Timothy Bolger

Timothy Bolger is the Managing Editor for the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.

Brentwood Shooting Kills 1, Wounds Another

A 24-year-old man was shot and killed in his hometown of Brentwood and a second victim was wounded in the same shooting on Saturday night, Suffolk County police said.

Officers responded to a 911 call reporting shots fired on Gibson Avenue, where they found Kenneth Evans and another man injured at 10:50 p.m., police said.

Both men were taken to a local hospital, where Evans was pronounced dead and the other man, only identified as a Brentwood resident in his 20s was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information on the shooting to call them at 631-852-6394 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

Port Jefferson Station Man Charged With Fatal Drugged-driving Crash

A man was arrested for allegedly driving while high on drugs and causing a crash that killed a 56-year-old motorcyclist in Coram, Suffolk County police said.

Sabelo Ndala
Sabelo Ndala

Sabelo Ndala, 22, of Port Jefferson Station, was driving a Volkswagen Jetta southbound on Old Town Road when he struck a northbound Harley Davidson while Ndala was making a left turn onto Hyson Way at 1:55 p.m. Saturday, police said.

The motorcyclist, Thomas Heissen Buttel, of South Setauket, was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Ndala, who was not injured, was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, operating a motor vehicle without an interlock device and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. He will be arraigned Sunday at First District Court in Central Islip.

Both vehicles were for safety checks. Vehicular Crime Unit detectives impounded both vehicles, are continuing the investigation and ask anyone who may have witnessed the crash to call them at 631-852-6555.

Wyandanch Vacant House Fire Kills 1

A person was found dead following an abandoned house fire in Wyandanch early Saturday morning.

Suffolk County police said officers and firefighters responded to a 911 call reporting a fire at a boarded up house on Irving Avenue at 2 a.m.

Wyandanch Fire Department firefighters extinguished the flames and the body of a person was found inside the residence.

The body was taken to the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office to determine the identity and cause of death.

Homicide Squad and Arson Section detectives are continuing the investigation but have preliminarily determined the cause of the fire to be non-criminal.

2 Dead in Inwood BMW Crash With Garbage Truck

Two people died after the BMW they were in was involved in a fiery crash with a garbage truck in Inwood early Saturday morning.

Nassau County police said the BMW heading southbound on Sheridan Boulevard when it collided with a westbound garbage truck at the corner of Bayview Avenue, causing both vehicles to become engulfed in flames at 4:15 a.m.

Inwood Fire Department firefighters extinguished the flames. The two people in the BMW were pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck driver was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Detectives are continuing the investigation.

Lawrence Crash Leaves Pedestrian Dead

An 82-year-old Florida man was fatally hit by a vehicle while crossing a road in Lawrence on Friday evening.

Nassau County police said Theodore Schiffman, of Boca Raton, was crossing Nassau Expressway at the corner of Broadway when he was struck by a southbound Dodge at 5:45 p.m.

The victim was taken to a local hospital, where he died three hours later.

Homicide Squad detectives tested the vehicle and did not charge the 66-year-old man driving the vehicle.

Southampton Councilman Pleads Guilty to Selling Rx

A Southampton Town councilman resigned his post and admitted to illegally selling prescription painkillers over a three-year span.

Bradley Bender pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to illegally distribute oxycodone at Central Islip federal court.

“Councilman Bender’s actions in this oxycodone distribution conspiracy victimized the very community he was entrusted to represent,” said Attorney Capers, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Prosecutors said the 52-year-old Northampton man received phony prescriptions for oxycodone from a Riverhead physician assistant, Michael Troyan, filled those prescriptions, and illegally exchanged the oxycodone pills for cash and steroids with another co-conspirator between July 2012 and June of this year.

Bender was arrested Nov. 4. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Skelos Corruption Trial: Exec Said He Had No Choice in Doubling Adam Skelos’ Pay

Adam Skelos (left) and his father state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) are on trial in Manhattan.

An environmental company executive said he had no choice but to more than double the $4,000 a month he was paying a consultant whose father is New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).

AbTech Industries, an Arizona-based environmental technology company, needed to meet the $10,000 a month demands from the senator’s son, Adam Skelos, or risk losing its biggest contract, a $12-million deal to install smart sponge filters in Nassau County storm water drainage pipes, according to the executive.

“I did not believe we had any choice,” Glenn Rink, chief executive officer of AbTech, testified Tuesday during the senator and son’s corruption trial at Manhattan federal court. “The last thing I wanted to do is alienate…the senator.”

AbTech is one of three companies that the former state Senate Majority Leader allegedly coerced to get $300,000 in bribes in the form of no-show jobs that his son, Adam, was unqualified for in exchange for illegally manipulating legislation. Both Skeloses deny the accusations.

