Long Island Press

The Long Island Press

Long Island al Qaeda Sympathizer Gets 13 years in Prison

This photo of Justin Kaliebe (right) and co-conspirator Marcos Alonso Zea (left) was entered into evidence at Kaliebe's pre-sentence hearing last year.

By Rashed Mian and Timothy Bolger

A Long Island man was sentenced Tuesday to 13 years in federal prison after he admitted trying to board a plane to Yemen to help al-Qaeda carry out terror attacks against America.

Justin Kaliebe, a resident of both Babylon and Bay Shore, had pleaded guilty in 2013 at Central Islip federal court to two felony counts of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

“This case is a sobering reminder that the call to violent jihad can reach deep into our local communities,” said Robert Capers, U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Even when given the opportunity to abandon his plan to join al-Qaeda, this defendant made clear his intentions to commit himself fully to terrorism.”

Prosecutors said Kaliebe was arrested when he tried to board a flight to Yemen to join al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP]. The FBI had been monitoring Kaliebe long before he tried to board a plane at John F. Kennedy Airport, where he was arrested. He was a high school senior at the time.

“He may have committed himself to a violent cause, but he’s not a violent man,” said Kaliebe’s attorney Anthony La Pinta, according to the Associated Press. Prior to his client’s sentencing, La Pinta argued that Kaliebe suffered from Asperger’s syndrome and problems at home.

In recorded phone conversations and email correspondences with an undercover officer, Kaliebe explained that for about two years he had been searching for an opportunity to travel internationally to fight alongside AQAP, prosecutors said.

Investigators said Kaliebe referenced and quoted the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a US drone strike alongside former Westbury resident Samir Khan.

According to one recorded conversation, Kaliebe said that once in Yemen he hoped to fight the “Yemeni army” and “those who are fighting against Sharia of Allah…whether it’s the US drones or…their puppets in the Yemeni army.”

Prosecutors said Kaliebe began saving money for his trip in July 2012. By the end of that year he was pledging loyalty to AQAP’s leaders.

Oblivious to law enforcement’s investigation of his activities, Kaliebe attempted to board a flight to Oman on Jan. 21, 2013 but was arrested by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Kaliebe pleaded guilty the following month for attempting to provide material support to AQAP and attempting to provide material support to terrorists.

Another Long Islander, Marcos Alonso Zea, who prosecutors said assisted Kaliebe in his efforts to join AQAP, previously pleaded guilty to similar charges and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Kaliebe’s sentencing leaves only Bryant Neal Vinas as the only remaining Long Islander with al Qaeda ties waiting to be sentenced. Vinas was arrested in Pakistan in 2008 and has been accused of a plot to attack the Long Island Rail Road. Vinas is believed to be cooperating with authorities.

Ethiopian Coffee, Snacks & Screening of ‘Lamb’ at Cinema Arts

Lamb Ethiopia

H2 Empower, a non-profit organization, and the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington are collaborating on a one-time fundraiser this weekend that will include a film screening, traditional Ethiopian snacks and the opportunity to purchase authentic, handmade jewelry for a good cause.

The event centers around the screening of Director Yared Zeleke’s debut film, Lamb, which appeared at the Cannes Film Festival in France in 2015. The film follows a motherless boy sent away by his father to live with relatives in rural Ethiopia. Things take a turn when the boy’s uncle suggests his beloved sheep be sacrificed, forcing the boy to act in order to save the animal’s life.

Lamb was the first Ethiopian film ever selected at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, according to CNN.

In an interview with the news network when the film debuted, Zeleke said Ethiopia’s non-existent film industry makes it difficult for nascent filmmakers to get projects off the

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“There are so many difficulties facing young filmmakers in Ethiopia today,” he said. “There aren’t proper support systems in the country. We have to work on that, and I hope Lamb will open the minds and hearts of all Ethiopians to nurture real storytelling and cinema in this country.”

While bringing much-needed attention to the film is one of H2 Empower’s goals, the non-profit is also continuing the work it’s been doing for more than a dozen years in struggling African nations. Proceeds will help the organization provide girls access to high-quality education.

Included in the ticket price is a reception with Ethiopian coffee and snacks, handmade Ethiopian jewelry and scarves, plus a speaker as well as a fundraiser for education for girls in Ethiopia. Come and celebrate this phenomenal film and this magical land and culture! Lamb and Ethiopian coffee?! A no-brainer! Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. cinemaartscentre.org $15-$20. 1:30 p.m. Jan. 8.

Trump Should Copy U.S. Military Model to Fix American Child Care Crisis


By Elizabeth Palley

In his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump suggested that he understood that our nation must address the child care crisis facing working- and middle-class families. He’s right that this social problem profoundly needs to be fixed.

Approximately 21 percent of children in the United States live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In other words, a family of three survives on $19,000 a year, and a family of four on $24,000. These families have little to no money for child care. In 2013, the average annual cost of care for families with working mothers was approximately $7,400. In some states, it can be as high as $22,000, and in many states, the cost of infant care is more than 50 percent of the median family income.

There are already some federal programs designed to meet the needs of low-income families, but they have never been sufficiently funded. Head Start only provides services to approximately 40 percent of income-eligible children. Families making two times the federal poverty line—$38,000 for a family of three—are not eligible for any federal assistance.

Trump has suggested that he will support funding child care through tax benefits. Heavily influenced by his daughter Ivanka Trump, this plan would allow for standard deductions for child care expenses for the average cost of care—which according to the Trump campaign would be approximately $840 for a family of four earning $70,000. It would also allow the benefit to be included as a rebate for those receiving an Earned Income Tax Credit, enabling the amount to reach up to $1,200 per year per family.

