Tags Posts tagged with "Ray Tierney"

Ray Tierney

From left, Town of Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Councilman Neil Manzella and Councilman Michael Loguercio. Photo by Raymond Janis

Brookhaven officials joined Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney (R) and drug prevention advocates outside Town Hall in Farmingville on Thursday, Aug. 31, to mark the beginning of Opioid Awareness Month.

Several of those present donned purple ribbons as officials called for more urgent intervention on behalf of government.

We “are here today to call attention to the overdose [deaths] that are permeating our county, our state and our country,” said Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), candidate for Suffolk County executive with Dave Calone (D). “We have to have better treatment facilities, we have to help out and reach out to those afflicted and those addicted, and we have to stop the flow of fentanyl into this country.”

Tierney said minimizing opioid deaths is a matter of effective prosecution. “We need to make fentanyl a bailable offense,” the county DA said. “We could only ask for bail if you possess eight ounces of fentanyl, which is about enough fentanyl to kill 114,000 people.”

Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville), a candidate for town supervisor against SUNY Old Westbury adjunct professor Lillian Clayman (D), condemned the New York State government for passing measures that, according to him, exacerbate the opioid problem.

“Our state government now tries to balance its budget on tax revenue coming from things that lead to addiction,” he said. “They’ve promulgated rules and taxes on marijuana — which is a gateway [drug] — gambling, online gambling. These also compound and lead to addiction.”

The deputy supervisor continued, “We need a shift not only in our society but our government because these are human beings.”

Drew Scott, former newscaster from News 12 who has lost a granddaughter to opioids, attended the press event, reminding policymakers and community members that “addiction is a disease” and that “one pill can kill.”

“Curiosity can kill young people,” he said. “Just one pill at a party out of curiosity has killed so many of our young people.” He also urged others to “please, join the crusade and do something about overdose awareness and fentanyl. And fight, fight, fight.”

Town Councilman Michael Loguercio (R-Ridge), who has lost two nephews to opioids, called upon the state Legislature to require insurance companies to pay for treatment.

State law “should require insurance companies to pay for treatment — not only pay for the emergency room visit when we bring them in but pay for the treatment,” the councilman said. “Please, speak to your New York State Assembly [members] and senators, and get them to legislate requirements for the insurance companies to treat these people with the treatment that they need.”

Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) recognized his Council District’s Drug Prevention Coalition. He advocated for expanding this initiative townwide.

The coalition is “a hyperlocal model of deep engagement through community organizations, local businesses, chambers of commerce, civic associations and working closely with the school districts … to raise awareness, reduce the stigma, and it’s having an impact,” he said. “These are very fine people who are working very hard today and have produced a model that can be replicated all over the town.”

Photo by Raymond Janis

Community support vital to Gilgo Beach arrest

As I am sure you have by now seen or heard that after 13 years the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office was finally able to bring an indictment against Rex Heuermann for three of the Gilgo Beach serial murders, and we expect the fourth to be resolved soon by the grand jury.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. File photo from Tierney’s office

Our work is continuing until all of the murders are fully investigated.

During my campaign, I had promised the families of these victims that I would make my best efforts to solve these cases. After taking office in January 2022, we set up a task force.

I appointed three assistant district attorneys, plus my chief ADA, my chief investigator, four detective investigators and a team of analysts to work daily in collaboration with the Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

We met weekly to review developments and strategize. Six weeks after the first task force meeting, Heuermann was identified as a suspect, and over the next 16 months, we gathered evidence using more than 300 subpoenas and search warrants until we had the evidence we needed to make an arrest.

Your support led directly to solving these serial killings.

Your support allows me to get the important work of the district attorney’s office done day in and day out. Without your support, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and this significant case would likely not have been solved.

Thank you again for your help — and expect more good things to come.

Ray Tierney (R)

Suffolk County District Attorney

Editor’s note: One is innocent until proven guilty. While it is with great relief that we seem to be moving toward justice, we are decidedly not there yet. All involved in this enormous effort are to be commended for their efforts to bring about justice, but we must wait for the final verdict before we convict in the court of public opinion.

Clarifying recent village treasurer appointment

It was disconcerting and disheartening that The Port Times Record, the official newspaper for the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson, first published incorrect information regarding what transpired at a recent Village Board of Trustees meeting, and then “corrected” that record in a way that cultivated negativity instead of noting a true positive outcome.

A majority of the board ultimately acted in concert, and voted to approve the appointment of Donald Pearce as treasurer following an executive session. While the executive session discussion is privileged, please note that I have invited the Office of the New York State Comptroller’s Division of Local Government and School Accountability to conduct a comprehensive review and audit of our villagewide operations.

This is a “gold standard” of review and accountability undertaken by many new mayors which will be objective and fair, will provide a clear path for our village to move forward properly in terms of process and procedure, and will reestablish clear-cut guidelines for the highest level of fiscal responsibility. I have undertaken this initiative to ensure that the village government is the most efficient and responsible entity that it can possibly be for the benefit of our deserving residents.

To that end, please remember that a treasurer takes an oath of office, as do members of the Board of Trustees. Our decisions are ours alone and they have a significant impact. Accountability is paramount, and I believe that our new treasurer will bring that accountability and service to the residents of Port Jefferson, which is why I am so grateful that he has agreed to return to his roots and once again serve the Village of Port Jefferson.

We look forward to a new, positive, forward-thinking relationship with our partners at The Port Times Record, to encourage free and open dialogue and the dissemination of factual information — another tangible benefit to our valued residents.

