Rashed Mian

Rashed Mian has been covering local news for the Long Island Press since 2011. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2010 where he studied print journalism. Rashed, the staff's multimedia reporter, covers daily news for the web, shoots/edits feature videos and writes about civil liberties. He loves Afghan food and sports. Rashed is also a caffeine freak. Email: rmian@longislandpress.com. Twitter: rashedmian

Attorneys for Dean Skelos and Son Request Acquittal

Attorneys for former state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son, Adam, have requested that the court acquit the pair and grant them a new trial, arguing that the evidence presented in court was not strong enough to warrant their conviction.

In what is largely a procedural move, the Skeloses’ attorneys filed a motion on Tuesday for acquittal on all counts “because the evidence submitted at trial was insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt,” their attorneys wrote in court papers.

The motion is a follow up to a failed acquittal request made by the defense following closing arguments.

Federal prosecutors have until Feb. 12 to respond.

After a four-week trial at Manhattan federal court, the disgraced state senator and his son were convicted in December of bribing firms that had business before the state to pay Adam for jobs he never performed.

The jury deliberated for eight hours before returning a guilty verdict on Dec. 11.

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The elder Skelos’ conviction came just weeks after his former Albany counterpart, ex-state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), was also found guilty of corruption charges in the same courthouse.

Along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assemb. Silver and Sen. Skelos were part of an exclusive group dubbed, “Three Men In A Room,” that called all the shots in the state Legislature.

Following his conviction, Dean Skelos was immediately stripped of his senate seat.

Both Dean and Adam are scheduled to be sentenced on March 3. They face up to 20 years in prison.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to formally schedule a special election to fill either Silver’s or Skelos’s seat, although initial news reports suggested that he might pick April 19th. In the meantime, both seats remain empty.

Service Fully Restored on Long Island Rail Road

(Photo credit: MTA New York City Transit / Leonard Wiggins)

Relief finally came to Long Island Rail Road riders Tuesday as the railroad returned to full service following a headache-filled commute a day earlier.

All LIRR branches were fully restored in time for Tuesday morning’s commute, railroad officials said. The restoration of service comes one day after riders were forced to deal with cancellations, delays, and packed trains following this weekend’s blizzard.

“We expect to have all segments of all branches operating Tuesday morning, but customers should allow extra travel time and check for the potential for weather-related delays before traveling,” LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski said in a statement.

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Crews had been working since Saturday’s blizzard to have the railroad fully operational by the beginning of the week.

Rail yards were buried in two feet of snow and tracks were blanketed in mounds of white stuff due to the powerful Nor’easter that rolled in on Saturday. On Sunday, officials said they were hoping to have full service restored by Monday morning. But five branches remained closed Monday and only one other line was restored in time for riders to head back to the Island for the evening commute.

Nowakowski said thousands of railroad employees had been working to clear snow and repair damaged equipment.

“I thank them all for a job well done fighting a snowstorm that hit us harder than expected,” Nowakowski said.

The delays Nowakowski had warned riders about materialized early Tuesday morning. There were scattered delays of up to 10 minutes due to ongoing effects from the storm, the LIRR said.

About an hour later, however, service was running on or close to schedule.

Here’s What You Need to Know for Tonight’s LIRR Commute

(Photo credit: MTA New York City Transit / Leonard Wiggins)

Long Island Rail Road commuters heading back to work after a snowbound weekend were greeted with long delays and packed trains Monday as the railroad continued the exhaustive task of digging out from Saturday’s powerful blizzard.

The news for the evening commute may do little to assuage frustrated commuters who had rough start to the work week.

The LIRR announced Monday afternoon that train serviced had been restored on the Port Washington branch. Still, four other branches remain suspended: Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach and West Hempstead. The LIRR noted that the suspensions were due to the “on-going effects of this weekend’s blizzard.”

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Diesel service was also restored in Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and Montauk branches, as well as between Greenport and Ronkonkoma.

“Please allow extra travel time and expect delays and crowding,” the LIRR said.

There is still no service between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, which means Islanders fans with tickets to Monday night’s game will have to take an alternate route to the Barclays Center. The railroad recommended fans take LIRR trains to Penn Station, where railroad tickets will be honored on the No. 2 or 3 Brooklyn-bound trains.

As the blizzard walloped the region Saturday, officials decided to suspend service on all lines beginning at 4 p.m. Officials had said crews would work throughout the day Sunday with the goal of having all branches fully running by the morning.