This is only a slight increase over the $1,000 they are currently able to receive. Under this proposal, families earning between $19,000 and $38,000 can expect to receive lower benefits from the tax changes than higher income families, though their child care costs are comparably high. Neither benefit will do enough to offset the actual costs of child care.

These credits would be improvements, but they are unlikely to enable most families to easily shoulder the high cost of child care. In addition to a refundable tax credit of up to $1,000, our tax code already provides greater benefits to higher income families, despite the fact that they must pay the same amount for child care.

Employers can already support dependent care savings accounts, which lets workers contribute up to $5,000 in pre-tax income. Trump has also proposed matching the first $1,000 for low-income families using tax-exempt child care accounts. Given the poverty that many American families already face and their difficulty in meeting basic needs such as food, shelter and electricity, implementing this idea may be very challenging. They simply may not be able to save their first $1,000.

Certainly, child care in the U.S. cannot be improved without ensuring that the caretakers can make a living wage. On average, child care workers earn $10.39 an hour, 40 percent below the median wage. Fifteen percent of them live below the poverty line, and 46 percent receive public benefits themselves. These providers need a raise if they’re going to make a difference in children’s lives.

If we want to improve outcomes for all children, we need to do more than just talk about the importance of high-quality child care: We need to provide adequate financial support for child care and child care providers. A good model is the program designed for the US military, which provides high-quality care to approximately 200,000 children daily. The staff at these centers must meet high standards.

Both the center directors and the curriculum specialists must have at least a B.A. in early childhood education or in a related field. All workers at the centers must have at least a high school diploma or a GED. The parents of the children who attend pay for the care on a sliding scale.

Workers are paid on average $15 an hour including extensive benefits packages. They receive training and further opportunities for advancement. Though it costs $700 million a year, our government has decided that for the children of people in the military, this is a good investment. Why not invest in a program that benefits all American children?

Expanding tax benefits for families with children is definitely a start, but our country should do more, given the dire situation. We need a unitary national child-care policy to ensure that low-income and middle-income families have access to quality care, be it at home with their parents, or with other caregivers, or in center-based care. In a nation where 21 percent of children under 18 live in poverty, and 35 percent are being raised by single working parents, Trump’s child care solutions don’t go far enough.

Elizabeth Palley, a former social worker and public interest lawyer, is a Professor of Social Work at Adelphi University.

Horoscopes by PsychicDeb for January 2017

Horoscopes 2017

By PsychicDeb 

Aries – Uranus in your 1st house – an authority figure is watching you. Follow rules and regulations; don’t attempt to cut corners. Now is the time to enhance your reputation for reliability and efficiency. Leave frills for another time. You’ll be well-rewarded. Number 4 brings luck.

Taurus – Ruling planet in your 11th house – a social event finds your center of attention. Someone who can help with your career is on the scene and will appreciate your quest for learning and ability to laugh at troubles. Dress for success; you’ll be among prestigiuos people. Sagittarius plays an important role.

Gemini – Ruling planet in your 8th house – a message from afar lets you know that a relative is thinking of you. Special honors are coming your way; be sure to give credit to someone who taught you in the past. This month is perfect for family or group involvement, not for going it alone. Your lucky number is 2.

Cancer – Saturn in your 6th house – this month’s emphasis is on love, romance, and new enterprise. Join with a Leo on a creative project; this could lead to something much more exciting than you supposed. People notice you wherever you go this month – dress in bright, bold colors. The luck number is 1.

Leo – Ruling planet in your 6th house – help comes from behind the scenes in business or a financial manner. Someone of great integrity is on your side and will share secrets of success with you. Be willing to take on the extra duties, even if long-range in nature. Watch number 8.

Virgo – Neptune in your 7th house – a mystery can be solved if you dig deep for information. The answers lie within your own heart, not outside yourself. Take time to listen to music and appreciate art and beauty. Someone in your romantic fantasies could knock on your door. Number 7 is your best bet.

Libra – Jupiter in your 1st house – you have the potential to broaden your horizons. Finish off a job that is petty in scope and aim for bigger goals. A communication about healing or emotional problems is on the agenda. You’ll uplift others with your message and good example. The lucky number is 9.

Scorpio – Mars in your 5th house – be ready to change plans mid-stream. An exciting trip is offered to you; the chance to add to your store of learning and expressing yourself is part of the plan. Open lines of communication; say yes before an opportunity vanishes. Romance is involved. Count on number 5.

Sagittarius – Saturn in your 1st house – someone of the opposite sex provides an exciting break from dreary activities. Remain flexible in your desires; you won’t really know what you want until it is suggested. A social event, new friends and much conversation is promised. Spend time with a Gemini.

Capricorn – Pluto in your 1st house – an initial feeling of gloom dissipates as the day progresses. You’ll see new opportunities and can rise above former limitations. A personal appearance is on the agenda; you reach a mass audience. A generous humanitarian gesture pays off. Aries plays a key role.

Aquarius – Saturn in your 11th house – this months accent is on family and community affairs. Be willing to play the role of master diplomat. Lavish entertainment could be spoiled by warring factions unless you step in and settle issues. Taurus wants to dominate, but will listen to reason. Number 6 brings luck.

Pisces – Venus conjunct Neptune in the 1st house – an aura of secrecy surrounds your personal affairs. You’ll be told the inside story of someone close to your heart. Be compassionate, even if details go against your ideals. You can inspire another person now through your insight into problems. A Pisces is helpful.

