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Suffolk County District Attorney

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.

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The house where Raymond Rodio III allegedly committed acts of sex trafficking. Photo by Kyle Barr

A Sound Beach man who was arrested last year for sex trafficking pled guilty Feb. 4. He is set to be sentenced in March and faces what could be more than nine years in prison.

The Suffolk County district attorney announced Raymond Rodio III pled guilty to several counts of sex trafficking, selling drugs and several counts of promoting prostitution. 

Police and prosecutors said Rodio had been conducting a human trafficking operation in the basement apartment of his parent’s house located on Lower Rocky Point Road in Sound Beach, in which police said they identified more than 20 victims who had been moved through that house. Rodio engaged in drug sales, including heroin and crack cocaine, and used those drugs to keep better control of his victims, which he pimped out in motels around Long Island.

“This is an individual who clearly had no regard for the women he victimized, subjecting them to exploitation, fear and humiliation,” District Attorney Tim Sini (D) said after the defense’s guilty plea was read out. “It is our hope that this guilty plea delivers justice for the many survivors of Rodio’s scheme.”

Police also said Rodio would keep women in that basement for an extended period of time, forcing them to use a bucket as a toilet since there was no bathroom in the apartment. The Sound Beach man would post advertisements on websites, including Backpage and Craigslist, promoting prostitution by the victims and would keep either a large percentage or all of the profits of their prostitution.

Rodio’s attorney is listed as Scott Gross, a Garden City-based criminal defense attorney. Gross did not return calls for request for comment.

Police originally started investigating Rodio after a Suffolk County police officer noticed a suspected victim of trafficking in his car during a routine traffic stop in August 2018. The man was later arrested in March 2019 after an investigation found a score of other victims.

Rodio is scheduled to be sentenced by Acting Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen March 9. The court promised the defendant a 9½-year with five years of postrelease supervision on the top count. He will also be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.

Investigators identify and continue to investigate Operation Pay Dirt, New York State’s largest alleged dumping conspiracy. Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

Smithtown resident Anthony “Rock” Grazio, the self-proclaimed “dirt broker,” plead guilty in an alleged illegal dumping conspiracy on Long Island.    

Smithtown resident Anthony ‘Rock’ Grazio. Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced the guilty plea May 2 after digging into the issue over the last 15 months. Thirty people, including Grazio, and nine corporations were indicted in November 2018 in an ongoing investigation called Operation Pay Dirt.

More than 24 Long Island dump sites were involved in the alleged conspiracy.

“As I’ve stated before, we are facing an epidemic of environmental crimes in Suffolk County,” Sini said. “This case was a great first step forward in ending those crimes. This plea, and Grazio’s pending prison sentence, will send a strong message to polluters that crime does not pay.” 

Between January and July 2018, as part of the alleged illegal dumping conspiracy, Grazio would allegedly act as a dirt broker by arranging for locations where trucking companies could illegally dispose of solid waste. Grazio posted advertisements on the website craigslist and on OfferUp, a marketplace app, for “clean fill,” or material that could be used for residential landscaping projects. He also solicited homeowners over the phone and in person for locations to use for dumping. Grazio would then coordinate with the owners or operators of trucking companies and solid waste management facilities to have solid waste illegally dumped at those properties.

In February 2018, the District Attorney’s Office, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Suffolk County Police Department began an investigation into the alleged Island-wide conspiracy. The months-long investigation involved the use of electronic and physical surveillance, including court-authorized eavesdropping. 

“During their phone conversations, Rock and the owners or operators of the trucking companies would discuss residential and commercial sites and the amount of material that could be dumped at a particular site,” Sini said. “The bigger the property, the better for the defendants, as this scam was all about making money.” 

Sini said that when an ideal property was found, Grazio could often be heard directing his co-conspirators to “hit it hard.” 

“This is a situation where people deliberately skirted the law to line their pockets with money and acted out of pure greed at the expense of the public health of residents of Suffolk County,” Sini said. 

DEC testing of the illegally dumped solid waste found that six of the locations contained acutely hazardous substances and 17 sites contained hazardous substances under New York State Environmental Conservation Law. The acutely hazardous substances included aldrin, dieldrin and heptachlor, which are all pesticides. The hazardous substances identified include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc and mercury, which are all metals.

