SCPD Hate Crimes Unit to investigate and prosecute these incidents thoroughly.”

Cella was arraigned on the charges today in Suffolk County First District Court and was released on supervised release with GPS monitoring. He is being represented by the Legal Aid Society and is due back in court on Sept. 24.

The investigation is ongoing, and Sini urges anyone who believes he or she may be a victim of Cella to contact the Suffolk County Police Department’s Hate Crimes Unit at 631-852-6553.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Sheetal Shetty, of the Felony Offense Bureau’s Major Crime Unit, who is a member of the District Attorney’s Office’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

Twenty years ago, the United States changed forever when four hijacked jetliners were intentionally crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania. At Ground Zero in New York City, the traditional reading of names of each victim will resume this year at the 9/11 Memorial in New York and the following ceremonies will be held on the North Shore to honor the thousands of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, a day that will live forever in our hearts.

Centereach

The Centereach Fire Department, 9 South Washington Ave., Centereach invites the community to join them on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. for its annual 9/11 Memorial Services and candle lighting ceremony. Refreshments to be served after ceremony. 631-588-8652, ext. 1

East Northport

The East Northport Fire Department, 1 Ninth Ave., East Northport will host two 9/11 memorial services on Sept. 11  — a morning ceremony at 9:45 a.m. and an evening candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. 631-261-0360 

Hauppauge

The Hauppauge Fire Department, 855 Wheeler Road, Hauppauge will host a Remembrance Ceremony at its 9/11 Memorial on Sept 11 at 7 p.m. 631-265-2499

Huntington

The public is invited to join Town of Huntington officials, the Veterans Advisory Board and local officials for a ceremony on Sept. 12 at noon at the Heckscher Park 9/11 memorial, 147 Main St., Huntington to honor and remember residents and first responders of the Town of Huntington who lost their lives on 9/11. 631-351-3012

Kings Park

Kings Park will host a commemorative event and memorial walk on Sept. 11 starting at 11 a.m. at Kings Park High School and concluding at the 9/11 Memorial at the corner of Church Street and Old Dock Road. A ceremony with a live reading of the names of those from Suffolk and Nassau Counties who perished on 9/11 will follow. 631-973-6006  x1004

Nesconset

The 9/11 Responders Remembered Park, 316 Nesconset Blvd., Nesconset will host its annual naming ceremony on Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. 631-724-3320

Port Jefferson

The Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America Vigiano Brothers Lodge 3436 invite the community to join them for a candlelight remembrance of 9/11 at Harborfront Park, 101 East Broadway, Port Jefferson on Sept. 11 starting at noon. Candles and refreshments will be provided. 631-928-7489

Rocky Point

The Rocky Point Fire Department will host a ceremony at the 9/11 Community Memorial, at the corner of Route 25A and Tesla Street in Shoreham, on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. 631-744-4102

Setauket

The Setauket Fire Department will conduct a 9/11 memorial ceremony at the Hook and Ladder Company 1, Station 3, 394 Nicolls Road, Setauket on Sept. 11 at 8  p.m. followed by refreshments in the firehouse. Call 631-941-4900, ext. 1043

Smithtown

The Town of Smithtown, in conjunction with the Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, will host a Remembrance Ceremony at its 9/11 Memorial Park just off Main Street in Smithtown on Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. 631-360-7512

Sound Beach

The Sound Beach Fire Department, 152 Sound Beach Blvd., Sound Beach will hold its annual Service of Remembrance ceremony on Sept. 11 at 10 a.m. 631-744-4994

Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County Police Second Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a dirt bike operator in East Northport the night of Sept. 4.

Nicholas Woodworth, 13, of Greenlawn was operating a Honda dirt bike when he went through a traffic light at the intersection of  Larkfield Road and Pulaski Road and was struck by a 2020 Chevrolet Equinox driven by Mary Mollica, 49, of East Northport. The teenager was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The vehicle and dirk bike were impounded for safety checks. Anyone with information on this crash is asked to call the Second Squad at 631-854-8252.

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Suffolk County Police last night arrested a man for Leandra’s Law for driving while allegedly intoxicated with his three children in the vehicle following a crash in Commack.

Ryan McDonald was driving a 2019 Nissan Pathfinder northbound on Townline Road, just south of Old Northport Road, when the vehicle left the roadway and crashed into a large boulder at approximately 7:10 p.m. McDonald’s three children, a 6-month-old boy, a 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, were in the backseat of the Pathfinder. Fourth Precinct police officers responded to the scene and determined McDonald was intoxicated.

McDonald and the children were transported to a local hospital. McDonald was treated for minor injuries. The children were not injured and were released to the custody of their mother at the hospital.

Fourth Squad detectives charged McDonald, 33, of Commack, with Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated with a Child Passenger 15 Years Old or Younger (Leandra’s Law), Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs, and three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. He is being held overnight at the Fourth Precinct and was scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Aug. 19.

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Suffolk County Police 6th Squad detectives are investigating a shooting that took place outside a residence in Port Jefferson Station Tuesday night.

Sixth Precinct officers responded to 95 Pine St. after a 911 call reported a man shot at approximately 11:40 p.m. on Aug. 17. When officers arrived they found Angel Bermudez in the backyard with two gunshot wounds.

Bermudez had left a party inside the residence when he was shot. Bermudez, 26, of Freeport, was transported to a local hospital in serious but stable condition.

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. All calls will remain confidential.