Times of Smithtown

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Fifth-graders at St. James Elementary School in the Smithtown Central School District held a wax museum for their classmates and families Feb. 14. 

After researching a historical figure of their choice, the students dressed the role and became part of the living museum. They portrayed famous historical people, sports stars and entertainment legends. When someone “buzzed” them, the figures came to life and were able to animate themselves and give a biographical history of their character.

Installation of the pre-treatment septic tank at Tom O'Dwyer's home in Strong's Neck. Photo from Tom O'Dwyer

By Perry Gershon

Suffolk County has a water crisis. We must do all we can to control our nitrogen waste to protect our drinking water, our soil, our rivers and our bays. The county and many of our towns have initiated rebate programs to encourage homeowners to install clean, nitrogen-removing septic systems. Suffolk County’s program, known as the Septic Improvement Program, or by the acronym SIP, has become a political football, and it’s the public and the environment that are the losers.

Perry Gershon. Photo from SCDC

SIP was designed to direct county payments directly to contractors, bypassing individual participants so their rebates would not be taxed as income. Suffolk County’s tax counsel delivered an opinion to the county attorney ruling that 1099 forms from SIP should go to contractors and not to consumers. This should have been the end of the story. However, Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy (R), while engaged in a campaign against County Executive Steve Bellone (D) during the elections last year, disagreed with the tax opinion and inquired of the IRS if county payments might be taxable to homeowners? Despite protestations from the county and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the IRS, always in need of funds, said yes, why not? The ruling was issued earlier this month. So now unsuspecting homeowners are receiving 1099 forms reporting unforeseen additional taxable personal income. What is essentially a new tax is sure to both impact those who already participate and dissuade future participants.

What can be done? Bellone and his administration are working to come up with alternative structures for the SIP program. Perhaps more can be done to clarify that transactions are between the county and the contractors to satisfy the IRS? Or perhaps an offsetting tax rebate can be legislated? Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) has written a letter to the IRS demanding they reconsider the decision. But Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) remains silent. Instead of joining Suozzi, Zeldin seems to support his fellow Republican Kennedy and once again ignores ways to save money for his constituents.

Does this surprise you? It should not, given Zeldin’s poor record historically on environmental and financial matters. Or that Zeldin has recently worked against New Yorkers on the repeal of the SALT cap and on Trump’s retaliation against the state by suspending New York applications to the Trusted Traveler program. Zeldin’s Twitter feed offers perpetual praise of the president, attacks on our governor, but not a word on the septic taxation issue. Long Island needs representatives who will work for us — who have our back when the federal government takes shots at us. Zeldin doesn’t fight for us. We have a chance in November to show him how wrong that is.

Perry Gershon is a national commentator on business, trade, policy and politics. A congressional candidate for New York’s 1st District, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a master’s in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Brian Kaufman has been arrested for allegedly illegally running Men's Health of Smithtown. Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney's Office

A local health practitioner is not who he pretends to be, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Brian Kaufman was arrested for allegedly running an illegal health clinic. Photo from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

D.A. Tim Sini (D) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration New York Division Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan announced Feb. 21 the arrest of Brian Michael Kaufman, 45, of Smithtown, for allegedly posing as a medical professional and illegally operating a health clinic, at which he allegedly illegally sold and injected patients with steroids.

Kaufman is charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance; three counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance; reckless endangerment; two counts of identity theft; two counts of identity theft; and unauthorized practice of a profession. The clinic, Men’s Health of Smithtown, is located at 329 E. Middle Country Road, Smithtown.

“This individual put lives in danger and posed a clear threat to public health by masquerading as a medical practitioner,” Sini said. “He did not have patients; he had victims.”

“This case is significant because it unearthed a convicted felon playing doctor who jeopardized his ‘patients’ lives,” Donovan said. “In order to safeguard our communities, law enforcement has to act fast when they see someone threatening public health and safety. In this case, Brian Kaufman’s alleged testosterone trafficking ring put people in harm’s way while committing several crimes.”

An investigation by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the DEA’s Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad revealed evidence that from as early as August 2019, Kaufman was allegedly running the medical practice despite not having a medical license.

