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Parking meters in Northport have been covered to provide free parking in Northport during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parking meter fees have also been waived in Huntington Village. Photo by Bruce Adams

Huntington officials have made some adjustments during the coronavirus pandemic.

Parking meter fees in Huntington village are being waived until further notice to assist the restaurant and business communities. The town will continue enforcement of handicap, fire zone and other safety-related parking violations that interfere with traffic patterns or line of sight.

Huntington Town Hall is closed to the public, and this week’s planning and zoning boarding meetings have been postponed, along with traffic court.

Residents are asked to use the white mailbox outside the main parking lot entrance to Town Hall labeled “Town Hall Mail Only” to drop off mail or paperwork. There is a black mailbox to the right of the main entrance to Town Hall labeled “Tax Payments Only” to drop off tax payments. 

All playgrounds and bathrooms at town parks and beaches are closed until further notice. Parks remain open but all permits for play on town fields are canceled through March 31. Crab Meadow Golf Course and Dix Hills Golf Course are closed until further notice. The town will reevaluate March 27.

The town Senior Center’s Home Delivered Meal Delivery program will change starting Tuesday, March 24. The last day for single hot and frozen meal delivery was Monday, March 23.  Starting March 24, five frozen meals will be delivered on Tuesdays only, and the Senior Center has stopped taking new signups for the program. 

The Senior Center’s Congregate Frozen Meal pickup program will change starting Tuesday, March 24. Five frozen meals will be available for collection at the Senior Center on Tuesdays only for registered seniors between 12:30 and 2:00 p.m. Employees will bring the frozen meals outside. There will be a car lineup for registered seniors to be checked in. 

All Huntington schools remain closed.

Northport

Parking meters in Northport have also been covered to provide free parking.

Town Hall is closed with only essential staff on-site. Much village paperwork can be found and completed online at www.northportny.gov.

The Northport-East Northport Public Library will remain closed until further notice. All late fees are suspended. Residents can return items using the outside book and media returns drop box. 

All Northport-East Northport schools are closed until further notice.

District Attorney Tim Sini (D). File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Several individuals from all over Long Island, including Selden, St. James and Northport, have been implicated in multiple labor crime violations.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) joined Suffolk police along with multiple New York State officials from the labor and insurance departments to announce their arrest.

Sini said, collectively, the charged crimes involve the theft of more than $250,000 in employees’ wages and benefits, nonpayment of more than $58,000 to the state Department of Labor for unemployment insurance fund contributions and nonpayment of more than $133,000 to the New York State Insurance Fund for workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

Paul Gilistro, 58, of Selden, and his company Goldstar Installation Services Inc. are each charged with a scheme to defraud in the first degree and willful failure to file a true certified payroll.

From 2016 to 2019, the defendants, formerly doing business as The Floor Worx of Long Island, allegedly misclassified 12 employees as independent contractors to avoid paying the statutory prevailing wage on public works jobs performed throughout Suffolk and Nassau counties. The DA said, during that time period, Gilistro allegedly regularly falsified the sworn certified payroll records he submitted to reflect the job classifications and wages the employees should have received.

“Here in Suffolk County, we will not tolerate the exploitation of workers or our taxpayers by greedy corporations and business owners,” Sini said. “Not only will our efforts protect workers and taxpayers, they will also prevent these bad businesses from gaining an unfair competitive advantage against legitimate, law-abiding businesses.”

Alan James, 70, of St. James, and his company APJ Restoration Inc. were each charged with fraudulent practices against the state insurance fund in violation of New York State workers’ compensation law.

An audit by the NYSIF revealed evidence that between August 2017 and August 2018 the defendants allegedly failed to report more than $450,000 in revenue to the NYSIF in order to avoid paying $68,613.69 in policy premiums that would have otherwise been assessed.

Richard Hall, 57, of Northport, and his company Regal Contracting Inc. were each charged with a scheme to defraud and willful failure to pay prevailing wages in an amount less than $25,000, a misdemeanor in violation of state DOL law. In addition, Hall and Triangle Enterprises of Long Island Inc. are each charged with fraudulent practices against the NYSIF in violation of New York State workers’ compensation law.

In the summer of 2018, Hall and Regal Contracting Inc. allegedly failed to pay $7,400 in benefits to the Laborers Local 66 Benefit Fund for multiple workers on five different projects. In December 2018, Regal canceled its state insurance fund policy. Hall then incorporated Triangle Enterprises of Long Island Inc. and allegedly fraudulently omitted his ownership of the company on its application for workers’ compensation insurance. Regal Contracting allegedly owes more than $28,000 in unpaid unemployment insurance fund contributions to the DOL and allegedly owes more than $48,000 in unpaid workers’ compensation premiums to the insurance fund, therefore making Hall ineligible to take out a new policy.