Psychicdeb has been a professional astrologer for over 25 yrs. Self-taught, she began her studies in astrology when she was 8 yrs. old learning what she could from her mother’s astrology magazines. As she got older and learned geometry, she searched for books on Astrology and taught herself how to construct a chart. She teaches Astrology for a nominal fee. Psychicdeb also uses the tarot to do psychic readings channeling her spirit guide Helen. Reiki is one of her obsessions. She is a Reiki Master and loves to teach others the benefits of Reiki. Namaste. Call 516-783-6771 for an appointment in her private office. Or you can find her at the Original Psychic Fairs on Sundays. A listing of the Fair dates can be found on her website at: www.astro-mate.org or join the Facebook page: The Original Long Island Psychic Fair

Top 10 Long Island Reddit Posts of 2016

Reddit Long Island

Every year the Press publishes a list of the top Long Island stories of the year—which we did again this year—among other end-of-the-year delights.

But in this social media-obsessed age we figured to add another stocking stuffer—yeah, we tend to be late with gifts—to your collection of news-related presents, dear reader.

So in the spirit of the New Year and our always-confounding digital age, we give you the top 10 Long Island Reddit stories.

A piece of advice: Prepare yourselves, folks, this list may be unlike any other listicle (another name for pseudo-journalism) you’ve ever seen. If you’re familiar with Reddit, the shock value may be considerably less overwhelming.

In any event, it’s interesting to view Long Island through the lens of social media, where the most serious stories get buried in constantly changing algorithms, and where easily digestible pleasure pieces—like bite-sized pieces of blueberry pie—rule the day.

You’ve been warned:

Reddit Montauk Lighthouse

10. Coming in at No. 10 with 127 “upvotes” is a photo titled “Took a little flight out by Montauk,” which was submitted after Christmas yet still managed to pierce the top 10. As you can imagine, the photo is an overhead look at the historic Montauk lighthouse. We’re none the wiser regarding whether any filters were involved in the creation of this photo, but the surrounding water is a mesmerizing wintry azure. Down below, there’s no sign of life. Maybe the not-so-secret government-run telekinesis/time travel lab has something to do with it. Just sayin’. #post-truth

Reddit Cream Cheese Bagel

9. A problem gripping bagel connoisseurs everywhere. (Disclaimer: By “everywhere” we mean New York—downstate NY, specifically. No such person exists anywhere else on the planet.) In what amounts to a near catastrophe, this Reddit user posted a bagel with the caption “Light on the cream cheese, please.” Of course, the kind employee behind the counter did the total opposite and stuffed that baby like a turkey on Thanksgiving. Indeed, the struggle is real.

Reddit Woman Pumping Gas

8. Sometimes people just don’t give an F. A photo of a woman pumping gas wouldn’t usually inspire thousands of views, but this one did. A woman in red, or orange, it doesn’t matter, parked her Mercedes in between two pumps, making it nearly impossible for any other vehicle to fit. It’s like when you’re at Roosevelt Field Mall and you’re delighted at what appears to be an open spot, only to discover it’s a tease because some other idiot encroached on the neighboring spot. And people wonder why road rage is a thing.

Reddit Cat

7. We don’t know what to make of this one. Seriously, just click on the damn link.

Reddit Drew Carey

6. Apparently meme’s rule everything around us—and so does the Long Island Rail Road. Alas, this won’t be the only LIRR-related complaint you see in this list. One LIRR rider was so fed up he/she grabbed a photo of Drew Carey from Whose Line is it Anyway with the words: “Welcome to the Long Island Rail Road, where the schedules are made up and the words ‘on time’ don’t matter. Why act this one out when you can just head over to the nearest train station and experience this all-too common occurrence first hand?

Reddit Farmingdale High School

5. Kids. F’n kids. One Reddit user captured apparent Farmingdale High School seniors littering the hell out of Tobay Beach one day in May and was so incensed they captioned the photo: “Farmingdale HS Seniors are a F@$king Disgrace.” That may be a bit harsh, but disposing of your Solo cups all over our precious beaches is environmental cruelty personified.

Reddit Long Island

4. Stereotypes abound with this one.

Reddit Turn Signal

3. We’re LMFAO-ing over here. We’ve all been stuck behind drivers who fail to signal—or equally infuriating, leave their signal on after completing the act of switching lanes—and pounded at our dashboard. Try switching your turn signal on and off, folks.

Reddit Drew Carey

2. How lovely, we have another Drew Carey sighting. Following the No. 6 spot’s footsteps is yet another LIRR grievance. “Welcome to the LIRR,” the meme deadpans, “where the fares are too high and time doesn’t matter…”

Reddit Johnny Depp

1. You guessed it: It’s the LIRR. The top LI Reddit post of 2016 is a gif of a wobbly Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean waddling off screen. The caption: “MRW (my reaction when) I’m in Penn Station and I’m waiting for the platform number to generate for the LIRR at 5 p.m.” We’ve all been there.

Carrie Fisher, Best Known as ‘Princess Leia,’ Dies After Suffering Heart Attack

Famed Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher died on Tuesday, according to reports. She was 60 years old.

Best known for her dynamic performance as Princess Leia in the intergalactic Star Wars films, Fisher suffered cardiac arrest aboard a flight on Friday.

Fisher’s death was announced by a family spokesperson in a statement to People magazine.

“She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly,” the statement read. “Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Fisher died at 8:55 a.m., according to the statement.

Fisher had been flying from London to Los Angeles when she suffered a heart attack. At what point of the flight she fell ill still remained unclear.

Fisher was hospitalized immediately after the flight had landed and had been placed in an intensive care unit. She remained in ICU on Sunday, when her mother, Debbie Reynolds, wrote on her Facebook account that her daughter was listed in “stable condition.”