Lauren Sheprow

Mayor, Village of Port Jefferson

Sherwood-Jayne animals are part of our community and family

My name is JenniferJane Cortes and I am a Three Village resident. My husband and I along with our two young children purchased a house here eight years ago. 

My dream has been to buy a farm ever since leaving our family farm in New Jersey 20 years ago. When we were looking in the Three Village area, we happened to be driving down Old Post Road coming from Port Jefferson. I remember the day well.

We came upon a beautiful farm with sheep in the pasture. There were also goats and a pony, but my eyes were fixed on the sheep. I asked my husband to please slow down so I could just “be” with them for a moment.

As we drove by, I said to myself and then my husband that if we can’t find a small farm for ourselves, then we must find a house on this street. About a week later and many more drives past the farm, we found a house within a 2-minute walk.

“Look no further,” I said. “We have found our house near the farm and animals.”

We visit with the animals so often that they feel like they are part of our family. My children know their names and call them over. We have grown quite attached to Snowball.

This farm and the animals mean so much to our small family and also to this community. Their caretaker, Susanna [Gatz], does an amazing job caring for them and the property. It is such a joy to see someone enjoying them and caring for them on a daily basis.

To see them moved would be absolutely devastating. 

I am praying that the animals and Susanna get to remain one of the best parts of residing on Old Post Road.

JenniferJane Cortes

East Setauket

Removing Sherwood-Jayne animals is callous

In the late 1980s, my mom and I walked daily from our house on Old Post Road to Play Groups School, where I attended preschool. We always stopped to greet the animals at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm, often packing apple slices or carrots for Chester, the brown horse, who waited by the street for his morning treat from a delighted toddler.

I am currently pregnant with my first child and temporarily living back on Old Post Road, where I once again visit with the animals on my daily walk, and I am devastated that my son will not be able to stroll down the street with his grandparents to visit the “unicorn,” aka Snowball, or attend the Sheep Shearing Festival. No matter where in the world I have lived, greeting the animals at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm has been a part of my homecoming ritual and I am saddened to learn that Preservation Long Island has made the callous decision to relocate them. 

Contrary to [PLI executive director] Alexandra Wolfe’s statement in your article [“Animals to leave Sherwood-Jayne Farm,” July 27], I would argue that the animals are the only thing connecting the community with the property. The bucolic scene of grazing animals helps visitors envision the historical significance of the house and farm, which otherwise offers very little community programming. Many more passersby pause to marvel at the majestic Snowball than at the house itself. How can you have a historically significant farm without animals?

Wolfe states that liability is a concern. I am curious how frequently PLI has issues with trespassers into the pasture and how realistic that concern is. She also states that she is bothered by concerned animal lovers who call PLI because they are worried about the geriatric pony’s health. This could be fixed inexpensively by erecting an informational sign explaining Snowball’s age and ailments, perhaps including a QR Code to donate to the animal’s upkeep and care.

While Wolfe does not state this, I presume the true limiting factor in maintaining the animals, under the loving care of Susanna Gatz, is the cost. PLI should be transparent and invite the community to tackle this challenge. How much, exactly, would it cost to maintain the animals on this property for the duration of their lifespan? Plenty of animal lovers, myself included, would gladly contribute to Snowball & Friends being allowed to live their lives in a familiar and safe environment.

Lia Harper

East Setauket

Water, water, not everywhere

Now that we’re coming to our senses and starting to realize the importance of the water below us, I’d like to share my epiphany. 

A professor told me about his annual trip to Kenya. He visited a rural village that had no electricity, toilets or local source of water. The older children had the responsibility to fetch water for their families.

He accompanied the barefoot children and noticed that they walked through human feces on the way to the community well, which was but a crude pit … a few feet across and a few feet deep, with a dark puddle at the bottom.

He handed me a photo, saying, “Notice that the children are standing in the water. The very water that the family will be drinking.” I thought, although uneducated and poor, didn’t these people have the good sense to not poison their own well?

Aren’t we all born with an innate sense to not do harm to our life-sustaining water? How could the elders not instruct the children to carefully avoid stepping in it when going to the well or to somehow clean their feet before standing in the water?

Then, an afterthought: Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing to our precious gift … our aquifer? We pour insecticides and herbicides on lawns. We broadcast chemical fertilizer to make greens greener. We flush unused antibiotics down toilets. Our cesspools seep human waste down into our aquifer.

With soiled feet, we stand in our own well.

Bruce Stasiuk

Setauket

Legislatures are failing us

Congress adjourning and leaving Washington for the traditional August recess to return to their districts is actually great news.  

Our civil and economic liberties are continually at risk when any legislative body — be it the New York City Council, New York State Legislature or U.S. Congress and so on — is in session.  

Elected officials on a bipartisan basis routinely pass legislation to increase spending, taxes, borrowing and deficits. They also pass bills benefiting their “pay-for-play” contributors, funding pork-barrel member items along with new rules and regulations infringing on our day-to-day lives.  

When Congress is not working, members can’t cause mischief and grief for the rest of us. I wish they would stay home even longer.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Slow down multifamily development in Port Jeff Station/Terryville

Certain multifamily housing project proposals are progressing too fast in the hamlets of Port Jefferson Station and Terryville.

In Port Jefferson Station, starting at the intersection of Terryville Road and Main Street (aka Route 112), traveling north there are proposals to build four multifamily housing communities.

Proposal 1 will be built at the shopping center where the post office is located. Proposal 2 will be built at the old Malkmes Florists on Oakland Avenue. Proposal 3 will be built on Cherub Lane. And Proposal 4 will be built adjacent to the railroad tracks on both the east and west side of Main Street. 