Napper Tandy’s in Northport hosted its annual St. Baldrick’s Day event March 7 where participants shave their heads to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Barbers from various locations, as well as those provided by Eastern Suffolk BOCES teacher Luke Mahoney, were on hand to do the shaving. The day also included Irish step dancing by the Mulvihill-Lynch Studio of Irish Dance, raffles and entertainment by Redmax Events. In addition, more than 100 knit hats were donated by knitters from St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church in East Northport. The event drew people from all over.

Bob Nolan, who lives in Croton-on-Hudson, said it was his fifth year shaving his head, adding he feels every little thing helps.

Gary Norman, of Long Island City, has been shaving his head for 15 years. He said he was in the hospital with his own battle against cancer, and when he saw the children, it broke his heart.

Northport’s Betty Reidenbach has been shaving her head for 15 years after a friend introduced her to the event, and she said she knows children who have been affected by cancer. 

Tommy McEneny, who lives in Northport and will turn 4 years old on St. Patrick’s Day, said he shaved his head to help other children.

Lynn Kenny, lead event organizer, said there were approximately 96 shavees and at press time the event had raised more than $100,000 with donations still coming in and being counted. She said Northport High School held an event the night before where they had 99 shavees. At press time, the high school event was up to $70,000. She said it was the first time the school held a St. Baldrick’s event.

“I’m so proud of our town and their continued commitment to help us in the fight again childhood cancer,” Kenny said. “In the years that Northport has held St Baldrick’s events, we have raised $6 million. Northport really is a small town with a huge heart.”

Additional reporting by Lina Weingarten

The Northport Tigers hit the ground running against Westhampton for the overall Section XI title game. The team was leading from the start to finish, beating the Hurricanes 72-45 March 5 at Ward Melville High School.

Senior Danielle Pavinelli led the way for the Tigers with three triples, four from the floor and a pair of free throws for a team high 19 points. Kerry Dennin, a senior, followed with 13 as did sophomore Sophia Yearwood. Teammate Sophia Bica netted 11 and senior Kelly McLaughlin banked 10.

Northport retakes the court for the Class AA Long Island championship round to take on the Nassau County champion at St. Joseph’s College March 15. Tickets are $10.00 at the door or $8.00 on line here: https://gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI

Game time is 4:00pm.

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Stacey Wohl, center, with her daughter at her shop Be(Cause) Lifestyle Boutique in Wading River. Photo from Wohl

By Leah Chiappino

Local entrepreneur Stacey Wohl has moved her store, Be(Cause) Lifestyle Boutique, which first opened Nov. 22, from its original East Northport location to Wading River Square. Despite the change in location, it still has the same mission, to give people with disabilities a chance at employment.

In 2015, Wohl opened Cause Cafe in Northport, a restaurant that employed people on the autism spectrum, with the help of her parents, Susan and Gerald Schultz. Her interest in doing so was taken from her own two children, Brittney, 22, and Logan, 20, both of whom have autism.

Wohl says the business struggled because of the lack of a nonprofit being able to subsidize the rent. Her children were unable to work in the kitchen as the environment could get chaotic, and it grew very loud. 

“When you own a business, you have to do everything, and I am not a chef,” Wohl said. “It was a very large undertaking that we weren’t prepared for.”

Despite putting her best efforts into it, Wohl was forced to shut down the restaurant when it was not able to sustain itself and personal tragedy struck. In 2016, Cause Cafe was featured on the Rachel Ray Show, which sent Wohl on a cruise with her children and parents. Two days into the trip, her father had a heart attack while dancing with her mother on the ship and passed away. 

When the family returned home, Wohl closed the doors, as she felt the need to care for her mother, who was mourning the loss of a husband of 55 years.

Wohl’s first love is fashion, having been a showroom salesperson, fit model and boutique owner in her 20s, so she opened Be(Cause) Lifestyle Boutique in East Northport. However, tragedy struck again when her mother passed away three weeks later. Wohl relocated to Wading River after her daughter got accepted to a day program in Abequogue.

“I saw the need for a place like this,”
Wohl said. 

The front of the store has a coffee bar with repackaged baked goods to take home, complete with inspirational coffee mugs for sale. The back of the store is filled with apparel and gifts that mostly come from women-owned companies and charitable causes. There is local artwork for sale as well as her own coffee brand. 