Rink said he was especially concerned about appeasing both men since AbTech needed the senator’s help in getting state legislative approval to complete the Nassau contract. That’s because under state law, government projects need to be designed by one company and constructed by another, but Nassau’s deal with AbTech called for what’s known as a design-build contract allowing the company to do both.

But after delays in getting Nassau to pay for the work it had done in preparing to install the filters and Adam’s failure to secure contracts with additional municipalities, the company considered cutting his pay, but it was reluctant because it still needed the design-build legislation approved by the senator.

“There was always the concern that if we altered his compensation,” then AbTech projects in the pipeline “could be in harm’s way,” Rink testified.

The concern came after Rink got an email from Charles Durego, general counsel and senior vice president at developer Glenwood Management Corp., which is owned by billionaire Leonard Litwin, whose family invested in AbTech. Durego previously testified at the Skelos trial that he had gotten Adam a job at AbTech in order to appease the senator as well as respond to Glenwood’s desire to avoid doing business directly with the son of the senator whom they lobbied and relied upon in legislative negotiations.

“He’s hesitant…to do it with the engineers making more money than him,” Durego said in an email to Rink on April 10, 2013, in which Durego relayed Adam’s request for a raise right before the Nassau contract was about to begin the county’s approval process. “If he doesn’t get like a 4 percent commission, I think they don’t think it’s worth pushing through.”

Rink characterized the email as “game changing.” Other AbTech officials who also received the email balked.

“I can’t believe he’s going to try to hold us hostage to renegotiate the contract,” replied Bjornulf White, an AbTech official, in an email to Rink that was shown in court. “The engineers are getting paid for labor hours to do real work. (I think around ~5500 manhours). Unreal.”

The case was adjourned for the Thanksgiving weekend and will resume on Monday morning.

Skelos Corruption Trial: Ex-North Hempstead Pol Testified He Gave Adam Skelos $20K

Adam Skelos (left) and his father state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) are on trial in Manhattan.

A former North Hempstead town councilman said he gave $20,000 to the son of New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) to fulfill an alleged bribe requested by a mutual acquaintance.

The ex-councilman, Tom Dwyer, was one of three officials to take the stand Monday as the corruption trial against the senator and his son, Adam, enters its second week at federal court in Manhattan. The other two officials included Glenn Rink, chief operating officer at AbTech Industries, an environmental technology company, and Joseph Strasburg, president of a landlord advocacy group known as the Rent Stabilization Association (RSA).

“‘This should get Dean off my back,'” Dwyer testified was the response he got from Charles Durego, general counsel and senior vice president at developer Glenwood Management Corp., after he told Durego that he’d done what Durego had asked by giving Adam a check disguised as payment for work that Adam didn’t perform at Dwyer’s title insurance company, American Land Services (ALS).

Dwyer testified that he did as Durego wanted without question because Glenwood was his biggest and most lucrative client—and he didn’t want to lose their business. Dwyer said he thought Durego meant the payment would help Glenwood stay in the state Senate majority leader’s good graces when lobbying the senator on legislation the developer backed.

New Hyde Park-based Glenwood, Arizona-based AbTech and Roslyn-based Physicians Reciprocal Insurers are the three companies that the former state Senate majority leader allegedly coerced $300,000 in bribes from in the form of no-show jobs that his son, Adam, was unqualified for, in exchange for illegally manipulating legislation. Both men deny the accusations.

Dwyer said the payment to Adam was funded by a commission for title insurance work on an real estate transaction unrelated to Glenwood.

“Charlie did not want the payment to Adam to be associated with Glenwood Management,” Dwyer testified. Durego also responded to an email about how the $20,000 was calculated with “not for emails” and later emphasized that point in a phone call, Dwyer recalled.

Dwyer met Adam on Feb. 18, 2013 for lunch at Coolfish, a restaurant in Syosset, to give Adam the check in an envelope without discussing its contents, Dywer testified.

Tatiana Martins, one of the federal prosecutors trying the case asked: “Had Adam Skelos performed any work for that $20,000?”

Dwyer replied: “No.”

Defense attorneys and prosecutors noted that Dwyer had lied to federal investigators when first questioned about the money. Dwyer said he made a “big mistake” because he was “extremely nervous,” but a week later he began cooperating and turned over his emails. The defense also questioned Dwyer if he knew about large title insurance work referral fees given to others besides Adam.

Dwyer had been a North Hempstead town councilman for more than a decade until he resigned in November 2013. He told Newsday at the time that he left office because he was too busy with his outside work and didn’t want to have any conflicts of interest with his consulting business.

During cross examination, Dwyer testified that AbTech officials offered him compensation to be a consultant for the company and find out why Nassau County, which had secured a $12 million contract through Adam, “was not moving quickly.” Dwyer said he learned that the project “wasn’t a priority” for the county.