As a result of these proposed multifamily housing projects, our communities have requested an environmental impact statement and a comprehensive traffic study. Both requests have either been ignored or denied by the Town of Brookhaven.

This is not an anti-development letter. It is a shoutout to our Brookhaven elected officials to slow down the process of reviewing these proposed multifamily housing projects. 

It is time to perform the necessary studies to help us better understand how these proposed projects will affect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the current and future traffic patterns in our communities.

We have a right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and feel safe in our communities without worrying about increasing traffic on our neighborhood streets. It is time to complete the necessary studies so that we can better understand how these multifamily housing projects will affect our quality of life. 

Multifamily housing is not a cure all, and there are times when such projects cause detrimental quality-of-life issues that cannot be reversed.

Please slow down and complete the necessary studies.

Louis Antoniello

Terryville

Consider eminent domain for Maryhaven

In the United States, governmental bodies, at all levels from federal to a village, have an obligation to promote, and often provide, resources for the general welfare of their population. 

In Port Jefferson vacant land is becoming a precious resource for uses that could provide and promote our general welfare. To that purpose, governments have the authority to gain ownership of land through the process of eminent domain. 

Our village government held a public hearing on May 1 regarding a code change that would specifically allow a developer of the Maryhaven property to purchase the entire property, and construct as many as 192 condominium units. Special permission to do so is contingent on the builder’s willingness to maintain the outer walls of the existing historically important building known as the Maryhaven Center of Hope.

A building that was used for generations to help many in need — young children with severe disabilities, and later to house and aid those who required group living quarters, training for minimal paying jobs and other needs for their adult lives. 

Without dishonoring the building that served those with the greatest needs for survival, it is difficult to understand how the proposed code change aimed specifically at “saving” the Maryhaven building is achieved by gutting the structure for the creation of expensive condominiums, a clubhouse and a swimming pool within, all to serve a private luxury gated community.

How does the proposed code change honor those that spent their professional lives providing for those with the greatest needs for their survival?

The future of this land is of particular importance at a time when the effects of climate change, ushering in periods of rain beyond current capacity to mitigate the potential of severe flooding, threatens our fire department and, possibly in years to come, the accessibility of our current Village Hall. 

Now is the time to plan for a new Center of Hope with uses that promote and provide for the general welfare of those who follow us. The use of eminent domain to secure that property would honor the building and its grounds in service to the public, the fire department and village government operations.

Michael Mart

Port Jefferson

Local crime exposes bail reform dangers

In an effort to champion the successes of cashless bail, letter writer David Friedman cited a study done by the Data Collaborative for Justice [“Eliminating bail reduces recidivism,” TBR News Media, April 27]. Along the way he took the opportunity to make inaccurate personal assumptions about me, while criticizing respected Albany District Attorney David Soares [D]. In a clumsy effort to paint me as insincere, Friedman applies the term “crocodile tears.”

I’ve spent over three decades working with special needs and at-risk children ranging in age from preschool to high school. Responsibilities included teaching, meeting with parents and working with multidisciplinary teams that included probation officers, child protection specialists, social workers and psychologists. We had uplifting successes and heartbreaking disappointments. Tears, whether for joy or sorrow, were genuine.

Soares, shamefully silenced by his own party for condemning cashless bail, had a different take on much of the Collaborative Justice “data.” But an area where he could agree was the study’s very own “Summary and Conclusions.” Here were highlighted the dangers of “increased recidivism for people with substantial recent criminal histories.”

That terrifying scenario became reality in Suffolk County.

On April 24, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney [R] announced the recent seizure of guns and narcotics: “Law enforcement was able to recover … approximately 268 grams of fentanyl, which could kill 134,000 people.’’

Tierney blamed bail reform laws: “Out of the 21 individuals arrested, we only got to seek bail on 11.” Consider that fact, knowing 350 of our neighbors died of fentanyl overdoses last year.

On May 11, Michael Lafauci, a six-year veteran assigned to the 6th Precinct’s Anti-Crime Unit, barely survived a gunshot wound. The alleged shooter was Janell Funderburke. Last August, he and three others were arrested after fleeing police, then crashing a 2018 BMW. Suffolk cops pulled them from that burning vehicle and, in the process, found a handgun and drugs.

Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association President Noel DiGerolamo linked Lafauci’s horrific wounding to what he considers New York’s failed bail reform law, saying this suspected gang member “should never been out on the street.” He continued, “An individual who one day is rescued by Suffolk County police officers … only … for him to attempt to kill one. This is what our leaders in Albany have created.”

Counting on those 10 enjoying a cashless bail release, as described by Tierney, after their drug bust to “reform”? Ask DiGerolamo, the two DAs and, most importantly, Officer LaFauci.

Jim Soviero

East Setauket

WRITE TO US … AND KEEP IT LOCAL

We welcome your letters, especially those responding to our local coverage, replying to other letter writers’ comments and speaking mainly to local themes. Letters should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style, good taste and uncivil language. They will also be published on our website. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include an address and phone number for confirmation.

Email letters to: [email protected]

or mail them to TBR News Media, P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733

Tillman III, the newest member of the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office. Photo by Raymond Janis

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office welcomed its newest hire, an emotional support canine named Tillman III, on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at the William J. Lindsay County Complex in Hauppauge.

Tillman with Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. Photo by Raymond Janis

Tillman is a 2-year-old Lab/golden retriever mix, bred and trained as a facility dog by Medford-based Canine Companions. Assistant District Attorney Melissa Grier, of the Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Bureau, paired with Tillman, who will assist her as well as victims, witnesses and officers during traumatic events.