“To all her friends and fans, I thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.”

Fisher’s co-star, Mark Hamill, who played the role of Luke Skywalker, had a short message for his followers upon hearing about his friend’s death:

Although Fisher appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, her role as Princess Leia, beginning with Star Wars: Episode IV, earned her iconic status. Fisher reprised the role to complete the trilogy and was reunited with the cast of the space epics last year in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, much to the delight of fans across the galaxy.

As news of her passing made its way across social media, fans poured in condolences. Among the tributes was the ubiquitous slogan from Star Wars: “May the force be with you.”

Other than stepping back into the iconic sci-fi universe that made her famous, Fisher had appeared in the comedy Catastrophe and was the voice of Angela in Family Guy.”

Top 10 Long Island News Stories of 2016

2016 news

Whether it’s lingering heartbreak over the presidential election result or the deaths of beloved icons such as Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali or Leonard Cohen, few are sad to bid farewell to 2016.

Sure, it had its bright spots both nationally and locally. Among these: WNBA All Star, US women’s basketball captain and Syosset native Sue Bird won her fourth consecutive gold from the Rio 2016 Olympics, and two medical marijuana dispensaries opened on Long Island—providing much-needed relief for certified patients with serious conditions following a long-fought fight to legalize its use in New York State.

But these stories didn’t make the cut as the biggest local news events of the year. What follows are the top 10 Long Island stories of 2016.

10. History for Hofstra
In a showdown that drew record ratings, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton squared off in the first of three presidential debates at Hofstra University. For Hofstra, it was the third consecutive debate it had hosted in as many presidential elections, which was a first for any host. For America, it was a Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em affair in which the rivals proclaimed demonstrably different beliefs. Trump talked about instituting “stop-and-frisk” across the nation despite a court striking down the controversial police procedure as unconstitutional and nixing such trade deals as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Clinton said she’d work to build the economy from the bottom up and questioned her competitor’s temperament. Outside the debate, the atmosphere was both festive and chaotic. Nassau County police removed Green Party candidate Jill Stein from Hofstra’s grounds and made two dozen arrests as thousands along Hempstead Turnpike demonstrated for minimum wage hikes, women’s rights and climate change—a dire global issue that went unmentioned on the debate stage.

9. New Bishop in Town
While much of the media gushed over Long Island’s new bishop’s apparent basketball prowess during his introductory press conference earlier this month, Bishop John O. Barres will be judged not on his ball-handling skills but how he leads the Rockville Centre Diocese—the sixth-largest Catholic diocese in the nation, with 1.3 million baptized—through difficult times. According to the Pew Research Center, Americans are increasingly becoming less religious, with the percentage of religious “nones”—the name academics have given for those who are agnostic—comprising nearly 25 percent of the nation. Meanwhile, during that same time period (2007-2014), the number of people who identify as Christian dropped from 78 to 71 percent. Barres, 56, is replacing outgoing Bishop William Murphy, who is retiring after 15 years at the helm of the diocese. Pope Francis appointed Barres to his new position after he led the diocese in Allentown, Pa. He takes over on Jan. 31.

8. Disappointment 101
Dowling College students learned harsh life lessons in reliability when their 48-year-old alma mater in Oakdale gave three days’ notice in June that it planned to close its classroom doors forever shortly after its last graduation ceremony. The administration then led the private, nonprofit liberal arts college on a summer-long academic train wreck when it just as abruptly reversed its decision to close as it clung to hope that a buyer would bail it out. But it was the end of the line when Dowling’s oversight agency, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, voted to withdraw accreditation for the college following a two-year review. Dowling leaders then reversed course a second time and decided to close the school, capping a decade-long downward spiral of unstable leadership, mounting debt and declining student enrollment. The college has since filed for bankruptcy and is expected to auction off its two campuses.

7. Bet on Islandia
Three years after New York State authorized Nassau and Suffolk OTBS to build mini-casinos, Islandia village did what nobody was willing to and approved construction of the first such facility on Long Island when it opens in February, barring any roadblocks. The Suffolk OTB Islandia Casino at the Marriott Hotel will have 1,000 video gaming terminals run by Buffalo-based hospitality company Delaware North. Islandia officials approved the controversial plan during a special meeting on a Friday morning in August, outraging residents, who filed a lawsuit in September to block the casino out of fear that it will increase traffic and crime. After facing identical protests and litigation to the west, Nassau Downs OTB folded its mini-casino plans and reportedly struck a revenue-sharing agreement that transferred the rights to 1,000 gaming terminals to Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens.

6. Cablevision’s Reign Ends
European telecom giant Altice completed its $17.7 billion takeover of Cablevision in July. The enormous sale gives Altice’s American subsidiary, Altice USA, 3.1 million new subscribers, on top of the 1.5 million customers of Suddenlink Communications in St. Louis, Missouri—making it the fourth-largest cable operator in the United States. For Long Islanders, the sale also invited speculation about the fate of Newsday, the Island’s lone daily newspaper, which Cablevision owned along with amNewYork and News 12. Shortly after the deal closed, the paper announced that Patrick Dolan, president of News 12 Networks, had acquired 75-percent of Newsday Media Group, with Altice USA holding onto a 25-percent stake in the media company. Patrick Dolan is the son of Charles Dolan, the family patriarch and founder of the since-sold telecom company. The Dolan family still owns Madison Square Garden and the NBA’s Knicks and the NHL’s Rangers.

