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Homeless

Triple cancer survivor, veteran and volunteer firefighter seeks to give back to community

Albert Statton, above, stands in his gear as a Greenlawn firefighter. Photo from Statton

A Greenlawn volunteer firefighter, Army veteran and three-time cancer survivor has faced many battles in his life, but now he is fighting a different kind of battle.

Albert Statton, 64, created the Operation Enduring Care project at the Greenlawn Fire Department to collect food and clothing donations to help people who need immediate assistance and “offer them some type of comfort.” All of the donations collected will be given to The Salvation Army-managed homeless shelter at the Northport VA Affairs Medical Center.

Statton was drafted into the military in 1970 and served as a combat medic in Germany, Asia and across the United States. He finished his last tour of duty in the late 1990s but returned to his roots when he received treatment at the Northport VA after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. He found solace in dropping off items at the shelter on his way to chemotherapy.

“When being treated, it’s a physical and a mental battle,” Statton said in a phone interview. “I had highs and lows. I tried to make it a positive by bringing donations to shelter, so instead of going for me I was helping someone.”

He said the shelter for homeless veterans gets as many as 60 families a week that ask for assistance, especially during the holiday season.

Statton’s desire to help others is something he said he learned as a firefighter.

“You never say, ‘I was a firefighter.’ I am a firefighter and the things I have learned are ingrained in me forever.”

He said the volunteers at Greenlawn took his sick father to the hospital more than 20 times, so afterward he wanted to make a donation to the department to say thank you.

“I realized I didn’t have enough money to repay a debt like that,” Statton said. “I wanted to give back to the community the same way they did to my father.”

Statton served his community proudly until he was diagnosed with cancer.

He is impressed with the level of dedication all of the volunteers at Greenlawn bring to their work and how much they learned about the rescue system.

“So many people take the time to raise the bar on what’s available for the community,” Statton said.

He credits his cancer recovery to the members of the fire department for their inspiration and good wishes while he was sick, and their visits to his bedside at the hospital to pray with him.

One story in particular stands out in his mind: Statton, in the hospital, was once so battered by his treatment that he stopped breathing, and he found out later that at that same moment his comrades had begun a prayer group for him. He regained his ability to breathe minutes later.

“I had a very supportive network of brothers and sisters that encouraged me to persevere,” he said. “My respect and my love goes very deep for the fire department.”

Donations to support Statton’s effort to give back to local veterans can be dropped off at 23 Boulevard Ave. in Greenlawn. Statton said canned meats and vegetables are in high demand, as well as packaged undergarments and socks.

Police on hunt for three other suspects

File photo

A victim had facial injuries after being threatened with a knife early Sunday morning, during a robbery for which police said they have only arrested one of the four assailants.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, officers have arrested a homeless man in connection with the Coram crime, but are still searching for the other three suspects.

The incident began at about 12:45 a.m. on Sunday, when police said the four robbers, one of whom was armed with a knife, confronted the male victim on Middle Country Road, between Fife Drive and Erna Drive. Those suspects assaulted him, police said, and threatened him with the knife while stealing his leather coat and two diamond earrings.

The victim was treated for facial injuries at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson and has since been released, police said.

A homeless man, 25-year-old Armad Johnson, was arrested the same day and charged with first-degree robbery, but police are still looking for the other three Johnson was allegedly working with.

Attorney information for Johnson was not immediately available and he could not be reached for comment.

Anyone with information about the unknown suspects in the armed robbery is asked to contact detectives at the SCPD’s 6th Squad at 631-854-8652, or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

Francis Barrios mugshot from SCPD

Police arrested a homeless man for sexual assault on Tuesday night, after he allegedly attacked a taxi driver on a trip that started at a local hospital.

The Suffolk County Police Department said that the female cab driver picked up her passenger at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson that evening, but during the trip he assaulted her and the taxi crashed into a fence on Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai. The suspect, 34-year-old registered sex offender Francis Barrios, then sexually assaulted the driver.

Police did not release the name of the taxi company, to protect the identity of the victim.

Officers had initially responded to the crash scene when a passing motorist called 911, according to police, but the responders arrested Barrios after further investigation. He was charged with first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree attempted rape, second-degree strangulation and third-degree assault.

Attorney information for Barrios was not immediately available and he could not be reached for comment. He was held overnight and scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.

St. Louis de Montfort Roman Catholic Church in Sound Beach provides food for those in need. Photo by Giselle Barkley

A full stomach may hurt sometimes, but not around the holidays.

The holiday season is typically the busiest time of year for food pantries like those at the Sound Beach Community Church and St. Louis de Montfort Roman Catholic Church in Sound Beach. Each year the Sound Beach Civic Association sponsors one family from each church during the holidays. In light of this, Bea Ruberto, president of the Sound Beach Civic Association, said they thought their meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, was a good opportunity to discuss the churches’ work.

St. Louis de Montfort is no stranger to running a pantry. According to Jane Guido, the church’s outreach director, the facility established its pantry around 25 years ago. Around 150 families are registered for the pantry services at the church. The church saw an increase in those in need during the recession when countless businesses downsized staff and many were left without a job.