“This is a tough system for victims, especially child victims,” District Attorney Ray Tierney (R) said. Tillman is “very comforting, and it’s just a good opportunity to help the kids with a very recognizable and lovable thing in a very unrecognizable and tough situation.”

Together, Tierney and Tillman strolled through the various rooms and hallways throughout the office building, the staff greeting their newest colleague with delight.

Hundreds of courageous community members plunged into the icy waters of Cedar Beach on Saturday, Nov. 19, during this year’s rendition of the Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge.

The Town of Brookhaven puts this annual event together to raise money for the Special Olympics New York organization. Proceeds from the event support training for athletes, equipment, health supplies and attire. 

Saturday’s event has raised over $128,000, according to the nonprofit’s website which proclaims that it “provides inclusive opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to discover and unleash the champion within.” 

Hundreds of plungers from across the region participated in the plunge, with many more spectating warmly from afar. Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), a perennial “plunger,” made the daring plunge again.

In an interview with Bonner, she was asked what motivates her to take the cold water dip year after year. Her response, jokingly: “We ask ourselves that every year,” she said.

Bonner, who took the plunge this year with Special Olympians Daniel and Joey, said she finds renewed joy and optimism through her involvement in the activities. 

“When you meet all those Special Olympians and interview them … it’s impossible not to get caught up in the adrenaline and momentum of supporting them and other athletes,” she said. “It’s about $400 to $500 per athlete per sport, and no family is ever charged,” adding, “These plunges … help out so many athletes and families.”

Plunging with Bonner was Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney (R). Before making his plunge, the district attorney expressed some apprehensions, joking, “Unlike Jane and the rest, I am a coward so I’m trying to figure out what brought me to this stage.”

Despite his self-professed reluctance, Tierney did take the plunge. Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), on the other hand, also made an appearance though avoiding the frigid waters. 

During a speech, the town supervisor described the plunge as a meaningful sacrifice in serving the greater good. “At the end of the day, you may be a little cold, but this world is going to be a lot happier for what the people are going to do plunging today,” he said.

This year’s polar plunge brought together hundreds of athletes, students and community members who suffered in unity. Bonner said an event such as this makes the community a better place.

“Regardless of political affiliation, color, economic status — there’s no barrier,” the town councilwoman said. “We’re all doing this same thing for the same cause, and it’s hard not to feel good about it at the end of the day.”

— Photos by Raymond Janis 

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Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. Photo from Tierney's office
Defendant Noah Green faces multiple counts of criminal possession of a weapon, criminal mischief, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and resisting arrest

Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney announced today the Grand Jury Indictment of Noah Green, that formally accuses him of two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, one count of Criminal Possession of a Firearm, as well as counts of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and Resisting Arrest.

“In Suffolk County, we investigate every time that a gun is illegally fired, and we pursue charges on those perpetrating violence in our community,” said DA Tierney. “Here, thanks to the amazing work of the investigators from my office and Suffolk County Police Department detectives, the gun used in the shooting in front of Congressman Zeldin’s house was allegedly recovered from the pocket of this defendant. Moreover, the Suffolk County Crime lab was able to link this gun to a bullet from the shooting near Congressman Zeldin’s residence, as well as shell casings located in the stolen car believed to have been used in the shooting. This indictment should send a message that in Suffolk County we will not tolerate violence. The investigation in this case is not over.”

On October 31, members of law enforcement were conducting surveillance pursuant to the ongoing investigation into the October 9,  non-fatal shooting outside the residence of United States Congressman Lee Zeldin. At approximately 1 p.m., members of law enforcement allegedly observed Green, 18, exiting his residence in Shirley and enter the driver’s seat of a stolen black 2022 HondaCRV.

At that time, members of law enforcement approached the defendant who immediately exited the stolen vehicle and attempted to evade apprehension by jumping onto the hood and roof of a law enforcement vehicle. In his efforts to flee, Green caused damage to both the hood and roof of that vehicle. The defendant continuously refused to comply with the officers’ commands and began reaching for his pants pocket where the loaded Taurus 9 mm pistol was ultimately recovered.

The gun was found to contain a loaded, high-capacity magazine. A microscopic analysis of the gun allegedly recovered from the defendant’s pocket showed that the firearm was used in the non- fatal shooting that occurred in front of the Zeldin residence on October 9. Additionally, two 9 mm shell casings were recovered from the cowl (i.e., the space between the hood and the windshield) of the stolen car, believed to have been used in the October 9 shooting. The October 9 shooting is still under active investigation and defendant Green is not charged with that crime at this time.

As part of the investigation, members of law enforcement have observed social media accounts allegedly belonging to the defendant and observed the following picture, which depicts Green and another individual with a firearm, posted to the defendant’s Snapchat account on Friday October 28, 2022:

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In addition to the image above, other images and videos posted to this account revealed that the defendant was an occupant of a vehicle which appears consistent with the stolen Honda CRV from which he fled immediately prior to his arrest on October 31.

Green is charged with two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (a class C violent felony); Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree (a class D violent felony); Criminal Possession of a Firearm, (an E non-violent felony); Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Third Degree (a class A misdemeanor), Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree (a class A misdemeanor) and Resisting Arrest (a class A misdemeanor). If convicted as charged, Green can be sentenced to a determinate period of incarceration of between three and one half (3 1⁄2) years imprisonment and 15 years imprisonment.