5. Jail House Rocked
Two years after taking office, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano touted a public-private partnership to save money and close perennial budget gaps by turning inmate health care at the county jail to Florida-based Armor Correctional Health Services. Five years later, Mangano is facing prison for allegedly taking bribes from another county contractor (more on that later), the New York State Commission on Correction issued reports suggesting Armor contributed to the death of several inmates and the state attorney general sued the company for not fulfilling its contract. The company was fined $350,000 and was barred from bidding on jail contracts in New York for three years as a part of a settlement. Several other lawsuits are pending from the families of inmates who died, one of whom was an Iraq War veteran. And the county is trying to find a new company to provide inmate health care.

4. Trump Stumps
Donald Trump-mania descended on Long Island in April with a packed rally at Grumman Studios in Bethpage that attracted an estimated 12,000 supporters and hundreds who demonstrated outside. At the first of two rallies he’d hold on LI, Trump led his fans on his oft-used campaign chant: “Who’s going to pay for it?” the businessman and reality TV star asked, referring to a wall at the southern border. “Mexico!” the crowd shouted. Outside protesters condemned Trump for his hard-line position on immigration, calls to ban non-US Muslims from entering the United States and misogynistic behavior. A similar scene played out several weeks later in Patchogue, where Trump hosted a smaller yet impassioned rally at a concert venue, just blocks from the slaying of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero—a hate crime that revealed deep fissures in the community. Immigrant advocacy groups and religious leaders decried Trump for holding a rally so close to the site of Lucero’s murder. Trump’s outreach to Long Island may have played dividends in the election, with the GOP candidate taking the majority of the vote in Suffolk County.

3. Orlando Shooter, Victim’s LI Connection
The horrific slaying of 49 people inside a gay nightclub in Orlando this summer reverberated across the country and especially on Long Island, which is home to a large and close-knit LGBT community. That the homophobic murders of dozens of young people felt incredibly poignant for many was not the only reason LI became part of the story. As it turned out, Omar Mateen, the deranged gunman, spent his early childhood in Westbury—the same town that alleged al Qaeda propagandist Samir Khan called home before moving to North Carolina. (Khan was killed in a drone strike in Yemen.) One of the victims who survived Mateen’s massacre, Marissa Delgado, reportedly grew up in Glen Cove and later moved to Orlando. The attack on the nightclub was the worst mass shooting by a single gunman in US history. The shooting occurred on the eve of gay pride parades across the country, including on LI.

2. Body Count Rises in Brentwood
In the deadliest month in Brentwood in seven years, six victims of gang violence—mostly teenagers—were found dead there in a five-week span. Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16, were first found dead on Sept. 13. Days later, police unearthed the skeletal remains of 19-year-old Oscar Acosta, who was reported missing under suspicious circumstances in May, and 15-year-old Miguel Moran. All four were Brentwood High School students. Then on Oct. 13, Dewann A.S. Stacks, 34, was killed on American Boulevard. On Oct. 17, police found the body of 18-year-old Jose Pena-Hernandez, an alleged MS-13 gang member from Brentwood who was reported missing in June. Police said MS-13 involvement is suspected in some cases and sources said the gang is responsible for all six. Police said they have made arrests in a gang crackdown, but haven’t released names or charges of the suspects.

1. Tammany Island
Together, they read like the verse of a Billy Joel song. Thomas Spota, Jimmy Burke, Dean Skelos, Edward Walsh, John Venditto, Ippolito, Ed & Linda Mangano. We didn’t start the fire! What do they all have in common? Getting the attention of federal law enforcement this year, of course. Nassau County Executive Mangano, his wife, Linda, and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Venditto all pleaded not guilty in October to an alleged bribery scheme. The county exec rebuffed calls to resign and Venditto hasn’t said if he will or not, either. Ex-Oyster Bay Planning Commissioner Fred Ippolito was sentenced in September to 2 years in prison for not reporting $2 million in income on his taxes. Ex-Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Ed Walsh is appealing his March fraud conviction for golfing, gambling and politicking when he was on the clock at his job as a corrections lieutenant. Expelled New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was sentenced in May to five years in prison but remains free while he appeals his conviction for extortion, fraud and soliciting bribes. Disgraced Suffolk Police Chief James Burke was sentenced last month to 46 months in prison for beating a suspect and orchestrating a cover up that resulted in several of his subordinates being charged and convicted. And Burke’s mentor, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota, rebuffed calls to resign in May following reports that his top corruption prosecutor is the target of federal public corruption investigators.

Who’s next? Guess we’ll find out in 2017.

Trump’s Republican Makeover In 140 Characters Or Less

Donald Trump Child Care

By Arnold Dodge

The tweeter-in-chief, predictably, is at it again. Even after his Electoral College victory, his Twitter feed continues, his followers hungry for more. Making both domestic and foreign policy tweets in reaction to any and all criticism, he has captured the imagination of junior high school children everywhere. They, too, can someday be president if all it takes is a sentence fragment and a nasty tone.

As we await the Inauguration Day ritual, let’s imagine Trump—at that point able to communicate in tweet-style only—taking the oath of office:

@RealDonaldTrump I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preser-

That’s all he could tweet, folks. 140 characters is not a fake news barrier. It’s a real limitation, even for the President-elect. Tweeting?  Good or bad? Actually, neither.  You can’t blame the medium, it’s the message. Or more importantly, the messenger.

Trump’s twitter lexicon is already filled with assaults on individuals and take-downs of institutions. At times juvenile, at other times vicious, these bursts of phlegm—often crafted at 3 a.m.—are laced with racism, misogyny, xenophobia and threats to democracy. He has insulted scores of journalists, dozens of media outlets, politicians, women, union leaders, union members, the U.S. government, the CIA, immigrants, Mexicans, federal judges and celebrities. And the list goes on.