“A lot of our local families who were okay now find themselves without a job or [they’re] getting a job with less pay,” Guido said. “With the high cost of living on Long Island, it makes it very difficult to take care of the bills and the food.”

Though St. Louis de Montfort doesn’t prevent people of different faiths from using its pantry services, community members must live within the areas the church serves. This includes Sound Beach, Mount Sinai and Miller Place. While the church receives monetary donations and local organizations like schools, the fire department and the Girls and Boys Scouts donate food, Long Island Cares provides a good portion of food for both church pantries.

According to Hunger in America 2014, around 88 percent of households are food insecure within the Long Island Cares and Island Harvest area.

“It’s really sad to know that in an area that’s pretty well off, we need two pantries,” Ruberto said.

Pastor John D’Eletto of the Sound Beach Community Church said various organizations also donate food to his establishment. Members of the church also support by donating money, which goes toward buying food for the pantry. According to D’Eletto, the church’s five-year-old pantry serves 10 to 15 families weekly.

“We feel that because we’re a church, we have to go above and beyond just giving people food,” D’Eletto said. “Because we do care — we want to focus on the spiritual aspect of the people too — not just giving them physical things.”

D’Eletto’s church will also cater to residents facing additional hardships through prayer, to help them through their difficulties.

But one of the more difficult times for families to put food on the table doesn’t stop with the holidays. Ruberto said January and February are also difficult months for food pantries. According to the Sound Beach civic president, food donations slow down significantly following the holiday season.

“Yes, we’re all very generous over the holidays, but remember in February they still need food,” she said.

Guido added that pantries are an asset to the communities they serve.

“They know they have a place to go and get food … We live in a remote area [and] there’s not [many] places for people go,” Guido said. “There are soup kitchens, which are a blessing, but that’s only one day a week and one meal a day, so the pantry supplements that also.”

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The Pax Christi Hospitality Center is on Oakland Avenue in Port Jefferson. File photo

Pax Christi Hospitality Center needs help supplying guests with sanitary products.

The center, which shelters local homeless men and is under the umbrella of Port Jefferson-based nonprofit Hope House Ministries, founded by Father Francis Pizzarelli, has asked for donations of toothbrushes, small soaps and small shampoos, like the ones found in hotel rooms. The items will go to guests who visit the facility for a shower.

Pax Christi is located at 255 Oakland Ave. in Port Jefferson, near the Long Island Rail Road tracks. It is a 25-bed facility for males older than 16 that provides emergency shelter, food and social services. Call 631-928-9108 for more information.

File photo

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) and the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless are seeking the public’s help to provide more than 4,000 school supplies and backpacks to kids in need.

Drop off school supplies at Stern’s office at 1842 East Jericho Turnpike in Huntington, through August 10, anytime between Mondays and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Supplies sought include backpacks, crayons, pencils, binders, erasers, sharpeners, calculators, glue sticks, pens, colored pencils, highlighters, pocket folders, compasses, index cards, protractors, composition books and more.

For more information on how you can help, visit the coalition’s website here.

Burglar caught
A 33-year-old woman from Hauppauge was arrested in Smithtown on May 5 and charged with third-degree burglary. Police said that on April 23 at 10 a.m. she entered a vacant home on Davis Street in Hauppauge by smashing a window and damaged the interior of the structure. She was arrested at 9:35 a.m. at the 4th Precinct.

Facepalm
Police said a 29-year-old man was arrested at his home on Apple Lane in Commack on May 9 at about 6:30 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the man took six containers of Olay face cream, put them in a bag and exited the store without paying.

Cat food thief caught
A 55-year-old woman from Commack was arrested in the same town on May 7 at about 3:20 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the woman took cat food, a pillow, paper goods and soup from Walmart on Crooked Hill Road without paying. She was arrested at the location.

Cash nabber caught
Police said a 43-year-old man from Yaphank was arrested in Smithtown on May 7 and charged with two counts of grand larceny, one in the third and the other in the fourth degree. Police said the man on two separate occasions earlier this year took cash from a cash register drop box from a store on West Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown and removed it without permission.

An elaborate steal    
An unknown person entered a vacant building, broke down a sheetrock wall and entered neighboring Markar Jewelers on E. Main Street in Smithtown and stole assorted jewelry in a display case on May 8 at about 3:18 a.m.

In your face
Police said two men were involved in an altercation at Accompsett Middle School on Meadow Road in Smithtown on May 5 at about 4:25 p.m. Someone threw dirt into the complainant’s face.

Tires, rims stolen
Eight sets of tires and rims were taken from Smithhaven Dodge on Middle Country Road in Nesconset and a passenger side door window was also damaged sometime between 9 p.m. on May 7 and 7:45 a.m. on May 8.

Jeep stolen
Someone took a customer’s 2012 Jeep from the parking lot of Smithaven Chrysler on Middle County Road in Nesconset sometime between 7:45  and 11:45 a.m. on May 8.

Indian Head harassment
Police received a report of harassment from Key Food on Indian Head Road in Kings Park on May 7 at about 6:15 p.m. A male complainant said a man grabbed him by the shirt and left a red mark.