At his arraignment on the indictment this morning, the Honorable Karen M. Wilutis ordered Green held on $1 million cash, $2 million bond or $10 million partially secured bond.

Criminal complaints and indictments are merely accusatory instruments. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. No one is above the law.

State Assemblyman Steve Stern at Friday's press conference with county DA Ray Tierney and the family members of murder victim Luis Cameron Rimmer-Hernandez. Photo from Stern's office

With the help of a local assemblyman, a high-tech tool used to fight crime is returning to Huntington Station.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney (R) and state Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Dix HIlls) held a press conference at the DA’s office on July 8 to announce that Suffolk County Police Department’s 2nd Precinct will once again be utilizing ShotSpotter. The system detects where a gun is fired and then relays the information to local law enforcement.

It will be relaunched in Huntington Station, which was chosen due to a spike in gun violence in that community.

The DA’s office will receive a $250,000 county grant for the system. Tierney appeared before the Suffolk County Legislature to request funding for a countywide program in June to which Stern immediately responded.

“The money that Assemblyman Stern has given us will save lives,” Tierney said. “ShotSpotter will prevent shootings, because criminals will know that the police will be there in near minutes. Quick response by police will also allow police to quickly render aid to any victims.”

He added the technology will help the DA’s office to start its investigations earlier. Tierney said that while it’s not “a cure-all,” ShotSpotter is a tool in an overall approach.

As part of a $1 million public safety package, Stern also secured $500,000 for the DA’s office to enhance and update electronic surveillance equipment; $250,000 for the SCPD to purchase mobile plate readers; and $10,000 for Tierney’s office from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant. The latter funds can be used at the DA’s discretion for law enforcement, prosecution and crime prevention matters.

Stern thanked community members for their input, including Erica Rimmer who lost her son Luis Cameron Rimmer-Hernandez last summer when he was shot and killed. Rimmer and her family were in attendance at Friday’s press conference.

“I will always be the first to say that the best ideas always come from my neighbors, and that’s what makes today so important,” the assemblyman said. “This is an effort, really from all of us, particularly our district attorney, who has made it his business — and that of his outstanding staff — to go out to the community and learn from residents what’s important to them.”

He added Suffolk County residents value quality of life and public safety. 

“That means that we must always have the most-qualified local law enforcement,” Stern said. “We must always have the very best trained public-safety officials. That also means that it’s imperative to have the most advanced and cutting-edge technology, which is such an important part of fighting crime today and going forward into the future.”

The county eliminated funding for ShotSpotter in 2018. At the time, it was deemed ineffective; however, technology has advanced significantly, according to Tierney. The DA added that the system now uses an app, where the ShotSpotter notification will go straight to a squad card instead of a call going to a dispatcher. The police officers will be given a map with directions, number of shots, location, and the system can provide the elevation of shots.

Tierney said that 50% of all shootings between 2019 and 2022 occurred in 22 square miles in Suffolk spread out over nine areas in the county. In addition to Huntington Station, the communities are Wyandanch, Brentwood, Central Islip, Bay Shore, Gordon Heights, Mastic Beach, North Bellport and North Amityville and represent 10% of Suffolk. He said the hope is to extend the ShotSpotter system to every such area in the 22 square miles.

“We want to provide safety for all of the citizens in those communities,” he said.

Luxury retail stores, such as the one shown above, have been targeted by ORC rings. Photo from Pixabay.

Organized retail crime, a nationwide retail theft phenomenon, has reached Suffolk County.

Last week, four individuals from Newark, New Jersey, were arrested by the Suffolk County Police Department for their alleged involvement in an ORC ring that stole $94,000 worth of luxury handbags from a Balenciaga store in East Hampton on March 3. Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney (R) held a press conference shortly after the arrests were made, announcing that those responsible for the theft will be prosecuted.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney (R), above, addressed the recent spike of organized retail crime in the area. Photo from Tierney’s office.

“The individuals in East Hampton, they stole $94,000 worth of bags and they were going to sell that on the secondary market, and they were going to make tens of thousands of dollars in profit,” Tierney said. “The purpose of last week’s press conference was to let people know we are paying attention and we are going to address it because, ultimately, the people who bear the costs of that theft are the consumers, the citizens of Suffolk County who have to pay increased prices for everything.”

ORC refers to the coordinated shoplifting carried out by professional theft rings. According to Tierney, there are stark differences between ORC and ordinary shoplifting.

“We’re trying to separate retail theft from these organized retail theft rings,” he said. “While we’re taking all retail thefts seriously, we want to put special emphasis on the organized retail theft rings, where individuals come in and they’re en masse stealing large amounts of merchandise with the specific purpose of reselling it on the secondary market for profit.”

Gus Downing is publisher and editor of The D&D Daily, an online publication that follows retail trends and raises public awareness for these issues. According to him, ORC has proliferated in recent years due to the rise of the online resale marketplace.

“Organized retail crime has been around a long time, but the internet and third-party selling online is really what took this into the stratosphere,” he said in a phone interview. “When you look at the internet and third-party sellers, and then you tack on the opioid epidemic and the cartels flooding the United States with fentanyl, and then you tack on the surge in crime generically, you’ve got a heck of a problem that is spiraling out of control.”

Downing said that a considerable proportion of mainstream opioid users require a revenue stream to finance their habit. According to him, ORC and drugs are inextricably linked together.

“It’s really all about drugs,” he said. “That’s what drives a person into a store to steal. They have to get the money, and what’s the easiest place to get it when you have millions of people online that would love a deal?”

Tierney has not yet noticed a connection between ORC and drugs in the area. According to him, large returns appear to be motivating the spike in ORC-related incidents throughout the county.