But we don’t have to take it lying down. Here’s a torrent of tweets—on Trump’s favorite topics—that we should have at the ready at 4 a.m. All it takes is vigilance on our part—and a working Twitter account—to tweet truth to power:

On authority:

@EugeneVDebs In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both, to deceive and overawe the People.

@SamuelAdams How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!

@AynRand Power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind

On women:

@MahatmaGandhi Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex

@LucreticaMott The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of women the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source

@AbhijitNaskar “Man is the master of Woman” — this statement may have been a glorious fact of primitive life in the wild, but it is nothing but an obnoxious stain on the psyche of the thinking humanity

On race:

@RosaParks Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and hopefully, we shall overcome

@PierreBerton Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and destroy. It is the enemy of freedom, and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out

@E.B.White Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.

On the “other”:

@StephenVincentBenet Remember that when you say ‘I will have none of this exile and this stranger for his face is not like my face and his speech is strange,’ you have denied America with that word

@BertrandRussell Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd

@EmmaLazarus (given a pass on the 140-character limit, because Statue of Liberty.)
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

But the wisdom of poets and philosophers, people certainly tagged by Trump as “low energy,” may not be able to withstand the next wave of madness.

After launching salvos against those on his very own enemies’ list, Trump has now dumped his tweets in the global arena. Confusing, contradictory and ill-informed, his texts now confound nations.

After taking a phone call from Taiwan’s president, Trump tweeted:


The press jumped on the story, bewildered that the president-elect would violate a 40-year ban on official conversations with Taiwanese leaders. Wouldn’t this jeopardize the one-China policy, a compact that holds together the tense relationship between two global giants?

His surrogates—including the vice-president elect—quickly parried. They scolded the media for their over-reaction. It was just a damn congratulations call!

On cue, the boss unleashed a couple of beauties:




Watch out, world. There’s a new sheriff in town. And he’s a man of few words.

Trump’s abject ignorance of geo-politics and his impulsive middle-of-the-night messaging (fancying himself a global, pre-dawn tribune) portends a dangerous, maybe catastrophic, spasm in the bowels of an already tense and scary world.

What’s next? It could be this:

@realDonaldTrump So sorry about the nuclear air strike CNN. Wolf Blitzer – aka lyin’ Wolf – says 10,000 lives lost. No more than 5,000 for sure! All those interviews with survivors. Bunch of crybabies.

Improbable? Yes.

Ruled out completely? No.

We should have seen this coming. Here’s a 2013 tweet from our President-elect:


The Party of Lincoln may never recover.

(Featured photo credit: Michael Vadon/flickr)

Arnold Dodge, PhD, is an associate professor of education at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University, where he serves as the chairperson of the Department of Educational Leadership and Administration. Dr. Dodge is a former teacher, principal and superintendent. In his 45th year in education, he is particularly focused on the effects of high-stakes testing on schools.

Several Suffolk Cops Charged in Burke Beating & Cover-Up Case, Docs Show

James Burke Suffolk County Police
Disgraced former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke was arrested by federal agents Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015 and indicted on civil rights violations and conspiracy charges. (Long Island Press)

By Timothy Bolger and Christopher Twarowski

Several Suffolk County Police Department members were indicted and pleaded guilty to unspecified charges stemming from the case against James Burke, the disgraced ex-chief who admitted to beating a suspect, recently filed court documents show.

The revelation came in a court motion filed Wednesday in state Supreme Court by Garden City-based attorney Bruce Barket, who represents Christopher Loeb, a Smithtown man that Burke beat after police arrested Loeb for stealing from Burke four years ago. Barket is trying to get Loeb’s conviction vacated since Loeb’s confession was coerced and police perjured themselves when Burke ordered subordinates to lie to cover-up the beating, according to the documents.

“Numerous other members of the Suffolk County Police Department have been indicted, and have pled guilty, to crimes committed against Loeb in connection with this incident,” Barket wrote in the motion. “Their identities have not yet been disclosed, and their files are currently sealed because the investigation is still ongoing.”

Related: Ex-Suffolk Police Chief James Burke Pleads Guilty To Beating Suspect, Coverup

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York declined to comment. Suffolk police distanced themselves from those involved.

“No one currently employed by the Suffolk County Police Department has pled guilty to any crimes in connection with Christopher Loeb,” Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers said in a statement, indicating that the indicted officers and detectives left the force prior to their convictions.

Cited within the recent court filing are the testimonies of several Suffolk County Police Department personnel, including detectives Thomas Cottingham, Kenneth Reggensberg, Christopher Nealis, Keith Sinclair, Anthony Leto, and Police Officers Michael Kelly and Brian Draiss.

The case dates back to December 2012, when Loeb—then a 24-year-old heroin addict who was on probation for prior thefts—stole a gym bag containing pornography, sex toys, a gun belt, cigars and other items from Burke’s parked, unoccupied police-issued SUV. The next morning, police and probation officers searched Loeb’s home, arrested him for possession of brass knuckles—discovered during a prior probation search more than a month earlier—and took him to the Fourth Precinct station house, where he was handcuffed and beaten in an interrogation room. Burke took his bag back when it was found in Loeb’s home.

Wednesday’s motion, while making the case for vacating Loeb’s convictions, gives additional insight into the 2012 incident and the roles of Burke and other Suffolk officers in the attack and subsequent cover-up.