The LIRR has encouraged riders to visit www.mta.info for information on suspended branches.

(Photo credit: MTA New York City Transit / Leonard Wiggins)

Long Island Blizzard Dumps 30 Inches, Halts Travel

There was a period when it seemed this winter would be remembered not for Mother Nature’s fury but instead for sweaty 60-degree December days. Not anymore.

The blizzard of 2016 lived up to the hype, spawning swirling and driving snow that caused whiteout conditions, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency and issue a travel ban that was lifted at 7 a.m. Sunday, 15 hours after it had gone into effect. A blizzard warning that had been in effect since early Saturday also expired.

“Traveling has resumed and has resumed without issue thus far,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a Sunday morning press conference.

When Mother Nature’s pent up fury finally got under control, nearly 30 inches had fallen on the Island. The Nor’easter also proved fatal. Three people apparently attempting to clear snow had died, a 61-year-old man in West Hempstead, a 94-year-old Smithtown man, and a 75-year-old woman from Huntington Station. Overall, there were 18 reported deaths from the blizzard, which slammed much of the mid-Atlantic.

In Suffolk, County Executive Steve Bellone told the Press county and state roads are passable but secondary roads could take more of an effort to clear. Calling it an “extraordinary” storm, he said it could take a few days for crews to clear all the snow.

Bellone did say the county “dodged” a bullet because there were no reports of significant flooding, which was a top concern among state and local officials.

On Sunday morning residents awoke to mounds of snow along sidewalks and in driveways. There was the ubiquitous hum of snow blowers and sound of shovels colliding with pavement. Instead of drifting snow, LI was being bathed in a glorious blue sky, but despite the superb conditions it could take a few days for local municipalities to clean up the mess.

The National Weather Service’s Upton office released unofficial snowfall totals that surpassed even upgraded predictions of up to two feet. Hicksville had the most significant snowfall with 29.6 inches. Other communities saw a little more than two feet, while others were lucky enough to record about a foot and a half. In Suffolk, the highest total reported by the weather service was 26.5 in Commack.

The storm was so powerful that officials decided Saturday afternoon to suspend service on the Long Island Rail Road and institute a travel ban on the Long Island Expressway and Northern State Parkway. The travel ban has since been lifted. But officials at the LIRR said service would remain suspended with crews working through the day to make tracks passable and clear LIRR yards that remain buried under two feet of snow.

“The problem we’re still having is the Long Island Rail Road, which sustained significant damage in the yards,” Cuomo told reporters.

Crews, the railroad said, will focus on the most highly-traveled branches with the goal of returning service for the Monday morning commute.

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At area airports, airlines were working on a reduced schedule after going a day with no flights at all.

Long Island MacArthur Airport said flights were cancelled until late Sunday afternoon and advised travelers to check with airlines for updates.

The above-ground power lines across Long Island appeared to hold up well through the storm. The number of people without power fluctuated all day Saturday, with PSEG Long Island reporting that it had restored service to more than 25,000 customers.

The one death in Nassau was a 61-year-old West Hempstead man who suffered cardiac arrest while shoveling snow, Nassau County police said. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Suffolk County police reported two blizzard-related deaths. A 75-year-old woman shoveling at her Tippen Drive home had difficulty breathing and was transported to Huntington Hospital, where she died, police said. In Smithtown, a 94-year-old man collapsed near his snow blower and was pronounced dead at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, police said.

“I think it’s something we’re going to pay a lot more attention to,” Bellone said of getting the word out about elderly residents shoveling deep snow in the bitter cold.

UPDATE: Authorities have identified a fourth blizzard-related death. A 66-year-old man was fatally struck by a snow plow in front of his Oyster Bay Cove home on Sunday, Nassau County police said.

(Photo credit: New York Governor’s Office)

Long Island Blizzard: Travel Ban on LIE & Parkways, LIRR Shut Down

Citing an inability for plows to keep up with the high rate of snow blanketing Long Island, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will institute a travel ban on the Long Island Expressway and parkways on LI.

The ban went into effect at 2:30 p.m. The Long Island Rail Road also ceased operations at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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“The plows literally can’t keep up,” Cuomo told reporters at a press conference, where he was joined by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his counterpart in Suffolk County, Steve Bellone.

The governor acknowledged that officials want to “keep roads open, you want to keep trains running,” but he said public safety is his No. 1 concern.