Nineteen of the 24 locations are residential, four are commercial and one is a school. The solid waste dumped at the school was immediately removed.

Grazio, 54, plead guilty to two counts of criminal mischief in the second degree, a felony; two counts of endangering public health, safety or the environment in the third degree, a felony; conspiracy in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor; and operating a solid waste management facility without a permit, a misdemeanor.

Grazio is scheduled to be sentenced by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei July 15. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Grazio faces a sentence of two to four years in prison and a restitution judgment order in the amount of $500,000. This case is being prosecuted by assistant district attorneys Luigi Belcastro, Laura Sarowitz and Adriana Noyola of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau.

The investigation is ongoing, and Sini convened a special grand jury in November to hear evidence and make recommendations regarding illegal dumping in Suffolk County. The grand jury is still impaneled. 

Residents who believe they are a victim of illegal dumping can contact the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at 631-853-5602 or InfoDA@suffolkcountyny.gov. They can also contact the NYS DEC’s 24-hour Poacher and Polluter hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS, 1-844-332-3267.

Jeans placed in the Safe Center LI Bethpage headquarters in recognition of National Denim Day which looks to support survivors of sexual violence. Photo by Kyle Barr

This post is in regards to a story published on April 25 about Raymond Radio III, who allegedly ran a sex trafficking ring in his parents’ house located in Sound Beach.

The house on Lower Rocky Point Road that allegedly was used by Raymond Rodio III for sex trafficking is well known in the community for its multitudes of colorful lawn ornaments. For residents of the small North Shore hamlet, with a population barely over 7,500, reactions on social media ranged from disbelief to outrage. 

But sex trafficking has become a growing front for those linked to the illicit drug trade, and according to those who try and work with those who have been victims of sex trafficking, the trade is well-linked to the middle-class suburban areas of Long Island.

The house where Raymond Rodio III allegedly committed acts of sex trafficking. Photo by Kyle Barr

Emily Waters is the director of Human Trafficking Programs at The Safe Center LI, a Bethpage nonprofit that assists the survivors of drug addiction, domestic abuse, child abuse and other issues. She said the issue of sex trafficking has only escalated in recent years, due in part to the opioid crisis that has killed millions across the nation. The center is currently involved with more than 130 human trafficking cases on Long Island, including minors and adults involved in sex and labor, but cases like the one in Sound Beach, she said, are extremely common. 

Waters said these human traffickers, often called pimps, use drug addiction as a means of control of these people, mostly women. She said the average age for these young women is 14 or 15 years old, though she has personally been involved, in the United States, with cases of one as young as 9 years old.

“A victim can look like anyone,” Waters said. “Could be anyone from a high socioeconomic background to somebody who’s living in poverty.”

Worse, sex trafficking has become, in many cases, a more profitable business for criminals. Keith Scott, the director of education at the Safe Center, said a pimp could make upwards of $280,000 a year, and that the practice is often harder to prosecute on the polices’ end.

In 2017, the Suffolk County Police Department, at the time headed by Sini, launched a pilot program to go after human traffickers, according to the DA’s office. In 2018, Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart adopted the Human Trafficking Investigations Unit while the DA launched its own team to track human traffickers.

For years, human trafficking has been growing as an issue. Data from the New York National Human Trafficking Hotline show there have been more than 6,400 calls and more than 2,000 cases of sex trafficking for New York since 2007. The vast majority of these are sex trafficking, and the vast majority are with women.

A 2017 report by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health said the top sex trafficking venues are commercial-front brothels (with legitimate businesses up front and illegal sex work in the back), online advertising venues such as craigslist and hotel- or motel-based venues.

Those who have worked to get people treatment understand the issue has grown on Long Island, people like Joe Czulada, a graduate of the Riverhead school district and Riverhead resident until recently who moved with his wife to Brooklyn, where she operates a funeral home. Czulada worked as an interventionist, helping to put people into recovery for about five years. He saw the way the opioid epidemic was tied to the illicit sex trafficking industry. What he saw was mostly young women from small hamlets, those who were often addicted to drugs, and whose pimps used that addiction as leverage against them.

“It’s prevalent, it’s become ever more prevalent, the whole industry,” Czulada said. “It’s everywhere, in every small town here on Long Island.”