“Under the guise of a ‘probation search’ incident to arrest, police conducted a warrantless search at Christopher Loeb’s home to recover a duffel bag containing pornography and a gun belt that had been stolen from Chief of Police James Burke’s car,” it states. “During the search, police tampered with physical evidence, arranged and ‘recreated’ the evidence at the scene for crime scene photographs, and allowed Burke—the purported crime victim—unfettered access to Loeb’s home and the evidence, which Burke was permitted to remove from the scene before it was inventoried.”

Related: Retired Suffolk Police Chief James Burke Arrested, Indicted For Civil Rights Abuses & Coverup

Although Loeb was arrested in his backyard at about 9:35 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2012, the court papers continue, police and probation officers participated in a search of his home, boxing up toys, electronics, identification cards and other property that appeared to be stolen, and packing it into police cars. They concluded the search at about 11:30 a.m. and were about to leave when detectives from the Suffolk County Criminal Intelligence Section arrived inquiring about “police-related” items.

The Intelligence Detectives were told that PBA cards were recovered, according to the legal filing, and police ordered all the items seized to be returned to Loeb’s bedroom and the evidence re-arranged throughout the room in an attempt to “recreate the scene,” before being photographed. Chief Burke was “escorted” throughout the house, it continues, and allowed to tamper with and remove evidence, including all his sex toys and porn collection.

“At the precinct, where Loeb was kept for the next forty-eight hours without being arraigned, Burke and other members of the Suffolk County Police Department repeatedly punched Loeb in the head and ribs, choked him until he lost consciousness, ignored his requests for counsel, threatened to kill him, and arrest and rape his mother to extract confessions from him, and entered false information into official police logs to conceal their misconduct,” Wednesday’s court filing continue.

Subsequently, Burke congratulated those involved, even bragging to others about his attack, later stating it reminded him of his “old days” as a young police officer, and referring to detectives who were present during the assault as his “palace guards.”

Burke also summoned to his office all those who’d witnessed his assault, intent on getting everyone’s “stories straight,” states the recent court documents, and telling the witnesses “that they should agree that he merely ‘popped’ his head in to look at Loeb at the precinct, but that otherwise, nothing happened.”

Related: Ex-SCPD Chief James Burke Denied Bail in Brutality-Coverup Case

After Loeb moved to suppress the physical evidence and his statements as a result of the constitutional violations perpetrated by the police, the motion contends, “half-a-dozen police and probation officers lied under oath at the suppression hearing held before this court, but were found credible, resulting in denial of Loeb’s motions to suppress.”

“It was in this posture that Loeb pled guilty to charges that he stole and possessed Chief Burke’s gun belt and ammunition; and even then, he did so while protesting the gross violation of his constitutional rights that had gone unremedied by the court,” it adds.

Following a federal investigation into the incident, Burke was indicted in 2015, pleaded guilty in February to violating Loeb’s civil rights and conspiring to obstruct justice before he was sentenced last month to 46 months in federal prison. Loeb is nearing completion of a three-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty in 2014 to a weapons possession charge in connection with the case.

Burke’s admission and the aforementioned indictments of other Suffolk law enforcement members, argues Barket’s motion, renders Loeb’s plea invalid and justifies vacating Loeb’s convictions.

Reports of the indictments came a week after a female escort held a news conference to allege that Burke paid her for sex during a drug-fueled Oak Beach house party in the summer of 2011. Burke’s attorney called the claims “false and slanderous.”

Escort Claims Ex-SCPD Chief Burke Paid Her For Sex At Oak Beach Drug Party

Burke Prostitute Oak Beach Gilgo
Leanna, an escort (L), tells reporters that ex-Suffolk Police Chief James Burke hired her in 2011 during a drug-fueled Oak Beach house party, with John Ray (R), a Miller Place-based attorney, during a news conference to discuss the allegations on Dec. 15, 2016. (Long Island Press / Christopher Twarowski)

By Christopher Twarowski and Timothy Bolger

A 30-year-old escort claimed Thursday that disgraced ex-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke paid her for sex during a cocaine-fueled house party in Oak Beach five years ago.

The brunette woman held a news conference to discuss the allegations along with Miller Place-based attorney John Ray, who represents the family of Shannan Gilbert, whose disappearance from the seaside community in May 2010 led to the discovery of the Long Island Serial Killer’s nearby dumping grounds and 10 sets of human remains. Ray stated that the new information from his client implicates Burke not only in Gilbert’s demise, but also in all those victims’.

“It is the first time that a direct connection between Burke, prostitution and Oak Beach has been made,” said Ray, who represents Gilbert’s family in a lawsuit against Dr. Peter Hackett, a former Oak Beach resident and ex-police surgeon that the family has accused of causing Gilbert’s death. “This is a significant connection.”

“It certainly puts [Burke] right at the center of the pool of suspects for the death of Shannan Gilbert and the other [women],” he continued.

Burke was sentenced last month to 46 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to beating Christopher Loeb, a handcuffed suspect that stole his gym bag containing his gun, sex toys and porn from the ex-chief’s SUV and ordering subordinates to cover up the station house assault. Burke was documented to have had patronized sex workers, the Press has reported. After the ex-chief was indicted, federal prosecutor James Miskiewicz said in December that Burke’s porn collection was his “motivation for beating the hell out of Loeb.”

Burke’s lawyer, Joseph Conway, issued a statement Thursday deeming Ray’s claims “more as tabloid journalism than credible news. Today’s alleged witness and her attorney know full well that any credible witness and any credible information should be provided to the proper Law Enforcement officials and not done via a press conference. All of the allegations raised today are false and slanderous.