The travel ban will be conducted in an “orderly way,” Cuomo said, so people who are at work can head home.

The governor offered a stern message to anyone thinking about driving, and implored residents to let the plows do their job. Anyone caught on the LIE or  parkways during the travel ban could face a traffic infraction, Cuomo said. The governor did not say when the ban would expire.

A blizzard warning is currently in effect until 7 a.m. Sunday.

Officials had spent most of the morning urging residents to shelter at home and stay off the roads. The powerful Nor’easter that barreled into Long Island late Friday night could end up dumping up to two feet of snow on Long Island. Plows have been unable to keep up with the high rate of snow, officials said. The National Weather Service said snow is falling at a rate of 3 inches per hour.

“We will be keeping our county roadways as clear as possible because we have to get to our hospitals and other emergency services,” Mangano told reporters.

As for the Long Island Rail Road, there will be an orderly shutdown of service beginning at 4 p.m. The railroad is currently experiencing system-wide delays.

Meanwhile, potential flooding remains a top concern among officials in both counties.

“We have a big concern with coastal flooding post-Superstorm Sandy,” Bellone said. “We have seen these low-lying areas…flooding more frequently than we have ever seen before.”

Officials are closely monitoring Saturday evening’s high tide cycle. There have been no reports of significant flooding as of yet.

“The wind is compounding the situation,” Cuomo said. “The most dangerous pitch from Mother Nature is the flooding. That is the greatest threat to public safety. That does the most damage.”

Cuomo earlier Saturday morning declared a state of emergency for Nassau and Suffolk counties.

(Photo credit: New York State Governor’s Office)

Long Island Blizzard: Cuomo Declares State of Emergency for Nassau & Suffolk

Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a storm briefing on the powerful Nor'easter slamming Long Island. (Photo credit: Governor's office)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for Nassau and Suffolk counties amid a powerful Nor’easter walloping the region.

“We are concerned about Long Island,” Cuomo told reporters during a press conference Saturday morning.

Cuomo said his primary concern for the Island is not heavy snowfall, which is expected to increase in intensity as the day goes on, but rather potential flooding along the coast.

“That is probably the worst curveball Mother Nature can throw,” he said of potential floods.

The governor said he’ll be on Long Island Saturday afternoon and expressed concern about the state of the Long Island Expressway and the Long Island Rail Road.

Under a state of emergency, Cuomo has the power to ban travel on certain roads but he has yet to do so.

“The roads are open but that is a deceptive statement,” Cuomo said. He urged residents to refrain from driving.

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“We have not closed the roads, however, as I’ve said before—and I can’t say forcefully enough—unless there is an emergency situation or a critical need, you should not be on the roads,” he added.

“The Long Island Rail Road has specific issues…and of course flooding is a primary concern on Long Island,” Cuomo continued.

The LIRR is running on its normal weekend service but the railroad may modify service if conditions deteriorate.

State officials also noted that all flights out of John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport have been cancelled. Long Island MacArthur Airport has also cancelled all flights.

The Island could get slammed with up to two feet of snow, forecaster said.

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Long Island Blizzard: 2 Feet of Snow Could Blanket Long Island

Blizzard 2016
Satellite snaps image of blizzard barreling toward Long Island. (Photo credit: NASA/NOAA)

The powerful Nor’easter that forecasters had been warning about for a week finally made its way to Long Island Friday evening, and just as it did, new reports came in indicating potentially higher snowfall amounts then originally predicted.

The National Weather Service’s Upton office reported that Long Island could get blanketed with up to two feet of snow—up from earlier predictions of just a foot. LI was still on track to see potentially dangerous 55 mph wind gusts. The agency’s blizzard warning is in effect until 7 a.m. Sunday.

During a press conference Saturday morning, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that he had declared a state of emergency, effective at 8 a.m.

“We are now getting a direct hit,” Bellone said, adding that the storm was more intense then originally predicted.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano also announced a state of emergency.

Here is our new storm total snow forecast! #Winterstorm

Posted by US National Weather Service New York NY on Friday, January 22, 2016

In an early morning TV appearance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned the “the worst is yet to come.” In an interview with NBC New York he announced he would be declaring a state of emergency. That allows the state to more easily move resources around and ban travel on certain roads. The governor did not say if he intends to close any roads on the Island. [UPDATE: Gov. Cuomo declares a state of emergency]

The governor also called on residents to stay off the roads, lamenting that he had already seen stranded vehicles and accidents in his travels.