“There’s the sector of the population that are addicted to drugs — they might have mental health issues, and in a sort of ad hoc, unorganized manner they steal things for subsistence and whatever meager money they make goes to drugs or they’re stealing for food,” he said, adding, “Those people from the organized rings, I don’t see drugs and drug addiction being a factor in that. I see it being a profit margin.”

“Those organized gangs, they prey on the most vulnerable people in our society.”

— Barbara Staib, director of development and communications at The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention

Shoplifting education

The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, based in Huntington Station, is an organization that works to curb retail-related thefts through education. According to Barbara Staib, director of development and communications at NASP, shoplifters can be separated into two categories: professional and nonprofessional.

“While not all shoplifters are involved in ORC, anybody who is involved in ORC is a shoplifter,” she said in a phone interview. “People don’t just jump right into being involved in organized gangs. They started as a shoplifter.”

According to its website, NASP offers online courses for adults and juveniles who need to complete a theft class as required by a court or probation officer. Staib suggested that programs such as these help to reduce recidivism of retail theft crimes, which in turn can deter recruitment into ORC rings.

Staib said NASP works with nonprofessional shoplifters. According to her, these individuals are often the most vulnerable to the predatory recruitment tactics of ORC ringleaders.

“Those organized gangs, they prey on the most vulnerable people in our society,” she said. “They prey on people that are homeless, people who are drug addicted, people who are perhaps in a bad place in their lives and need money.” She added, “From a societal point of view, ORC is very damaging.”

Tierney acknowledged the need to treat retail theft incidents in a case-by-case manner. He said the county offers various programs, such as Stoplift, for first-time offenders. However, he added that those who follow a pattern of criminal behavior will be held responsible for their actions.

“The people who stole the $94,000 worth of bags were not first-time offenders,” he said. “Those repeat offenders who are enriching themselves are completely different from first-time shoplifters,” adding, “Of course, we’re going to treat the first-time shoplifter a lot different than we are with those organized theft rings.”

Staib finds a silver lining through programs such as NASP that educate shoplifters. While she considers ORC a dangerous crime trend that requires strict penalties, she views shoplifting education as a way to counter the spread of ORC.

“We need to approach [shoplifting] in two different ways,” Staib said. “We need to approach ORC as a felony crime that meets harsh punishment.” Discussing ways to address nonprofessional shoplifting, she added, “Our message is that education is valuable at any point for someone who shoplifts.”

To learn more about the shoplifting education programs offered by NASP, visit the website www.shopliftingprevention.org.

Photo from Lee Zeldin's office

Suffolk County Republican lawmakers joined together last week calling on Democratic leaders in Albany to repeal the state’s cashless bail law. They argue that it has led to an uptick in violent crime.

Spearheaded by U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) — who is also the GOP’s potential nominee for governor in 2022 — he said that while on the campaign trail, he hears from people across both political parties who agree that bail reform needs to change.

“Many areas of the state that I’ve been to support repealing cashless bail,” Zeldin said during a press conference on Wednesday, Nov. 10. “They share stories about how cashless bail has eroded public safety.”

He added that the “red wave” that hit Suffolk County — including the success of newly elected Republican District Attorney Ray Tierney, could help send a message to majority Democrats to repeal the bail reform law.

“Too many New Yorkers have already witnessed the ramifications of this dangerous law first-hand, and on Election Day 2021 they made it abundantly clear that they have had enough,” Zeldin said. “This fatally flawed law undermines New York’s men and women in blue, their morale, their efforts and, most importantly, their authority. In the courtroom, it rips away judges’ judicial discretion, ties their hands and forces them to ignore prior convictions and the risk of repeat offenders. Instead of handcuffing criminals, this misguided law handcuffs justice, and every day New Yorkers are the ones paying the price.”

Tierney interjected and said that a package of newly enacted or proposed Democratic bills, including those that reform parole and would expunge many misdemeanor convictions and lower-level felonies, fail to keep the public safe.

“We are here to say these laws do not keep us safer,” Tierney said. “And we need to repeal some of these laws and start to think about the victims and the victims’ families when we consider criminal justice reform.”

He added that during the most-recent election, he and his GOP colleagues saw that bail reform and criminal justice were huge issues that needed to be tackled.

“We saw suddenly our elected officials coming to the realization that bail reform and criminal justice reform did not keep us safe and it was not an effective law,” he said.

Zeldin and Tierney were joined by members of the state Senate and Assembly. Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James) congratulated Tierney on his recent win.

“I’m so excited that the people spoke,” Mattera said. “They wanted to make sure we have the right people in place to keep our residents safe.”

Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) said that bail reform “needs to change — it’s dangerous.”

“The people have spoken,” he added. “They finally remember the victims who have been forgotten by the two majorities.”

Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) agreed that victims and witnesses are currently not safe.

“It’s not right what happened, we need to repeal it,” she said. “Repeat offenders need to be behind bars and judges need that jurisdiction back.”

By Rita J. Egan and Julianne Mosher

Election night, Nov. 2, found many Democratic candidates gathering at the IBEW Local 25 union hall in Hauppauge, while Republicans attended a get together at Stereo Garden in Patchogue. The Hauppauge event was a more somber one as some Democrats in the county lost their seats, while other races were close ones.

Rich Schaffer, who heads up the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, said Tuesday night’s results spoke more about what was happening on the national level than about the candidates.

“This was just, as you see, a big wave that took out some really good elected officials, and if you were a challenger, you had even a steeper row to hoe as opposed to an easy time, like we’ve normally been able to do,” he said.