“Any claims or allegations that James Burke had any involvement in the Gilgo Beach murders is completely outrageous,” Conway’s statement continued. “Mr. Burke was not only the highest ranking Suffolk County Police Officer but also one of the most decorated officers in the history of the department. While he has admitted to his crime involving violation of civil rights and governmental obstruction, there is absolutely not one shred of evidence linking him to the Gilgo beach case. To think otherwise is preposterous.”

The female sex worker, who identified herself only as Leanne, said that she first met Burke during an Oak Beach house party in June 2011, where she saw cocaine being passed around and “observed [Burke] pull a woman by her hair to the ground,” she said in a sworn statement. Two months later, she met Burke at another party at the same house.

“We attempted to have sex together in the bathroom there, but Jimmy Burke was unable to consummate the sex act,” she said in the statement. “This made him extremely angry. He insisted upon oral sex, which was given. He then called me a whore.”

During the news conference, she told reporters that she didn’t know Burke’s identity at the parties other than that he was a high-ranking Suffolk County police official, and she went along with him because she’s a forensic science major who hoped he could help advance her career.

When Burke couldn’t perform yet again, she said, he became extremely aggressive.

“It was so aggressive that my eyes teared, not from crying,” she said, but from gag reflexes, describing the experience as dehumanizing. She said Burke then threw $300 at her. Leanne said it was the first time she was paid for sex.

She believes that she saw Joseph Brewer, the last client to hire Gilbert, at one of the parties, too. Brewer has since sold his Oak Beach home and moved away.

Leanne learned Burke’s true identity, she told reporters, from a friend after the second encounter, and again recognized him on TV after his arrest for beating Loeb. She said she later contacted police with a tip about an Oak Beach resident that she said could be a person of interest in the Long Island Serial Killer case, and told reporters that police had informed that man about her tip. That’s when she contacted Josh Zeman and Rachel Mills, filmmakers of The Killing Season, a docu-series about the LISK case that recently aired on A&E. The duo put her in touch with Ray.

Gilbert’s body was found in an Oak Beach marsh in December of 2011, several months after Leanne and Burke’s alleged encounter. County medical examiners ruled Gilbert’s cause of death inconclusive, and police said they suspect that she drowned, but her case remains an open investigation, a police spokesman said Thursday. The family had a second autopsy performed, which suggested that Gilbert may have been strangled.

Police were searching for Gilbert when they found the first of 10 sets of human remains along Ocean Parkway in the LISK case six years ago this week, in December 2010. Among those discovered were Megan Waterman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Amber Lynn Costello, Melissa Barthelemy—who had all advertised themselves as escorts on Craigslist and been found wrapped in burlap—the head, hands and forearm of Jessica Taylor, whose mutilated body was found in Manorville in 2003; an unidentified woman dubbed “Fire Island Jane Doe,” whose legs washed up on Blue Point Beach in 1996 and whose skull was discovered on Ocean Parkway; another unidentified woman dubbed Jane Doe No. 6, whose head, hands and right foot were matched with another torso in Manorville; a young Asian male; and the remains of another unidentified woman nicknamed Jane Doe No. 3 until recently, who was matched through DNA to a young infant, known as “Baby Doe,” also disposed of there.

Investigators have said that the victims may have been killed by two or more assailants.

Asked this month if the police any closer to naming a suspect, they declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Burke, a 30-year police department veteran, was just 14 years old when he was a witness in the murder case of John Pius, Jr., a 13-year-old from Smithtown whom classmates suffocated with rocks in 1979 for stealing a dirt bike. Following a short stint in the New York City Police Department and his time as a patrolman and undercover narcotics officer in the Suffolk County Police Department, he spent a decade as chief investigator under Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, the former chief prosecutor in the Pius case.

Spota’s office is currently under federal investigation for corruption.

Burke was the subject of a 1995 Internal Affairs investigation that concluded allegations he “engaged in a personal, sexual relationship” with “a convicted felon known to be actively engaged in criminal conduct including the possession and sale of illegal drugs, prostitution and larceny,” “engaged in sexual acts in police vehicles while on duty and in uniform,” and “failed to safeguard his service weapon and other departmental property” were “substantiated,” according to its report.

Burke received promotions rather than discipline, however, ascending through SCPD’s ranks until he reached its top uniformed position despite his improprieties—a rise facilitated by Spota and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who appointed Burke police chief in 2012.

Burke has been criticized for stymieing FBI efforts to assist in the Long Island Serial Killer case—and also pulling Suffolk County detectives off the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force in 2012.

Leanne and Ray’s press conference Thursday came just days after another update in the Long Island Serial Killer case: that authorities had linked the torso of an unidentified woman, discovered 19 years ago in Hempstead Lake State Park and dubbed “Peaches” due to a peach tattoo with a bite taken out of it, through DNA, with the skeletal remains of Jane Doe No. 3, thus also identifying Peaches as Baby Doe’s mother.

Ray said that Leanne’s affidavit on Burke’s alleged actions on Oak Beach would enable the attorney eventually to examine Suffolk’s disgraced police chief “under oath.”

When asked why she decided to go public with her allegations now, Leanne told reporters:

“Because that could be my grave—that could have been my grave. This is bigger than me. Yeah, so what, I’m on the news… But if in some way I’m able to identify a child that doesn’t even have a name yet, or give Megan Waterman’s mom some closure, I don’t care about my name.”

Featured Photo: Leanne, an escort (L), tells reporters that ex-Suffolk Police Chief James Burke hired her in 2011 during a drug-fueled Oak Beach house party, with John Ray (R), a Miller Place-based attorney, during a news conference to discuss the allegations on Dec. 15, 2016. (Long Island Press / Christopher Twarowski)