“I want the store to be a place where people go to buy a gift, and not just feel like they are doing something for charity,” Wohl said. 

Recently the business has been struggling. Business boomed over Christmas, but after the holidays business slowed down. 

“I only sold one $3 dollar cup of coffee today,” Wohl said. However, she affirms the community has been very supportive. Wohl hopes that people will make the store their go-to place to grab a cup of coffee and is even looking to expand to have art classes and job training. She is also hoping to make a clothing line from her former fashion background. 

“I lost that part of myself in [dedicating myself to my children] for the past 20 years.”

The boutique is located at 6278 Building A, #2 along Route 25A in Wading River and is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 5.p.m. Online ordering is also available through the boutique’s website at www.becauseboutiquecafe.com.  

A mugshot of Charles Titone, who police said sexually abused a 6-year old and possessed child porn. Photo from SCPD

Police arrested a school bus driver early on Tuesday, Dec. 3 for alleged sexual abuse and possessing child pornography. The man drove a bus in the Northport-East Northport School District.

Police, which included the members 2nd precinct, along with computer crimes and special victims sections, said they launched an investigation into Charles Titone III, 46, following a tip from the New York State Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Police said investigators executed a search warrant at Titone’s home, located at 250 Depot Road in Huntington Station, early in the morning and arrested Titone at around 7:30 a.m. for allegedly having sexual contact with a 6-year-old and possessing child pornography on his phone. Titone is a school bus driver for Huntington Station-based Huntington Coach Corp. and drives in the Northport-East Northport school district.

Titone was charged with sexual abuse 1st degree and possessing a sexual performance by a child.

The victim was someone previously known to Titone and not a student from his bus route, police said.

Attorney information for Titone was not immediately available.

Titone is being held overnight at the second precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 4 at First District Court in Central Islip.

The investigation is continuing. Police said detectives are asking anyone with information to contact the Computer Crimes Unit at 631-852-6279 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

Aventura in Commack was cited by feds for allegedly giving Chinese-made technology to the U.S. Govt. Photos from U.S. Attorney’s Office

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is charging a Commack company, Aventura Technologies Inc., and seven current and former employees with allegedly selling Chinese-made electronic equipment with known cybersecurity vulnerabilities to the federal government and private customers, while falsely representing the equipment as made in the United States.

Yacht seized from the owners of Commack business Aventura. Photos from U.S. Attorney’s Office

The individual defendants charged in the alleged scheme include Northport residents Jack Cabasso, Aventura’s managing director and de facto owner and operator, and his wife Frances Cabasso, purported owner and chief executive officer. The Cabassos were also charged with money laundering proceeds from the alleged schemes and fraud for falsely representing Frances Cabasso as chief executive of Aventura to gain access to government contracts set aside for women-owned small businesses. The government froze approximately $3 million in 12 financial accounts that contain proceeds from the alleged unlawful conduct and seized the Cabassos’ 70-foot luxury yacht Tranquilo, which was moored in the gated community where the Cabassos reside. 

“As alleged, the defendants falsely claimed for years that their surveillance and security equipment was manufactured on Long Island, padding their pockets with money from lucrative contracts without regard for risk to the country’s national security posed by secretly peddling made-in-China electronics with known cyber vulnerabilities,” stated U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue in a release. 

In addition to Aventura and the Cabassos, the company’s senior executives Jonathan Lasker of Port Jefferson Station, Christine Lavonne Lazarus of Shirley and Eduard Matulik of North Massapequa were charged in the complaint, along with Wayne Marino of Rocky Point, a current employee, and Alan Schwartz of Smithtown, a recently retired employee. 

If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years imprisonment on each charge of the complaint, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. No trial dates have been set, according to John Marzulli in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

The attorney for Frances Cabasso was out of town. Jack Cabasso’s attorney did not respond before press time to messages left on his answering machine.

Equipment labeled with the Aventura logo. Photos from U.S. Attorney’s Office

“With the arrests, the defendants’ brazen deceptions and fraud schemes have been exposed, and they will face serious consequences for slapping phony ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ labels on products that our armed forces and sensitive government facilities depend upon,” Donoghue said.

Case documents state that the company lied to its customers, including the U.S. military, for more than a decade. Aventura reportedly generated more than $88 million in sales revenue from November 2010 and the charged scheme has allegedly been ongoing since 2006. 

