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Drug Bust

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.

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Carlos Encarnacion, Santiago Tavarez and Juan Lopez-Enriquez are charged with allegedly operating a drug ring out of a Port Jefferson Station barber shop. Photos from DA's office

Three men involved with the Man Cave Barbershop in Port Jefferson Station have been indicted for allegedly selling narcotics, including heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, which they allegedly marketed as heroin, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D).

Juan Lopez-Enriquez, 41, the barber shop’s manager, along with fellow barber Carlos Encarnacion, 33, and shop regular Santiago Tavarez, 64, allegedly used the premises of their shop to both cut and sell narcotics at approximately one kilogram a month, making approximately $50,000 a month from these drug sales, according to Sini.

“The Man Cave gave barbershop customers a choice of hair styles and a choice of drugs,” Sini (D) said at a press conference where his office unsealed the 53-count indictment of the three individuals Oct. 24. “When they should have been focusing on cutting hair, these defendants were in the back room, cutting fentanyl and cocaine.”

Starting in January, law enforcement from the District Attorney’s Heroin Task Force, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, New York bureau of the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and the Suffolk County Police Department began investigating the alleged drug ring, using physical surveillance and electronic surveillance such as wiretapping. The police forces executed search warrants Oct. 4.

A search of the barber shop premises along with the other locations affiliated with the defendants revealed a hydraulic kilo press, two scales, packaging materials, approximately 20 grams of cocaine and approximately 200 grams of powder cutting agent, which is used to dilute narcotics to make them more profitable, according to the district attorney’s office.

Islip-based Attorney Robert Macedonio, who is representing Lopez-Enriquez, did not respond to a request for comment by press time. The defense attorneys for Tavarez and Encarnacion could not be reached.

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon (D) said several deputy sheriffs worked undercover to aid in the business’ surveillance.

“Deputy Sheriffs are working in close collaboration with the District Attorney’s Heroin Task Force, and this multi-agency effort is getting more drugs off our streets and making our communities safer,” Toulon said.

A loaded semi-automatic handgun and a box containing 38 cartridges of ammunition, which allegedly belonged to Lopez-Enriquez, were also seized. The alleged dealer is also being charged with criminal possession of a firearm.

If convicted both Lopez-Enriquez and Tavarez face eight to 20 years in prison for the top count of first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. Encarnacion faces a maximum of three to 10 years with several counts of second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.

“With fatal overdoses on the rise, law enforcement remains diligent in its pursuit to arrest those criminals seeking to fill their pockets on the vulnerabilities of others,” said Angel Melendez, the special agent in charge of HSI New York.

Man Cave Barbershop has since closed its doors, though review sites like Yelp show overall positive reviews from customers.

Bail was set for Lopez-Enriquez at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond; $200,000 or $400,000 bond for Talverez; and $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond for Encarnacion. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jacob Kubetz.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota, above, said Winston Rose and his brother Uriel Rose purchased drugs from Robert Maldonado for $3.50 per bag — a full dollar cheaper than last year’s whole sale price. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Suffolk County police, alongside the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor of New York City, united to bust a heroin ring operating on Long Island, officials announced on Wednesday.

A wiretap investigation, conducted by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office and county police narcotics unit, lead to the arrests and indictment of 14 individuals involved in the ring, including alleged leaders Winston Rose, 35, of Deer Park and his brother, Uriel Rose, 31, of Bay Shore. Residents from Rocky Point, Coram and Northport were also charged.

According to District Attorney Tom Spota, between the months of April and May, Robert Maldonado, 28, of the Bronx, allegedly delivered more than 20,000 bags of heroin from the borough to the Rose brothers on Long Island. Kenny Gonzalez, of Bay Shore, also supplied the brothers with heroin for their drug operation.

“The source of the heroin that we see flowing into Suffolk is primarily coming from the City of New York and more often than not, from the Bronx,” Spota said following the arraignments on Wednesday.

The Rose brothers were indicted for operating as major traffickers, as investigators claim they sold heroin and cocaine in Suffolk communities and elsewhere from around Dec. 4, 2014 to June 4, 2015. The brothers sold around 325 to 500 bags daily for $10.

Phil Murphy, the attorney representing Winston Rose, said he did not see an issue with his client’s business when he visited. He also said his client had rental property and rented available gyms among other materials for the business.

Calls to attorneys for Uriel Rose, Maldonado and Gonzalez were not immediately returned.

Winston Rose was on parole for possession of a weapon at the time of his arrest. In addition, he has nine prior felony and misdemeanor convictions while his brother has six prior misdemeanor convictions. Four of these convictions were for drugs.

According to Spota, the brothers posed as businessmen and allegedly used an event and catering business based out of Deer Park as a front to peddle drugs.

The brothers, as well as Desiree Dietz, 33, of Rocky Point; Emily Ruiz, 24, of Deer Park; Daniel Demaio, 23, of Northport; James Lantero, 41, of Bay Shore; Edward Molewski, 47, of East Islip; Charles Hennings, 41 of Coram and Dillon Noseda, 26, of Northport were arraigned in Riverhead as well. The individuals, along with five others, have been charged with conspiracy in the second degree, a Class B felony in the state of New York.

Noseda is accused of being a major seller of heroin in the Village of Northport and the surrounding communities. Ian Fitzgerald, Noseda’s attorney, said his client denied being a major seller in the case. In a phone interview, he said his client only knew Winston Rose for about two months.

Attorney information for Dietz, Ruiz, Demaio, Lantero, Molewski, and Hennings was unavailable.

“Somebody and some day they are all going to know that they’re never going to see the light of day if they’re convicted,” Spota said.

Bail for Winston Rose was set at $3 million cash or $6 million bond, while Uriel Rose’s bail was set at $2 million cash, or $4 million bond.

If convicted as major traffickers, the Rose’s face a minimum sentence of 15 to 25 years, to a maximum life sentence, according to Spota.

Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said solving individual cases such as this case, might not “end the crisis,” but have a significant local impact.

According to Special Agent James Hunt, of the DEA, heroin related deaths have increased 172 percent from 2003 to 2013.

Spota attributes their success to the collaborative efforts of all law enforcement officials who were involved. Brennan agreed and said that collaboration will help overcome the distribution of heroin.

“We are now facing a huge heroin problem,” she said. “The only way to beat it is the way we’re doing it. Step by step case by case joining hands and not just us alone but with the collaboration of many others.”