The work was emotionally draining, especially in seeing people go in and out of recovery, often ending up back on the street or back with the people who abused.

Cases of sex trafficking with prostitutes over the age of consent require proving a form of cohesion. Many cases, like the alleged one of Rodio, come in the form of what Waters called the “chemical tether,” or the trauma bonding between a trafficker and victim. The pimps often come in two forms, ones who expressly use violence to maintain control, and the others who first get the trust of girls, often abusing their need for affection if they come from affectionless backgrounds, and then hooking them on drugs in the process. Scott said opioids are often used, especially in modern cases of sex trafficking, because it makes those victims more docile. Stimulants, like cocaine, are also used often. Those sex traffickers use the threat of withholding drugs as cohesion. In many cases, the pimps will effectively brand women with tattoos, which can range from the pimp’s name to words like “whore,” effectively reducing their chance of being able to get employment if they wished to escape the life.

A patchwork quilt hung up in the Safe Center LI’s headquarters in Bethpage. Photo by Kyle Barr

The biggest misconception when it comes to sex trafficking is that it only happens to those in poverty. Cases like the one alleged in Sound Beach show just how tangible the reality is for middle-class areas. And in the age of the Internet, pimps also find these victims through social media, luring in these young women through the promise of affection and drugs. Waters said recruitment also often occurs at schools. Often sex work is sold through online websites, such as craigslist, but she said it also occurs at more than 20 other websites, and even on mobile dating apps such as Tinder.

Beyond that, it takes a campaign of education, starting with local schools, to keep the community informed. It takes people knowledgeable about the warning signs, and a need for people to call the police if they suspect someone is engaged in sex trafficking.

“People may not know what they’ve seen, but they’ve seen something,” said Scott, who grew up in Smithtown and currently lives in Kings Park. He knows the North Shore and said despite its prototypical sense of suburbia and pockets of wealth, residents need to understand what issues creep into the smallest of residential neighborhoods. 

“People often don’t want to realize it’s going on in their own backyard,” he said.

A V. Garofalo Carting truck. Photo from Facebook

A Brentwood-based garbage carter and two of its employees have been charged with attempting to defraud the Town of Smithtown and its taxpayers of nearly $1 million after an investigation conducted by Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

V. Garofalo Carting, its principal owner Mario Garofalo and employee Robert Garofalo pled not guilty to allegations of enterprise corruption, money laundering and grand larceny among other charges in Suffolk County Supreme Court Nov. 15 before Judge Richard Ambro.

“This is a serious case of wrongdoing that defrauds the Town of Smithtown,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) said. “Our message is we will hold these type of bad actors accountable.”

This is a serious case of wrongdoing that defrauds the Town of Smithtown.”

— Tim Sini

Sini said the investigation was born out of a complaint filed with the county by the Town of Smithtown in 2014. It had laid stagnant, untouched, until he conducted a file review at the start of his term.

Between January 2015 and February 2016, prosecutors said the garbage carter and its employees allegedly hatched what they said was referred to as the Tulsa Plan, according to court documents. The garbage carter and its employees allegedly collected commercial garbage from businesses, both those unregistered with the Town of Smithtown, and others across Nassau and Suffolk County, to dispose of at the Covanta Huntington waste facility in East Northport on at least 19 different dates in exchange for a fee. Upon arriving at the facility, Garofalo employees then allegedly provided documentation falsely stating the commercial garbage had been collected in Smithtown, causing the town to be billed for its disposal, according to court records.

“Once we receive a copy of the indictment, our attorneys will review it to see if there’s any damages incurred by the town,” Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said Nov. 16. “Then we will take the appropriate measures.”

The town attorney’s office has since received a copy of the indictment against V. Garofalo Carting and the two men but was still reviewing it as of press time Nov. 20.

In addition, the district attorney’s investigation also alleged Mario Garofalo has used the Brentwood property of V. Garofalo Carting off Crooked Hill Road as a transfer station, storing commercial trash there, despite lacking the required permits to do so. 

At the end of the day, I firmly believe Mario, who has spent his life taking care of community, will gain his good reputation back at trial.” 

— Ray Perini

Ray Perini, a Huntington-based attorney representing Mario Garofalo, said he does not believe the allegations put forth by the district attorney’s office can be substantiated.