“Beside Mother Nature, what we end up dealing with is citizens” traveling in poor conditions, he told NBC New York. “Once cars get stranded, now the road is impassable, the plow can’t pass…now you really have a chaotic situation.”

“You should not be on the road, it’s that simple,” he added.

In Nassau County, Mangano urged residents to shelter in place. The blizzard, he said, would complicate efforts of plow operators because of expected whiteout conditions. Bellone had the same message for residents in Suffolk.

“The roads are treacherous,” he said. “Stay off those roads.”

Bellone said the county has already received 60 storm-related calls. He said there had been seven accidents on county roads since the storm hit, but no injuries were reported. Mangano told NBC New York hat there had been 27 accidents. He did not say if any were serious.

The storm is expected to intensify as the day goes on, Bellone told reporters. As heavier bands enter the region, snow could fall at a rate of 1 to 3 inches an hour, he said.

Plow operators in Suffolk have been batting the storm since midnight. There are currently 275 plows on Suffolk roads, and that number is likely to increase as the day goes on, Bellone said.

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The massive Nor’easter is threatening much of the mid-Atlantic, with millions of people in its path. Thousands of flights have already been cancelled, including at John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport. Long Island MacArthur Airport won’t resume flights again until Sunday afternoon, but departure times vary depending on the airline.

Aside from the snowfall, officials all agreed that their biggest concern was potential flooding along the coast. Parts of the Island are also under a coastal flood warning due to the strong winds. The weather service said tides could be more than 3 feet above normal. The agency warned residents in low-lying areas to be aware of rising water levels and “take appropriate action to protect life and property.”

As of 8:30 Saturday, a little more than 1,000 PSEG Long Island customers were without power, the utility reported. At one point, more than 13,000 ratepayers were in the dark.

The Long Island Rail Road was reporting minor delays on several branches. The LIRR has said it could modify or suspend service depending on snow accumulation and if sustained winds become greater than 39 mph.

Snow is expected to taper off late Saturday, forecasters said.

Update 1: This article was updated to include new outage information from PSEG Long Island.

Update 2: This article was updated to include comments from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Long Island Blizzard: Updated Forecast Calls for 18 Inches of Snow

Blizzard 2016
Satellite snaps image of blizzard barreling toward Long Island. (Photo credit: NASA/NOAA)

Just as Gov. Andrew Cuomo was updating residents on the state’s plan to battle the first winter storm of the season, forecasters upgraded their projected snowfall total for parts of Long Island to up to 18 inches.

That update comes after meteorologists at the National Weather Service’s Upton office for the last day have predicted up to a foot of snow for the region. However, the agency throughout the week has warned that the storm’s track was uncertain meaning forecasts could change, either for the better or worse.

Officials have said that their major concern with this Nor’easter is the potential for flooding in coastal areas. Parts of the Island are also under a coastal flooding warning.

“Flooding can do tremendous tremendous damage, as we’ve learned the hard way,” Cuomo said.

Also causing angst among officials is near-zero visibility on roadways due to expected blowing snow and whipping winds.

The duel effect of potentially serious flooding in low-lying areas and heavy snow throughout means municipalities will have to deploy resources to battle the storm on many fronts.

Cuomo’s message to residents was to stay at home because stalled or abandoned vehicles put first responders in harm’s way.

The massive Nor’easter is threatening much of the mid-Atlantic with upwards of two feet of snow. More than 4,500 flights have been cancelled due to inclement weather. Area airports have also begun cancelling flights, including LaGuardia Airport (700) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (350). Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said he expects all airlines to waive rebooking fees.

All flights out of Long Island MacArthur Airport will be cancelled by 7:35 p.m. Friday and will resume again Sunday afternoon, but departure times vary depending on airline.

While officials are warning residents about traveling by car, the Long Island Rail Road has not made plans to halt operations but could modify or suspend service depending on snow accumulation and if sustained winds become greater than 39 mph.

Cuomo said agencies have beefed up their ranks as they brace for the storm, including PSEG Long Island, which has nearly 1,000 personnel on standby.

Hundreds of pieces of snow-fighting equipment is headed down to help battle the storm, including more than 1,000 operators and supervisors, dozens of plows, and a half-dozen vacuum trucks outfitted with sewer jets destined for LI to help relieve flooding.

“You hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” Cuomo said. “But we are preparing for a significant occurrence.”

Officials in Nassau County echoed Cuomo’s plea to heed warnings.