Kaufman allegedly purported to be a medical professional and would treat patients, including injecting them with testosterone. He also allegedly instructed employees of his clinic to perform injections or other medical procedures, such as drawing blood. Upon his arrest, Kaufman is alleged to have made statements to law enforcement admitting that he was not licensed to practice any medical profession and had no training to provide medical services or provide testosterone replacement therapy.

Brian Kaufman has been arrested for allegedly illegally running Men’s Health of Smithtown. Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

The investigation revealed that Kaufman allegedly ordered testosterone, a Schedule III controlled substance, by using the information of licensed physician assistants working at his office without their permission or authority.

Pursuant to the investigation, a search warrant was executed at Men’s Health Clinic Feb. 19, which resulted in the recovery of unused syringes, blank prescription labels, and various bottled prescriptions and controlled substances in manufacturers’ containers.

The District Attorney’s Office is asking any individuals who received medical services from Kaufman or at Men’s Health of Smithtown to call the District Attorney’s Office at 631-853-8087.

Kaufman was arraigned Feb. 20 and was released with conditions of GPS monitoring, drug testing and a travel restriction that he must stay within New York State. He is due back in court on March 24.

If convicted of the top count, Kaufman faces a minimum sentence of two to four years in prison and a maximum sentence of three and one-half to seven years in prison.

Kaufman’s lawyer Jason Russo, of Bayshore, did not respond immediately for comment.

Roberta Fabiano
Food, fashion and fun to support a wonderful cause

By Melissa Arnold

Sometimes, you just need to go out and have a good time. Why not do it for a good cause?

On Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. the Ward Melville Heritage Organization will host its second annual A ‘Taste’ of Stony Brook Village … Ladies Night Out! fundraiser. The special event was created to boost WMHO’s long-standing support of breast cancer research at Stony Brook Medicine.

This year, the evening will be moved to the Three Village Inn, 150 Main St., Stony Brook to better accommodate the expected crowd, said WMHO president Gloria Rocchio. “The response was tremendous and enthusiastic last year when we had our first event at the WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center. There were almost too many people,” Rocchio joked. “The Three Village Inn will allow us to provide an even better experience.”

Mark Daniels

Nearly 25 shops and restaurants situated around the picturesque Stony Brook Village Center have signed up to participate in the event, which will include plenty of food and wine tastings, giveaways, basket raffles, a fashion show, live entertainment and much more.

The evening will also feature appearances from special guests. 

Radio personality Mark Daniels, most recently heard on the air at WALK 97.5, will serve as Master of Ceremonies. “WMHO has always done such a wonderful job working for their community,” said the East Setauket resident, who has worked many of their past fundraising events. “It’s an honor for me to be a part of this event, and it’s personally fulfilling to see everyone come together for a great cause.”

Renowned singer and guitarist Roberta Fabiano will also make an appearance. An alumna of Berklee College of Music and self-proclaimed child of rock and roll, Fabiano has appeared on numerous television shows and performed for high-profile audiences, among them five U.S. presidents and the queen of England. 

“I really enjoy doing performances for charity — in the past I’ve played for the Red Cross and the American Heart Association, and I play regularly now at the Long Island State Veterans Home,” said Fabiano, who lives in Stony Brook. “I was there last year when Gloria Rocchio presented the check to Stony Brook for breast cancer research, and I’m so proud to call this community my home.” 

Fabiano can’t say yet what she’ll be playing for the event because she plans her sets intuitively, relying on a crowd’s energy and feedback, but she’s known for playing everything from Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra to Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and even Lady Gaga.

WMHO’s commitment to supporting the search for a cure began with Long Island native and mother of seven Carol Martineau Baldwin, whose sons include actors Alec, Stephen, Billy and Daniel Baldwin.

According to Stony Brook Medicine, Carol lost her husband to lung cancer in 1983. A few years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. While she now lives in Syracuse, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center at Stony Brook Medicine is named in her honor.

“Carol approached us 26 years ago with the hope of starting a charity run to benefit breast cancer research,” Rocchio said. “We’ve had one every year since, and have raised $1.5 million for the cause.”

By using these funds as seed money, Stony Brook has received more than $8 million in additional grant money, Rocchio added.

“Each year we get together with the head of the cancer center and meet the researchers who have benefited from our work to hear what they’ve been able to do,” she said. “We are truly making strides and it’s gratifying to be a part of that effort. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a cure for breast cancer came from Stony Brook?”