“At the end of the day, I firmly believe Mario, who has spent his life taking care of community, will gain his good reputation back at trial,” Perini said.

V. Garofalo Carting currently has a contract with the town to pick up and dispose of residential waste for approximately 17,000 homes, according to Wehrheim. Smithtown’s elected officials held a series of emergency meetings Nov. 16 to discuss possible measures to take, if needed, to ensure regular trash collection continues. 

“We are preparing in the event that they discontinue service how we will continue serving those homes,” Wehrheim said. “We hope it doesn’t happen. If it does, we will have a plan B.

Mario Garofalo’s attorney assured that should not be a concern, given the company’s good reputation having been in business for more than 57 years on Long Island, he said.

“This company will live up to contracts and continue to pick up residential trash,” Perini said.

Previously, a recyclables contractor for the Town of Smithtown, Jody Enterprises, was indicted for allegedly running a paper and cardboard scheme back in August 2012. The town, at that time under the leadership of former Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R), chose to settle the allegations out of court with an agreement the company would pay back restitution.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini during his inauguration. File photo by Alex Petroski

By Kyle Barr

Amid escalating gang activity in Suffolk County, District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced the creation of a gang task force to combat the rise, specifically of MS-13, the group linked to six Suffolk killings in 2017.

The gang unit, which has already begun operations, exists inside the new Enhanced Prosecution Bureau within the district attorney’s office. Sini said during a press conference Feb. 7 that the unit will focus specifically on prosecuting gang members, even lower-level ones or members who commit non-gang-related crimes. Just before the event a meeting took place, which is said to be the first of many bi-weekly meetings, co-led by the DA’s office and Suffolk County Police Department.

“This is an enormous shift in paradigm — this will bring the fight to a whole new level.”

— Tim Sini

“Previously, when a gang member committed an offense, that prosecution issue was handled by any number of different bureaus within the district attorney’s office,” Sini said. “It created a system where gang members could fall through the cracks or be treated like any other individual. That is no longer going to be the case. We will be strategic in our prosecution against gang members.”

Though overall crime rates in Suffolk County have gone down, there has been persistent MS-13 activity, including the double homicide of young Brentwood residents Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, and the murder of four young Latino men in 2016. More than a dozen alleged gang members were arrested in 2017 and charged with their murders. Many more murders, attempted kidnappings and drug sales have also been linked to the gang.

The new focus on gang activity has become internalized in other law enforcement agencies, such as Suffolk County’s Sheriff’s Department, which plans to revamp its gang unit inside the office and expand its data analytics and predictive models relating to gang crime.

“Part of it is going to be a learning curve, because my staff is going to have to learn my ideals and how I want to look at things, and it will require more resources,” Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. said. “The Suffolk County PD is assisting us with some technology that will allow us to look at these patterns differently, and not only patterns, but individuals as well.”

Sini said that with this change the county will be more effective in deciding whether a crime should be processed locally or federally.

The Suffolk County PD is assisting us with some technology that will allow us to look at these patterns differently, and not only patterns, but individuals as well.”

— Errol Toulon Jr.

“This is an enormous shift in paradigm — this will bring the fight to a whole new level,” Sini said. “In some instances, it may make sense to start a case in the state system where we’re able to develop probable cause in an efficient manner while it may take longer to build that federal case.”

The 14-member gang unit includes eight assistant district attorneys and six special investigators. The gang unit will be led by deputy bureau chief Kate Wagner, and the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau will be led by veteran prosecutor Christiana McSloy, who has previously worked on gang cases in Nassau County’s District Attorney’s office.

The assistant district attorneys assigned to the gang unit will be on call on a rotating basis. and available around the clock for when police need assistance or advice. One of the prosecutors speaks Spanish.

The district attorney’s office also announced a partnership with Suffolk County Crime Stoppers, which will still allow community members to send in tips on gang activity that, if leads to an arrest, offers cash rewards up to $5,000.

The new program was announced just over a week after President Donald Trump (R) made mention of MS-13 in his State of the Union address. He cited the rash of gang killings as reason for America to change its immigration laws. MS-13 activity in Suffolk also inspired the president to visit the Brentwood Suffolk Police Department Academy campus during summer 2017 in which he addressed a crowd of officers.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini is read the oath of office by Sen. Chuck Schumer during Sini's inauguration Jan. 2. Photo by Alex Petroski

Though calendars and thermometers will provide unmistakable evidence that spring is still several months away, new hope sprung eternal in Suffolk County Jan. 2.