When Strasburg, the RSA president, took the stand, he testified that Leonard Litwin, the billionaire owner of Glenwood, did not share Strasburg’s view that the 421a program—a tax break for developers—would easily be renewed at the same time RSA was lobbying for rent control laws to be renewed without any changes.

“He actually thought 421a was in jeopardy,” Strasburg testified, recalling his conversation with Litwin.

Rink, CEO and founder of AbTech, took the stand next and recounted how Litwin’s family became investors in his company, which manufactures a product called the smart sponge that removes pollutants from storm water runoff when it’s installed in drainage systems. Rink gave the jury a demonstration of his product, using water he’d contaminated with petroleum products. Martins, the prosecutor, asked that it be noted for the record that the small test tube of water came out clear after passing through the smart sponge.

Rink testified that Durego, who had set AbTech up with Adam, told him that their proposed contract was illegal on the grounds that it offered lobbying on a contingent fee basis. It can only be commission based or a flat fee, Durego said in an email read in court. AbTech and Adam signed the contract after making modifications only for how big of a contract Adam must secure before he’d get a raise from $4,000 monthly to $10,000 monthly.

Rink is scheduled to continue his direct examination Tuesday, when the jury in a separate federal corruption trial against ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) is expected to begin deliberating in the same courthouse.

Central Islip Teen Killed in Crash

A 17-year-old driver was killed when he crashed his car in his hometown of Central Islip on Monday evening.

Suffolk County police said Anthony Fucci was driving a Honda Civic northbound on Lowell Avenue when he lost control of his vehicle and struck a southbound Toyota Sequoia near Satinwood Street at 6:55 p.m.

Fucci was ejected from his Honda. He was taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, where he was pronounced dead.

The other driver, a 33-year-old Central Islip man, and his 4-year-old and 9-year-old sons, were treated for minor injuries at the same hospital.

Third Squad detectives impounded the vehicles, are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information about this crash to call them at 631-854-8352.

Skelos Corruption Trial: State Pol’s Reluctance on Reform Aired

New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) laughed when asked if campaign finance reform might pass the state legislature, a billionaire developer’s lawyer testified at the senator’s corruption trial.

The anecdote was just one of many heard at the trial that showed the way ethics reforms are treated behind the scenes in corruption-prone Albany. In another, the former chair of the state Senate ethics committee, Tony Avella, recalled on the stand that in his role he found it impossible to make real change.

But the real estate industry was most concerned that the state might pass legislation to close the so-called LLC loophole, which allows businesses to skirt campaign donation limits by issuing checks from various limited liability corporations to disguise their source.

“That’s how we get our voice out,” said Charles Durego, general counsel and Senior Vice President at New Hyde Park-based developer Glenwood Management Corp., the biggest political donor statewide, last week during Skelos’ trial at Manhattan federal court.

Glenwood, owned by billionaire Leonard Litwin, is one of three companies that Skelos, the former state Senate Majority Leader, allegedly coerced to get $300,000 in bribes. They took the form of no-show jobs that his son, Adam, was unqualified for in exchange for illegally manipulating legislation. Both men deny the accusations.

Durego said he asked Skelos the LLC loophole question on behalf of the Real Estate Board of New York, a group representing landlords and developers, which was also concerned about the possibility it would pass.

In general, Democrats favor closing the LLC loophole because Republicans mostly benefit from those donations, prosecutors noted, adding that the GOP would rather make illegal other types of donations that Democrats mostly receive. As a result, the reform effort ends in a legislative stalemate.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens), one of the witnesses to testify at the Skelos trial, said that when he joined the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a small group of senate Democrats who caucused with the Republicans in a power-sharing agreement, he was named chair of the Senate ethics committee. First elected in 2011, Avella said that as chair of that committee he quickly learned that talk of ethical reforms in Albany did not see any follow through.

“No bills had ever been referred to that committee, and no bills ever came out of [that] committee,” he said on the stand. When Avella decided to hold a hearing on the issue instead, he was told it had to be postponed.

Even now, with both Skelos and his former counterpart, ex-Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), on trial for similar but unrelated corruption charges in the same courthouse at the same time, state lawmakers remain reluctant to pass any additional proposed reforms, such as enacting term limits or stripping convicted lawmakers of their pensions, beyond making a few changes to disclosing outside income which passed earlier this year.

Last week, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx), Silver’s replacement, told reporters that further reforms are unlikely, according to Capital New York.

Skelos’ replacement as state Senate Majority Leader, Sen. John Flanagan (R-Northport), reportedly shares Heastie’s view.

One reason why the sentiment prevails may be found in phone calls between the senator and his son that the FBI recorded. In one exchange played in court, Adam criticized his father for working with the Democrats in the IDC, but Dean reminded his son to take the long view.

“I have to think about the next election,” the senator reminded him.

In between the push-pull of prosecutors and defense lawyers making their cases, the corruption trail of New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) details how much money and politics remain intertwined.