“We are asking our motorists, should the storm stay on track, please do not take to the roads.”

Mangano urged residents to use its non-emergency hotline in non-life-threatening circumstances. The number is 1-800-315-5153. The hotline will be activated 8 p.m. Friday.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone encouraged residents to shelter in place, saying “this is a real storm that does pose risks.”

Despite the bleak outlook he chose to look on the bright side.

“It is fortunate that this storm is hitting at this time, on a weekend” when people will be at home and not traveling to work, Bellone said.

Suffolk’s non-emergency hotline is 631-852-4900.


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Long Island Blizzard Warning Issued, Heavy Snow & Flooding Possible

Satellite image of Nor'easter churning toward Long Island. (Photo credit: NASA/NOAA)

Long Island has been placed under a blizzard warning as a powerful mid-Atlantic Nor’easter churns toward the region this weekend.

The blizzard warning will go into effect early Saturday morning and last until noon Sunday, according to the National Weather Service’s Upton office. Blowing snow could start after 3 p.m. Saturday and continue through the evening.

It’s not only periods of heavy snowfall that Long Islanders will have to contend with. Sustained winds of 35 mph combined with gusts of 55 mph could spawn whiteout conditions that will make traveling extremely dangerous. As a result of drifting snow, forecasters said, visibility may be reduced to ¼ of a mile—or, in some cases, “near zero” visibility.

Snow accumulation predictions currently range from 7 to 12 inches, forecasters said.

Parts of the Island will also be under a coastal flood warning. A combination of powerful wind gusts and a full moon could mean tides 3 to 4 feet above normal, forecasters said.

The South Shore could see the most flooding, the weather service said.

“Elevated water levels and large breaking waves on the shore of Long Island may result in erosion of dunes,” the weather service said on its website.

The massive storm could impact as many as 15 states. Washington D.C. is preparing for more than two feet of snow, prompting officials there to shut down its entire mass transit system.

Foreboding weather predictions appeared to have some local residents preparing for the worst, with residents filling up gas cans to fuel generators in the event of power outages.

The biggest threat to power lines is icing brought on by the blistering cold and heavy snow expected to blanket the region, PSEG Long Island said.

During the week, the utility has conducted logistics and system checks ahead of the storm.

Local officials urged residents to use caution over the weekend. They implored people to stay off the roads and only get behind the wheel if travel is absolutely necessary.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said there’s more than 100 pieces of snow-fighting equipment and 28,000 tons of salt available to treat roads.

“Nassau County is monitoring the storm track and prepared to begin bringing main county roadways, bridges and overpasses to prevent black ice from forming,” Mangano said.

Suffolk County Deputy Commissioner Tim Sini said the department has equipment and people in place throughout the county to ensure road safety.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is prepared to assist local municipalities impacted by the storm.

The Island is also in store for frigid temperatures near freezing this weekend.

NYC Developer in Fatal Sag Harbor DWI Tried to Flee Country, Cops Say

Real estate developer Sean Ludwick was free on $1 million bail when he allegedly traveled to Puerto Rico to purchase a boat in order to flee the county, authorities alleged.

A prominent Manhattan real estate developer allegedly involved in a drunken driving crash that killed his passenger last summer in Sag Harbor was arrested this week after authorities said they received a tip indicating he might flee the county.

Sean Ludwick, who was free on $1 million bond after pleading not guilty to upgraded charges of vehicular homicide earlier this month, was placed under arrest at his home Tuesday afternoon, Southampton Town police said.

His arrest came four days after detectives received a tip that Ludwick was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, “and was looking to purchase a boat and leave the country,” police said in a news release.

Based on the information, authorities deemed Ludwick a flight risk and notified U.S. Marshals and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, who issued a warrant for his arrest.

The 43-year-old is being held without bail before his next court appearance.

Ludwick was originally charged with driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident following the Aug. 30 crash. Authorities alleged that he slammed his Porsche into a telephone pole at 2 a.m., killing his 53-year-old passenger, Paul Hansen, of Sag Harbor.

During his initial court appearance, prosecutors said evidence suggested Ludwick dumped Hansen’s body near his home and drove away. Ludwick’s blood alcohol content was .18 four hours after the crash, police said.

Ludwick was arrested after police found him standing by his car.

Judge Fernando Camacho ordered Ludwick to surrender his passport. US citizens traveling to Puerto Rico are not required to present a US passport.