Tim Sini (D) was officially sworn in by U.S. Sen. Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), the Senate minority leader, to begin his tenure as Suffolk County’s District Attorney, a position Sini captured with a 26-point landslide Election Day victory over his Republican opponent Ray Perini. Sini officially assumed the vacated position Tuesday, left open by his retired and federally indicted predecessor Tom Spota (D), during an inauguration ceremony at the Brentwood campus of Suffolk County Community College in front of town and county elected officials and friends and family of the new DA.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini shakes hands with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone after he was sworn in Jan. 2. by Sen. Chuck Schumer, center. Photo by Alex Petroski

Sini campaigned on restoring public faith to a position and office now synonymous with controversy and accusations. Speakers including County Executive Steve Bellone (D), former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York David Kelley and co-chairman of Sini’s campaign and transition team, and the newly inaugurated DA himself each referred to his responsibility in restoring that faith as a primary objective during his time on the job.

“The prosecutor’s mission at its core is not to seek convictions, but to seek justice,” Bellone said. “It is like many things that this person of deep faith believes to his core. Unfortunately in Suffolk County for too many years and in too many instances this truth has been overshadowed by self-dealing and chicanery. I can tell you with certainty, with as much certainty as one individual can hold, that this chain is broken today — that a new era of integrity in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office has begun.”

Though their time in the Eastern District of New York didn’t overlap, Kelley served at the head of the U.S. Attorney’s office, where Sini was an assistant U.S. Attorney before returning to Suffolk, where Bellone would eventually appoint him Police Commissioner. During his remarks, Kelley cited a quote from a 1935 Supreme Court decision in which members of the court took a prosecutor to task for his conduct, indicating the quote was particularly relevant for Suffolk County and should remind Sini of his duties ahead.

Suffolk County District Attorney speaks about moving the office forward into the future during his inauguration ceremony Jan. 2. Photo by Alex Petroski

“The prosecutor is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all, and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution, is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done,” Kelley recited from the court’s findings. “As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the two-fold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor — indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones.”

The theme of Sini’s message during the ceremony was to look forward.

“Today marks the beginning — marks the moment that together, we usher in a new era of criminal justice in Suffolk County, one that ensures public safety, champions the law and promotes faith and trust in our law enforcement agencies,” he said. “Each and every day the public will know that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office is doing the right thing.”

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The issue of the newspaper that you now hold in your hands or are reading on an electronic device is an annual superstar. Only once in each year do we publish a comprehensive preelection section that speaks to the upcoming races. We invite the opponents together to our offices for each local race and pepper them with questions until we feel we have a good handle on them. This section is the distillation of many hours of interviews with the candidates and follow-up research, putting together the information that we are privileged to learn. Then we share that information with you.

We go even further. After careful consideration, sometimes over a period of many days, we will come to a conclusion as to whom to vote for and tell you what we think and why. These are our endorsements and may be found on the editorial pages in the back of the paper. We also include a sample ballot so you can walk into your polling place and know the layout on which you will mark your choices.

We are the only community newspapers that span three towns in Suffolk: Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington. So as you can imagine, there are a good number of races in which we need to be involved. In two of these towns, there will be a new day for there are open seats at the top of the ticket for the first time in more than a score of years. In Huntington, longtime Supervisor Frank Petrone decided not to run again, and so Edwards is giving up her seat on the town board, as she and state Assemblyman Lupinacci compete to lead the town. Candidates for the two town board seats are incumbent Cuthbertson and challengers Smyth, Leonick and Rogan. Berland, too, is leaving her seat on the board and trying for a Suffolk County legislative seat, running against Gavilla. Kennedy is challenged by Hyms for her seat in the legislature.

Smithtown Township has the same open top position since Vecchio lost the Republican primary and will not be running for supervisor for the first time in 40 years. Instead the residents will have Holst, Wehrheim or Slevin as their new leader. The voters will also choose two board members among Fortunato, Doyle, McCarthy, Nowick, Lohmann and Stoddard.