Figurines lifted
Someone stole figurines from the St. James General Store on Moriches Road around noon on May 8.

Window damaged, rims lifted
Police said someone smashed the window of Smithtown Nissan on Middle Country Road in St. James and stole rims and tires and damaged a window of a 2015 Nissan 370z sometime between 10 p.m. on May 5 and 6:45 a.m. on May 6.

Damaged window
An unknown person smashed the back window of a 2001 Volkwagon Suburban on Middle Country Road in St. James sometime between 9:30 a.m. on May 5 and 8 a.m. on May 6.

Speedy arrest
Police arrested an 18-year-old man from Stony Brook and charged him with first-degree operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs and unlawful possession of marijuana. Police said the man was driving a 2011 Subaru southbound on North Country Road and Beacon Hill Drive in Stony Brook and was pulled over for exceeding the speed limit. He was arrested on May 7 at 2:45 a.m.

Can’t get enough
Two men — one a 21-year-old from Centereach, another a 22-year-old from Coram — were arrested on May 10 at about 6:42 a.m. in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with trespass. Police said the two men were attempting to open doors of parked vehicles at a location on Pond Path in Setauket. Both were ordered to leave and later returned to the property. The Centereach man was also charged with criminal mischief — police said he punched a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado at that location.

Shopping flee
A Shirley woman was arrested on May 10 at the Walmart on Route 347 in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with petit larceny. Police said she took assorted clothing and household items, put them in a shopping cart and bags, and walked past the register without paying. She was arrested at the location at about 6 p.m. that day.

Pocketbook pocketed
Someone entered an unlocked front door of a residence on Galleon Lane in Setauket-East Setauket and took a pocketbook containing credit cards, cash and a cell phone sometime between 3:30  and 7 p.m. on May 8.

Money mystery
A Robinhood Lane resident from Setauket-East Setauket reported an incident of first-degree identity theft on May 7. Police said someone took cash from the individual’s Bank of America online account and transferred it to different accounts. The transaction occurred at 5:30 p.m. on May 6, police said.

Those darn kids
A Brandywine Drive resident in Setauket-East Setauket reported an incident of second-degree harassment on May 5 at 7 p.m. Police said an adult neighbor verbally harassed an 11-year-old.

A lot at stake
Two Willis Avenue neighbors in Port Jefferson Station got into a verbal argument on May 6 after one removed stakes in the ground that marked a proposed fence line.

Do not enter
A 21-year-old Port Jefferson man was arrested in Port Jefferson Station on May 9 after he entered a building and remained in it unlawfully. He was charged with third-degree criminal trespassing and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Hateful
A resident of Richmond Hill Road in Sound Beach reported on May 8 that an unknown person had spray-painted a swastika in the street by their home.

Bang bang
An unknown person shot somebody with a BB gun on May 5 in Rocky Point at around 2:45 p.m. According to police, the perpetrator was traveling north on Shell Drive when they fired the gun. The person who was shot was OK.

We are the Champlins
Several people were involved in a fight at a home on Champlin Street in Centereach on May 10. Police said a man went to the hospital after sustaining a head laceration that required medical attention.

Out of gas
A 35-year-old homeless man was charged with third-degree robbery after he stole money from a Middle Country Road gas station on May 8.

Shattered glass
An unknown person smashed a window with a rock at a Shamrock Lane home in Centereach on May 8 at around 8 p.m.

Failing to stop
A 39-year-old Port Jefferson man is facing numerous charges, including leaving the scene of an accident, after he crashed his 2004 Hyundai into a 2015 Jeep on May 8, causing damage. Police said the man fled the scene, which occurred by Skips Road and Route 112 in Coram.

Lost numbers
An unknown person stole a cell phone from a 2009 Chevy Malibu on Wood Road in Centereach on May 8. The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m.

Zoom
A 1994 Ford was stolen from a Centereach mechanic on May 6. According to police, the vehicle had been repaired, but when the owner went to pick it up, it wasn’t there.

Play ball
An unknown female stole both a baseball cap and a decal from Bob’s Stores in Selden on May 8, shortly before 6 p.m.

File photo

Police say two people charged with a hate crime on Monday afternoon targeted elderly people, pretending to collect donations for a church before committing burglary.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, officers from the 2nd Precinct responded to a 911 call about the suspects posing as church representatives to gain access to an elderly woman’s apartment in Paumanack Village in Greenlawn, then stealing property from her.

Police officers Frank Muoio and Todd Regan found suspects Heather Marchese, 23, and Sean DiStefano, a 24-year-old Shoreham resident, within the apartment complex and arrested them. Both were charged with second-degree burglary as a hate crime. Marchese, who is homeless, was also charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of a hypodermic instrument.

Marchese and DiStefano, who both had other unrelated charges already pending against them, including criminal possession and traffic law violations, were listed on the New York State court system’s online database as representing themselves and could not be reached for comment.

Police said an investigation — by 2nd Squad detectives and the Hate Crimes Unit — has indicated that there may be other victims, and that the suspects targeted the elderly.

Anyone who may have been a target in the scheme is asked to call the Hate Crimes Unit at 631-852-6323.