Participating shops and restaurants include Chico’s, Madison’s Niche, Mint, Blue Salon and Spa, Wiggs Opticians, Village Florist & Events, Roseland School of Dance, The Crushed Olive, Chocolate Works, Village Coffee Market, Premiere Pastry, The Country House, Crazy Beans, Mirabelle at Three Village Inn, Pentimento, Sweet Mamas, Ariti Kaziris Designs, Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook, Watersedge Dental, Stony Brook Harbor Kayak & Paddleboard Rentals and the WMHO Heritage Gift Shop. 

Admission for the evening is $35 per person. Reservations are required and can be made via PayPal at www.stonybrookvillage.com/tsbv/ or by calling 631-689-5888. 

Special thanks to all who attended TBR News Media’s Readers’ Choice reception! Favorite local businesses were nominated by our readers and the first place winners were celebrated in style at the Three Village Inn with a red carpet, music, food, raffles and an award ceremony on Feb. 5. A wonderful time was had by all!

Photos by Beverly C. Tyler

Photo by J. Marcus

Resurrection Byzantine Catholic Church, located at the corner of Edgewater and Mayflower avenues in Smithtown, invites the community to take part in its 10th annual Pysanky egg decorating class on March 22 and 29 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

The two-day workshop, which will take place in the church’s Social Hall, is open to all levels of experience. Learn and complete your first egg, discover new patterns and tips or show your skills and enjoy the company. Bring your dyes and tools or start fresh with a new kit, available for an additional fee. Each participant must bring a candle in a holder, pencils and a roll of paper towels.

The two-day class fee is $20. Advance registration is required by calling Joanne at 631-332-1449 or email joanne.pysanky@gmail.com. Deadline to register is Feb. 23.

Robert Cushman Murphy Jr. High School (team one), from left, coach Jillian Visser, Jayden Chandool, Michael Melikyan, Michaelangelo Scialabba, Rithik Sogal, Kevin Shi and coach Emily Chernakof

On Thursday, Jan. 30 and Friday, Jan. 31, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory held two back-to-back installments of the Long Island Science Bowl, a regional branch of DOE’s 30th annual National Science Bowl®. In this fast-paced question-and-answer showdown, teams of students from across Long Island were tested on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy and math.

On Thursday, Team One of Great Neck South Middle School garnered first place in the middle school competition, earning their school three years of consecutive wins. Team Three of Great Neck Middle School captured second place; Robert Cushman Murphy Jr. High School (team one) of Stony Brook won third place; and Commack Middle School (team one) placed fourth.

On Friday, top honors went to Great Neck South High School, who competed against 19 other teams in the high school competition. High school runners-up included Wheatley School in Old Westbury (second place); Ward Melville High School in E. Setauket (third place); and Comsewogue High School in Port Jefferson Station (fourth place). 

As first place winners, Great Neck South Middle School (team one) and Great Neck South High School have won all-expenses-paid trips to the National Finals near Washington, D.C., which will begin on April 30. They’ll be joined by the winners of all 112 regional competitions held across the country.

“The National Science Bowl® continues to be one of the premier academic competitions across the country, preparing America’s next-generation for future success in the ever-expanding fields of science, technology, and engineering,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “The Department of Energy is committed to fostering opportunities for our nation’s students, and we congratulate Great Neck South in advancing to the National Finals, where they will continue to showcase their talents as the top minds in math and science.”

All participating students received a Science Bowl T-shirt and winning teams also received trophies and medals, and the top four high school teams received cash awards. Prizes were courtesy of Teachers Federal Credit Union and Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA), the event’s sponsors. BSA is the company that manages and operates Brookhaven Lab for DOE.

For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science. 

By Heidi Sutton

In perfect timing with winter break, DreamWork’s “Shrek Jr.” along with all its fairy-tale creatures have taken up residence at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts in Smithtown. The fun musical runs through March 1. 

Based on the popular 2001 animated film and picture book by William Steig, the show is an edited version of the Tony award-winning Broadway musical but still features many of the beloved scenes and songs we have come to love. 

With book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori, it tells the story of how a “little ogre came to live in the swamp with a beautiful princess and his best friend, and a gingerbread man, and a very handsome puppet, and an elf, and a fairy godmother, and a witch, and a crossdressin’ wolf and three pigs!” In short, if you are a fan of classic fairy tales, you’ll love this show.