Brookhaven, in contrast, has no open seats but plenty of competition. Incumbent Romaine is facing a challenge from Harrington for supervisor. In our coverage district, incumbent Councilwoman Cartright is running against challenger Canale, and incumbent Bonner is being opposed by Goodman. For the county Legislature in our Brookhaven area, we have incumbent Anker versus Pollakusky and incumbent Hahn challenged by Flood. Also in play is the Brookhaven Town superintendent of highways position, as incumbent Dan Losquadro is challenged by Portesy.

Two of the most closely watched contests in Suffolk County are for district attorney and sheriff. Both of those positions are open seats. Police Commissioner Sini is running against Perini for DA and Stony Brook University Deputy Police Chief Zacarese is opposed by Toulon in the race for sheriff.

On top of our usual duties at TBR News Media, we interviewed them all. It was exhausting but exhilarating, as we learned more than we already knew from the incumbents and a great deal about the challengers. We heard about the issues that are on the minds of the North Shore community. The electorate is concerned about the escalating opioid epidemic that is killing hundreds, particularly of our younger people. Residents also continue to be frustrated about high property taxes, public safety — especially as it relates to the insidious growth of gangs, the traffic in Smithtown, the homeless in Brookhaven and the brain drain that is the result of not enough high-paying jobs and affordable housing.

We also tell you our opinion of a constitutional convention. We oppose it, fearing a Pandora’s box containing many evils.

We are always impressed that residents will come forward to run for public office. Campaigns are a lot of work, and being a public servant has its tribulations. This year, more than most others, we are further impressed by the high quality of candidates. We urge you to do one of the two things you are allowed only if you are an American citizen. Please be sure to VOTE.

P.S. The other is to serve on a jury.

From left, Bill Ferris, Tim Sini and Ray Perini are currently the three known candidates for Suffolk County district attorney. Photo on left from Ferris; file photo center; photo on right from Perini

Update: Bill Ferris dropped out of the race in July, there will be no primary to select a Republican candidate Sept. 12.

On the heels of Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota’s (D) decision to forgo a run at a fifth term this November, two Republicans and a Democrat, each longtime law enforcers, so far are publicly vying for the county’s top prosecutor job.

Spota, who assumed office in 2001, made his official announcement May 12, about a year after County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and several legislators called on him to resign from his position after playing a role in the promotion of former Suffolk County Chief of Police James Burke, who pleaded guilty in February 2016 to charges of a civil rights violation and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

“I want to be the next DA because I can make this county safe again.”

— Ray Perini

Accused of taking part in a police cover-up, which spurred on a federal investigation, Spota has been under scrutiny from both sides of the aisle for the last year. Spota shed light on his decision in an emailed statement through spokesman Robert Clifford.

“Be assured, this is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made and my final decision was only made recently,” he said. “The deciding factor though, is that life is too short (especially at my age) and it’s time to spend quality time with my wife, children and grandchildren (with 2 more on the way!).”

With Spota out of the race, the torch will be passed on to a newcomer, of which there are three known contenders eyeing the seat — Ray Perini (R), former chief and founder of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Narcotics Bureau; Bill Ferris (R), a Vietnam veteran and former assistant district attorney; and Tim Sini (D), current Suffolk County police commissioner —  according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Each of them, as well as any others who decide to throw their hat in the ring, are expected to file petitions between July 10 and July 13.

Perini, 69, a Huntington resident, who entered the race in January, said he’s been training his entire career to be district attorney and wants to “take politics out of the DA’s office.”

“At this point in my career, I don’t want anything else,” Perini said. “I don’t want to be county executive, I don’t want to be governor, I don’t want to be judge … I want to be the next DA because I can make this county safe again.”

A highly experienced criminal lawyer with an active practice in Islandia, Perini has 43 years of experience in the criminal justice system, 17 of which were spent as a prosecutor bouncing from Brooklyn to Suffolk County, where he started the Narcotics Bureau in 1976.

In 1989, he went on to work with federal and state police agencies, including Suffolk County Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and drug task forces. He served as co-chair of the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association’s criminal law committee and is a past president of the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association.

“There is nothing I haven’t done in the criminal justice system,” Perini said. His major focuses if elected, he said, are gang violence and drug overdoses. “As a united front, working with the federal government, DEA, FBI and cops on the street, collectively, we can win this war [against drugs]. We need experience, this is what I’ve done, this is what I can do. All I care about is getting the job done.”