“Greed is at the heart of this scheme, a reprehensible motive when the subjects in this case allegedly put into question the security of men and women who don uniforms each day to protect our nation,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney Jr. 

The money laundering scheme allegedly entailed siphoning illegal profits out of the company through a network of shell companies and intermediaries, including transferring hundreds of thousands, and in some cases, millions of dollars into an attorney escrow account belonging to an unnamed Long Island-based law firm, where the funds were used to purchase homes, in some cases for relatives. 

The FBI has established an email hotline for potential victims. Anyone with information regarding Aventura’s alleged crimes or anyone who believes they have been a victim can send an email to [email protected] 

County officials and environmental activists look at designs for new water system at the Vanderbilt Museum.

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum has installed two innovative systems for processing wastewater that significantly reduce the harmful impact of nitrogen pollution in the Northport Bay. The new technology builds on the county’s efforts to address excess nitrogen from wastewater leaching into local waters, which once the epicenter of the region’s red tide. 

New water system at the Vanderbilt museum.

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and county Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) announced the installations at an Oct. 30 press event at the museum. 

“The science is clear and the solution has been established,” Bellone said. 

He noted that it is necessary to replace outdated technologies that do not reduce nitrogen pollution with new technologies that do.

“We have a $6.1 billion tourism economy that is underpinned by water,” Bellone added. “With strong support from academia, business leaders and the environmental community, our region is no longer kicking the can down the road, but is taking aggressive action to reverse the water quality crisis to better protect our waterways for future generations.”

More than 115,000 people visit the park each year and the upgrade will benefit local waterways by reducing nitrogen discharge at the site by approximately 164 pounds annually. 

To date, the county has installed advanced wastewater treatment systems at Lake Ronkonkoma and Meschutt Beach, and is currently in the process of installing 13 additional systems at other parks. 

The major contributor to water quality issues, Spencer said, is nitrogen discharges from more than 360,000 antiquated cesspools in Suffolk. 

“I am so pleased to see this technology brought to our county parks, specifically the Vanderbilt Museum, which sits directly beside a water body that we have worked so hard to restore,” Spencer added. He said upgrades to Northport’s sewage treatment plant resulted in a massive reduction in nitrogen discharge, and produced tangible benefits including the absence of red tide and the reopening of a permanently closed Centerport beach.

The investment at Vanderbilt is expected to progress, improve and protect the region’s natural resources, Spencer added. 

Officials also announced at the press event that during the month of October alone, more than 100 residents have applied for grants through the county’s septic improvement program, and that next year the county plans to install 1,200 nitrogen-reducing wastewater treatment systems, doubling the amount currently installed. 

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, applauded the progress and collaborative efforts of everyone involved. 

“This is what change looks like, one installation at a time,” she said. “Good science, good advocacy and good elected officials give us good policy, and fortunately that’s what we have seen on the water quality issue in Suffolk County.”  

The installation of the new systems is part of the county’s Reclaim Our Water initiative, which seeks to reduce nitrogen pollution of surface and groundwaters. 

Homeowners outside of a sewer district are encouraged to apply for grant funding and low interest loans to assist in paying to upgrade to an innovative system. Visit www.reclaimourwater.info to find out more.

Indian Hills Country Club. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

More than 60 residents voiced their opinions on the proposed Preserve at Indian Hills development in Fort Salonga at a Town of Huntington Planning Board public hearing Sept. 18 to discuss the draft environmental impact statement on the project. Critics pointed to environmental concerns and negative effects on property values, while supporters viewed the project as beneficial to the community.   

Tony Izzo of Fort Salonga, said the development would have lasting negative impacts on the community. 

“Mr. [Jim] Tsunis [of The Northwind Group] wants to increase the size of the clubhouse by 30 percent and staff by 40 percent to accommodate a large catering restaurant,” he said. “The condos would be incompatible with the character of the neighborhood, it would double the size of the neighborhood.”

Izzo said he bought his house with his wife in 1987 with the assurance that the zoning would be R-40, which allows for the building of 1-acre single family homes. 

“We expected to be living in suburbia, instead we are told to accept a certain lifestyle — I’m not going to accept that,” he said. “These condos will negatively affect property values. Protect the citizens of Fort Salonga, not the builder. This must be rejected.”

“We expected to be living in suburbia.”

—Tony Izzo

The Preserve at Indian Hills would be a 55-and-over clustered housing development. In addition to the 98 town houses, the project also would include a new fitness center with an expanded clubhouse alongside the existing golf course.  