It’s Shrek’s 7th birthday and, as with all ogres, his parents tell him he must move out and find his own place to live. (“Watch out for men with pitchforks!”) Shrek settles into a swamp far, far away and life is good until all of the fairy-tale creatures in the kingdom of Duloc are exiled to his land by order of Lord Farquaad, the ruthless ruler of Duloc.

In order to get his land back, Shrek strikes a deal with Farquaad to rescue Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon and bring her back to be Farquaad’s queen. Along with the wisecracking Donkey, the ogre embarks on a journey to save the fair maiden and learns valuable lessons, including what makes us special is what makes us strong.

Directed and choreographed by Tommy Ranieri, the talented young cast of 23 embraces this 2½-hour large-scale production and leaves us wanting more. Lead actors Hunter Pszybylski, Leah Kelly and Luke Ferrari shine in their roles as Shrek, Fiona and Donkey; and Luke Hampson steals the show as the tiny terror Lord Farquaad. 

As with all musicals, the songs are the heart of the show, and what wonderful songs they are from the opening group number, “Big Bright Beautiful World”; to Pszybyiski’s beautiful solo “Who I’d Be”; Kelly’s “Morning Person” complete with tap and Irish step dancing; to the finale “This Is Our Story”; and a rousing rendition of Smash Mouth’s “I’m a Believer” to send us on our way.

The multiple costumes of fairy-tale characters, designed by Chakira Doherty, cut no corners and wait until you see the dragon! The elaborate sets by Tim Golebiewski, makeup and special effects tie the entire production together nicely.

SPAC has presented a wonderful opportunity for young adults to hone their craft. This is their story — let them share it with you. Meet Shrek, Fiona and Donkey in the lobby after the show for photos and autographs.

Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown presents “Shrek The Musical Jr.” through March 1. Performances are held on Saturdays and Sundays at various times and Feb. 17 to 21 at 1 p.m. for Presidents Week break. Children’s theater continues with “Moana Jr.” from April 10 to 19. All seats are $18. For further information or to order tickets, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

For more photos from the show, visit www.tbrnewsmedia.com.

Photos by Courtney Braun/ SPAC

From left, Presiding Officer Robert Calarco, Suffolk County Council VFW Commander Dave Rogers, Dori Scofield, Legislator Sarah Anker, VFW Post 6431 Commander Sabrina Lacy, Legislator Susan Berland, Cathie Norton Doherty and Ina Casali announce the new Suffolk veterans resource guide. Photo from Anker's office

Long Island has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the country, with Suffolk County as its heart, and with so many vets resources spread throughout the Island, Suffolk has looked to create a comprehensive guide to help navigate the breadth of supportive services.

County legislators, along with veterans and support groups, unveiled the new Suffolk County Veterans Resource Guide Feb. 11 that they say will make it easier for veterans and their families to search for available benefits and opportunities that may otherwise be missed. The Veterans Resource Guide is an informational book that supplies contact information to military veterans and their caregivers.

The guide was created as a result of legislation that Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) introduced last year.

“We have an obligation to ensure that our veterans have quick and reliable access to the services on a moment’s notice, and that is what this resource guide accomplishes,” said Anker. 

Suffolk County Veterans Services Agency already has a wealth of resources, including benefit programs with information on disability compensation, pension, education, vocational rehabilitation, home loan guarantee, life insurance, legal assistance and state benefits that offer Vietnam veterans tuition, Persian Gulf veterans tuition and veterans tax exemptions.

The guide offers contacts for food assistance opportunities, health service, emotional services such as the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support group and even the number for every town tax assessor.

In addition, the county provides assistance with filing claims for benefits from federal and state agencies, filing DD-214 (discharge papers and separation papers) and in-home visits to assist the housebound veterans with claims.

“This is a very important program, so many veterans get out and don’t know where to go — not just for benefits or county programs, but also for unique programs that offer help to women veterans, LGBTQ Veterans, and those with special needs,” said Dave Rogers, Commander of the Suffolk County Council VFW.

The guide is available online as well as printed. People looking for the guide can contact Suffolk County Veterans Services Agency by calling 631-853-VETS (8387) or going to www.suffolkcountyny.gov/veterans for Suffolk County veterans services.

For online access to the Veterans Resource Guide go to www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Portals/4/docs/SuffolkCountyVetGuide.pdf.