Perini ran unsuccessfully against Spota four years ago after the incumbent was cross-endorsed on all four party lines, for which Perini attacked Spota for not giving voters a choice at the polls.

“I wouldn’t accept a cross-endorsement,” the father of two said. “I want the voters to pick.”

“I want to restore the integrity and professionalism to the office, as well as faith in the judicial system and also in law enforcement.”

— Bill Ferris

Ferris, 70, a former Navy captain in the Vietnam war and Fordham Law School graduate from Southold, announced recently his intention to run against Perini, the choice of the Republican Party for the September primary.

“I want to restore the integrity and professionalism to the office, as well as faith in the judicial system and also in law enforcement,” Ferris, who served as prosecutor for 23 years under former Suffolk District Attorney Patrick Henry starting in 1978, said. “My background is clear and clean. I was in that office for 23 years and handled homicide, vehicular homicide, served on the Katie Beers [kidnapping] matter, tried a political corruption case against county sheriff Patrick Mahoney, served as president of the Suffolk County Bar Association recently, have taught young lawyers ethics and served on the Grievance Committee for Nassau and Suffolk for eight years.”

He said anyone who runs for the DA position has to have a clean record of integrity, accountability and professionalism, all of which the father of two said he has.

Among his biggest priority if elected, he said, is getting a handle on the gang situation that has left Suffolk residents feeling unsafe.

“I’ll protect the citizens, fight the gangs and give us back our good name,” Ferris said in a statement. “While I was in the DA office, we did have a gang unit, which was discounted under Mr. Spota … The DA’s office is in a critical position to bring in federal agency, state, and local police to put together a master plan to both investigate and prosecute gang members. Parents are afraid on a daily basis to send their kids to school and that should not happen in Suffolk County.”

Sini, 36, the youngest commissioner in the history of Suffolk County, announced his official run for the job on the same day Spota made his announcement, despite a claim in front of the county legislature in February 2016 before he was confirmed that he had no intentions of running for district attorney.

“[Tim Sini] stepped up to the plate and I think that’s exactly what we need.”

— David Kelley

“I think that when he said that he wouldn’t run, he meant what he said,” said David Kelley, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and chairman of Sini’s campaign. “Since then, a couple things have happened. Having the insight he does on the needs of the DA’s office and how the shape it’s in is so bad and such a disservice to the county, he could see that firsthand from his vantage point as commissioner from taking on difficult cases like MS-13, recognizing this office needs somebody who can be really good … he stepped up to the plate and I think that’s exactly what we need.”

Sini, who did not return multiple requests for comment through Kelley, has taken on the county’s gang violence and drug problem head-on in his short time in his position. He recently spoke before the U.S. Senate to outline the departments initiatives in tackling the county’s gang problem.

“If you take his commitments to public service and his professionalism, and put it together, he, by far, surpasses any of the other candidates and I think he’s exactly what the county needs,” Kelley said. “He’s a professional prosecutor, he’s spent a good part of his career in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, he’s clerked for a federal judge, he’s a highly skilled and highly trained lawyer and prosecutor, and he also knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system in Suffolk County.”

DA to recommend maximum prison term

Maureen Myles. Photo from Suffolk DA's office

An East Northport woman has been convicted of stealing $30,000 meant to fund a van with a wheelchair lift for a Huntington teen with cerebral palsy.

Maureen Myles, 62, was convicted on Friday of grand larceny, scheme to defraud and petit larceny following a seven-day trial in Central Islip, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota’s office. DA detective-investigators arrested Myles in December 2013 for making off with the money, which donors raised at a benefit dinner in Northport.

The DA’s office said State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho found Myles guilty of one count of third-degree grand larceny, two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, scheme to defraud and petit larceny.

Myles was previously convicted of a felony — in 2004, a jury found her guilty of grand larceny and scheme to defraud, for buying $40,000 worth of Bermuda cruise tickets using credit card numbers she stole from her employer, according to the DA.

Spota said the office will recommend the maximum prison term of three and a half to seven years when Myles is sentenced on Sept. 2.

Myles’ attorney, Garden City-based Richard Benson, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on Monday.