William Berg of the Crab Meadow Watershed Advisory Committee brought up concerns about the impact the development could have on the watershed quality and surrounding wetlands. 

“This study [the Crab Meadow Watershed plan] has not been completed or adopted by the Town Board,” he said. “Under land use the report states that the watershed is built out of its own density. I urge the Planning Board to call for the completion of the Crab Meadow Watershed study and thorough analysis of the information before making any conclusions on the project.”

Similarly, the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes the Indian Hills property. While most of the speakers opposed the development, a few residents were in favor of the project. William Muller, who is a member of the Indian Hills Country Club, said he was supportive of the Northwind project and pointed to the need for more senior living.  

“I have the belief that this plan will have less of an impact to the local community than the single-family alternative,” he said. “There is always a need for the 55-and-older community and this would provide a wonderful setting for that population.”

Other supporters mentioned the tax revenue school districts would be poised to receive from potential development and said the golf course and condos should be considered assets for the community.   

Barbara Duffy of Northport, had similar sentiments, stating she was supportive of the building of town houses. 

“Having lived near the 17th fairway for 40 years, I find it very exciting to see the possibility of protecting the golf course and making good use of the available open space,” she said. “As you all know condominiums are a dire need for the 55-and-over community.”

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said in an interview that he thought the hearing went well and hopes the Planning Board will listen to their concerns. 

“This development has been overwhelmingly opposed by residents,” Hayes said. “We continue to challenge them on the density issues … being too close to residents homes. There are still problematic environmental issues that were not really tackled by the developers [in the study].”

The town will be accepting public comments through Oct. 18 either online or letters can be mailed to Huntington Town Hall, Department of Planning & Environment (Room 212), 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

Following public comments, the next steps for the development would be a final environmental impact statement and a possible preliminary subdivision hearing that has yet to be scheduled. 

Josephine Gruposso recently competed in a New York State bagging championship. Here she stands at the Northport Stop & Shop. Photo by Kyle Barr

What goes into bagging items in the grocery store?

It’s not a thought held by the hundreds who check out their groceries in local supermarkets every hour of every day. For Josephine Gruposso of Port Jefferson Station, it is a matter of deftness, intelligence and speed.

Josephine Gruposso recently competed in a New York State bagging championship. Here she stands at the Northport Stop & Shop. Photo by Kyle Barr

“I think it’s fun — some people might think it’s silly,” Gruposso said. “But when you work in a supermarket, with silly little things like this, I feel like bagging makes my time go quicker. It’s an amazing way to interact with your customers, an amazing way to interact with your employees.”

Just this last weekend Gruposso, 36, traveled upstate to participate in the 2019 New York State Best Bagger Finals at the Stop & Shop in Poughkeepsie. She, along with her Poughkeepsie-based teammate Joanne Chapman, huddled over shopping bags Sept. 21 to see who could stack and fill the fastest and neatest. 

First, New York grocery stores held competitions in “heats” with multiple baggers competing against each other at a time. Each store sends two employees, and the Port Jeff Station resident was chosen for Stop & Shop.

Gruposso has been working with the supermarket chain since 2008 and has only recently started training as a customer service manager. She said she started to become interested in bagging skills when she worked the register many years ago in a store in Rhode Island. She first heard of the competition there, and though she only got to the second round in that state’s competition, she found the experience fun. 

“I made it a game — and when we got really busy, I said: Okay I’ll put my timer here and we’re going to see how fast we can bag this.” 

Gruposso said she has developed a bagging method that generally allows her to bag $20 worth of merchandise in under a minute, and a $100 order in one to two minutes. First, she separates the products, then places boxes around the sides of the bag to straighten and provide structure, then lays cans and bottles in the middle, which gives the packed bag balance and ensures the sides don’t tear. 

“I made it a game with my cashiers, so at the same time I was practicing,” she said. “I would see how fast each customer would take me.”

She competed among 16 other contestants from stores around New York, including Stop & Shop, D’Agostino Supermarket, Gristedes, Hanaford, Price Chopper, PSK Supermarket, ShopRite and Tops Market. Those who win have the chance to travel to San Diego for the National Best Bagger Champion at the National Grocers Association annual convention.

Yes, there is a national competition, and there is a cash prize of $10,000. 

The competition has gone on since 1983, when the American Paper Institute sponsored the first competition. Moving on since then, and with plastic bag laws across the state, the competition has switched to reusable bags.

The competition went well, she said, and while she didn’t win, she said she had fun watching others use different rapid bagging techniques.

“There is always next year,” added Gruposso.