While candidates and supporters eagerly awaited the results of in-person votes, the final tallies may not be known in some races for a few weeks due to the Suffolk County Board of Elections still needing to count absentee ballots. Results are as of the morning of Nov. 3.

Suffolk County district attorney

The race between county District Attorney Tim Sini (D) and prosecutor Ray Tierney, who ran on the Republican and Conservative lines, was a contentious one. At the forefront, Tierney questioned whether Sini has been as tough on crime as the DA himself has said, especially regarding the MS-13 gang.

At the end of the night, Tierney emerged the winner with 154,569 votes (57.34%). Sini garnered 114,943 (42.64%). Sini was first elected to the position in 2017.

“I am proud and humbled to stand before you here today,” Tierney said during his victory speech. “Despite being running against an incumbent, despite not having a lot of money in the beginning, despite not having the support of a lot of institutions — not for one day did I feel like an underdog, because of you guys.”

Tierney added his goal is to “fight every day to keep the citizens of Suffolk County safe.”

“I will reach out into the community to develop relationships so we can all have faith in our district attorney’s office,” he said.

Suffolk County sheriff

Errol Toulon Jr. (D) has been county sheriff since 2017 and was seeking his second term this election season. His opponent, William Amato, who ran on the Republican ticket, was not actively campaigning.

At the end of the night, Toulon was declared the winner with 142,510 (54.28%). Amato received 119,947 (45.69%).

Toulon Tuesday night was overwhelmed as he thanked those in attendance at the union hall.

“I do want to thank all of you for your constant support, not just your support now, but over the last four years of talking to me and encouraging me during some difficult circumstances in taking over the sheriff’s office, and I hope to do a better job over the next four years than I did over the last four years,” Toulon said. 

Suffolk County legislators

County Legislator Nick Caracappa (R-Selden) won his seat for the 4th Legislative District with 8,748 votes (71.52%). Caracappa took on the role during a special election in 2020 following the death of Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma). The incumbent’s opponent, Dawn Sharrock, on the Democratic ticket, had a total of 3,476 votes (28.42%).

“I’m looking forward to​​ making real changes,” Caracappa said. “All the families here work hard and they deserve this victory — not just for the Republicans, this is for everybody. It’s a victory for Suffolk County — it’s a victory for the hardworking middle class.”

Sharrock said Tuesday night she sees herself running for office again.

“I honestly feel like I’ve learned so much,” she said. “I’ve grown so much. I’ve learned even just so much about myself. It’s been an experience that I’m so glad I was able to have. I’ve been surrounded by so many wonderful people, so many people who have supported me, never doubting my ability. It’s inspiring, and it’s uplifting. I have two daughters, a 16-year-old and a 14-year-old, and they’re so inspired by my journey and that means so much.”

Caracappa said he hopes that Sharrock continues to serve her community.

“It’s not easy to do that,” he said. “I respect anybody who wants to make positive change.”

The race in the county’s 5th District, which includes the Three Village Area and Port Jefferson, is a tight one. County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) was in the lead with 7,582 votes (50.25%). Salvatore Isabella, who ran on the Republican ticket and did not actively campaign, had 7,508 votes (49.75%).

The night was a nail-biter for Hahn, who is up for her sixth term.

“I am cautiously optimistic that once all the votes are counted, voters will return me to office and I’ll be honored to continue to serve my community,” Hahn said in a statement Wednesday morning. “I look forward to continuing my work to protect our Long Island way of life and make a difference for our working families.”

County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) was seeking her sixth term in office. The incumbent trailed with 7,141 votes (42.10%). Town of Brookhaven employee Brendan Sweeney won the race with 8,329 votes (49.11%). The newcomer ran on the Republican ticket. Conservative candidate Anthony DeSimone garnered 1,488 votes (8.77%).

Sweeney declared victory during Tuesday night’s event.

“It feels so good,” he said. “The voters spoke. They want change for this county and now with me and the rest of the newly elected legislators, we can do what’s best for the people.”

Anker said she was hoping to continue as she has many projects she would like to complete.

“I’ll continue to do something to stay in the area of helping people, that’s my goal, my priority, and I appreciate all those people that came out to vote,” she said. “But this was, I think, a national tsunami.”

The legislator added her 6th District is a Republican area, and it has always been an uphill battle for her.

“I’m just very fortunate to have served as long as I have, over 10 years, and do all the projects and initiatives that I have,” she said.

In the 12th District which includes parts of the Town of Smithtown, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma and Centereach, county Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) won her fourth term in office with 12,629 votes (74.57%). Her opponent Mike Siderakis, who ran unsuccessfully for state senator against Mario Mattera (R-St. James) last year, stopped actively campaigning this summer. Siderakis obtained 4,301 votes (25.40%).

Kennedy said during her victory speech at Stereo Garden that the win proves how well the party works together.

“We work hard, we have good values and we stand together as a team,” she said.

County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) garnered 10,896 votes (53.09%) and won his fifth term in office. Also on the ballot were Democrat Kevin Mulholland, who didn’t actively campaign, and won 4,693 votes (22.87%), and Michael Simonelli on the Conservative ticket, who campaigned but didn’t debate Trotta this election season. Simonelli had 4,932 votes (24.03%).

The district includes parts of Smithtown as well as Fort Salonga and portions of Commack and East Northport.

Trotta in an email statement said, “I am thrilled and honored that the people of the 13th Legislative District did not pay attention to the outright lies made by the police unions, of which my Conservative opponent was the treasurer, and [the people] voted for me based upon my record of fighting for the taxpayers, working for fiscal stability and helping my constituents.”

The 18th District, which sits in the Town of Huntington, included candidates Mark Cuthbertson (D), currently serving as Huntington Town councilman, and Stephanie Bontempi, a newcomer to the political field. The two decided to vie for the seat after county Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) decided not to run this year. He is currently facing charges for allegedly trading oxycodone for sex.

Bontempi emerged the winner with 11,419 votes (53.89%), while Cuthbertson 9,765 votes (46.08%).

“Today is a new day for Suffolk County,” she said. “With this victory, we readily flipped the balance of power in the Legislature. We changed the list of priorities. Our neighbors and the community have chosen accountability, transparency and integrity. They’ve chosen a peer over an insider. I cannot wait to get started in working with my new colleagues.”

Cuthbertson said he never says never, but he doesn’t see himself going back to town politics currently. He said he was glad he ran for county legislator.

“We laid it all out there, and I’m at peace with how much we did,” he said.

Town of Brookhaven

Incumbent Donna Lent (R) faced Ira Costell (D) running for town clerk of the Town of Brookhaven. Lent, who is serving her second term as town clerk, has managed day-to-day operations such as issuing death certificates and handicap parking permits, while land-use applications are filed within the office.

Costell has taken leadership roles in environmental causes such as the Suffolk County Watershed Protection Advisory Committee and served as chair of the county’s Pine Barrens Review Commission. He has been passionate about the fight against opioid addiction and prescription drug abuse.

Lent won her seat with 54,318 votes (67.91%), while Costell had 25,642 (32.06%).

Town of Smithtown

Incumbent Ed Wehrheim (R) faced Democrat and newcomer to the political field Maria Scheuring in the race for Smithtown supervisor. The incumbent has been a part of town government for nearly 50 years. He won his first term as supervisor in 2017 after beating out Patrick Vecchio (R) who served in the position for nearly four decades.

Scheuring, an attorney, grew up in the Bronx, and moved to Smithtown in 2006 where she has a private practice dealing in matters from guardianship to visiting clients in nursing homes to looking over music contracts.

Smithtown residents voted back in Wehrheim Nov. 2. The incumbent had 20,446 votes (75.01%), while Scheuring garnered 6,806 (24.97%).

In an email statement, Wehrheim said he was humble and grateful for the support.

“Our first election cycle we set out to talk with the people in the community,” he said. “We didn’t preach or promise. We simply asked, ‘What do you want from your local leaders?’ We then devoted these past four years to delivering for the community. We didn’t kick the can and wait for help when COVID-19 inflicted its wrath upon us. We looked at every obstacle as an opportunity. I believe that the voting public visually and physically sees what we’ve accomplished in a short period of time: the parks, athletic fields, community entertainment, downtown improvements. They want more and we are eager to deliver.”

Scheuring said Tuesday night she learned a lot during the campaign and just how complicated it can be. The newcomer to the political field said she is interested in seeking office in the future, and she said regarding a position such as town supervisor the issues aren’t Democratic or Republican.

“It’s more, ‘Do we think this is the best for the town?’” she said.

Town of Smithtown councilmembers, Lynne Nowick (R) and Tom McCarthy (R), regained their seats with 19.833 votes (37.46%) for Nowick and 19,753 votes (37.31%) for McCarthy. Democratic candidates, Dylan Rice and Marc Etts, did not actively campaign and received 6,965 (13.16%) and 6,378 votes (12.05%) respectively.

Nowick thanked voters for putting their trust in her in an email statement.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Town Board to keep Smithtown the alluring town that it is,” she said. “Quality of life in Smithtown is the highest priority. We will all continue to preserve our beautiful parks, beaches, golf courses and clean up any eyesores to keep Smithtown beautiful.”

McCarthy said in an email statement the voters sent a loud and clear message, and “it was a great night, not just for us but for all of Long Island.”

“I am extremely grateful to the Smithtown voters for their continued support and am eager to devote these next four years to delivering for the constituency,” he said. “We’re on the cusp of some big improvements coming to Smithtown, with a timeline to sewering Smithtown in place, a shovel in the ground in Kings Park, slated for January and St. James has never looked so good. We’re going to finish what we started and then some, creating an ideal community for our young professionals, families and seniors to call home indefinitely.”

Vincent Puleo ran unopposed for town clerk, and Robert Murphy was also the lone name on the ballot for superintendent of highways.

Town of Huntington

Two councilmen and a newcomer were on the ballots for Town of Huntington supervisor after current town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) decided not to seek reelection. Councilmen Ed Smyth (R) and Eugene Cook, who ran as a third-party Independent candidate, gained 25,409 (56.34%) and 1,746 (3.87%) votes, respectively.

Democratic candidate Rebecca Sanin, president and CEO of nonprofit Health & Welfare Council of Long Island, had 17,940 votes (39.78%).

With councilmen Cuthbertson running for county legislator and Smyth running for town supervisor, two seats were up for grabs on the Town Board. Candidates David Bennardo and Sal Ferro ran on the Republican and Conservative party lines, while Joseph Schramm and Jennifer Hebert ran on the Democratic ticket. Bennardo and Ferro emerged the winners with 26,669 (30.46%) and 25,206 (28.79%), respectively. Hebert had 18,335 votes (20.94%) and Schramm 17,328 (19.79%).

Andre Sorrentino beat out incumbent Kevin Orelli for superintendent of highways with 25,565 votes (56.69%). Orelli garnered 19,524 (43.29%).