Timothy Bolger

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of 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.

3 Charged With Valley Stream Murder

Nassau County Police Body North Bellmore

Three suspects have been arrested for allegedly killing a 20-year-old man in the victim’s hometown of Valley Stream two weeks ago, Nassau County police said.

Gil Iphael, 18, Joshua Desrosiers, 21, and Michael Durham, 20, all of Valley Stream, were each charged with second-degree murder.

Homicide Squad alleged that the trio killed Pharoh Boone, who died at Long Island Jewish Hospital while being treated for a gunshot wound to the back on Tuesday, April 3.

All three were ordered held without bail following their initial court appearances Wednesday. They are due back in Nassau County court Friday.

From left: Gil Iphael, Joshua Desrosiers and Michael Durham.

Bloods Member Killed Man Over Photo, Feds Say

US District Court Central Islip
US District Court in Central Islip.

A reputed member of the Bloods street gang was indicted for allegedly killing a man outside of a Deer Park strip club last year following a dispute over a photo, federal authorities said.

Lawrence “L Boogs” Lewis was charged Tuesday at Central Islip federal court with the July 29 murder of John Birt, firearms offenses, and narcotics possession and distribution.

“The simple act of taking a photo ended in a man losing his life, all because a gang member was allegedly offended and decided to retaliate,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York office. “It’s hard to fathom how the suspect in this case weighed exposing his illegal drug trade, and his illegal weapons because he wanted to prove how tough he is to his rivals.”

Authorities alleged that the 36-year-old Calverton man shot the victim while Birt and several friends were posing for a photo at the Illusions Gentlemen’s Club in Deer Park when they were approached by an associate of Lewis, who was also a member of the Bloods. The associate attempted to display a Bloods gang hand signal in the photo, a dispute ensued and Lewis pulled out a handgun and fatally shot Birt, according to investigators.

The FBI Long Island Gang Task Force arrested Lewis Monday. The probe of the murder found that the suspect allegedly distributed large quantities of cocaine base and heroin in Suffolk County between January 2016 and March 2018, prosecutors said.

His arrest came on the same day that federal authorities announced the roundup of a dozen members of the Hempstead-based Mac Baller Brims set of the Bloods on charged of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine and heroin.

Lewis faces up to life in prison, if convicted before Judge Joanna Seybert.

LIRR President Resigns, MTA COO Takes Over

LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski addresses media during the Long Island Rail Road's community meetings to allow members of the public to learn more about the project and provide their input on an 82-page “Draft Scoping Document” at Hofstra University on May 24, 2016. (Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

Embattled Long Island Rail Road President Patrick Nowakowski resigned Friday and was replaced by MTA Chief Operating Officer Phil Eng, according to the transit agency. 

The news follows reports that the LIRR — the nation’s busiest commuter railroad — had its worst performance in 18 years in 2017. Nowakowski led the LIRR for four years.

“I took a few days off to think about things,” Nowakowski said. “I’m pleased with the direction the railroad is headed under the Performance Improvement Plan, and I decided that now was a good time to step aside and allow new leadership to continue the progress we’ve begun to make on improving customer service.”

Leaders of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the LIRR’s parent agency, praised Nowakowski and Eng.

“I thank Pat for his service to LIRR customers and his steady and evenhanded leadership of the railroad at a time when external events caused challenges for the railroad, particularly Amtrak’s renewal of tracks and infrastructure at Penn Station that the entire LIRR depends on,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota.

“Phil has shown exceptional leadership and dedication during his time at the MTA, and I know he will bring his enthusiasm for developing a world-class transportation system to the LIRR,” Lhota said. “With 35 years of experience in the New York transportation sector, I couldn’t imagine anyone better suited for this position at this crucial time as we work toward creating a robust future for the commuter rail.”

Eng’s appointment comes as the The Double Track Project, which will add a second track to the Ronkonkoma Branch between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale, is slated for completion later this year. It also comes as work has begun on the LIRR Expansion Project, which will bring a third track to the Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville, while crews continue to make progress on the East Side Access project. Eng will oversee the implementation of the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), unveiled last month, which is aimed at improving service reliability, seasonal preparedness and customer communications.

“My life’s work has centered on conceptualizing the best possible options to make transportation options more reliable, allowing commuters to get where they need to go safely and quickly,” Eng said. “I am honored to be chosen to lead the LIRR and its team of talented women and men as we work together to make the daily experience on the trains a better one. The transformational infrastructure projects that are underway, along with the implementation of the Performance Improvement Plan, will make a lasting impact on the region’s quality of life and economy.”

The Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council (LIRRCC) said it hopes the new leadership can effectively address the many issues facing the LIRR and the service it provides to its riders.

“Our council looks forward to working with the new leadership of the railroad to address the issues that impact service quality and the satisfaction of riders,” said LIRRCC Chair Mark Epstein.

2 Long Island Hearings Set in NY Probe of Utilities’ Nor’easter Response

More than a foot of snow fell in four hours in Islip, NWS said.

New York State officials investigating utilities’ preparedness after four nor’easters last month—some of which left people without power for days—have scheduled two public hearings on Long Island to discuss the issue.

The state Department of Public Service (DPS) invites the public to make statements 1 to 6 p.m. Monday, April 16 at the Nassau County Legislature in Mineola and 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 17 at the Suffolk County Legislature in Smithtown.

“As part of this investigation, we will determine what went right, and what went wrong, and take action accordingly,” said DPS CEO John B. Rhodes. “Utilities must follow their utility response plans and failure to do so can result in financial penalties to shareholders.”

The hearings are two of 20 that will be held statewide as a part of an investigation into all seven major electric utilities across New York.

The state wants to hear how members of the public were affected, if they think they received timely, accurate and adequate information from their utility before, during and after the outage, and their overall impression to the response. Investigators also invite recommendations on how the response can be improved.

PSEG Long Island defended its performance.

“We are proud of our storm preparation and response during the March nor’easters, and extremely proud of our PSEG Long Island crews, customer service and support personnel who worked around the clock in challenging conditions to safely and quickly restore power to our customers,” the utility said in a statement. “We will continue to offer our full support and complete cooperation to this important investigation and look forward to the findings.”

The Nassau legislature is located at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive Building, 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola. The Suffolk legislature is located at the William H. Rogers Building, 725 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Smithtown.

Individuals will be called to speak after completing a request card. Each public statement hearing will remain open for a minimum of one hour and will continue until everyone wishing to speak has been heard, officials said.

Those who cannot attend can provide comments to the department on its website at dps.ny.gov, by clicking on “Search,” and entering “18-00618” in the select “search by case number” field. In the open case, access the screen to enter comments by clicking on “Post Comments” box located at the top of the page. 

The public may submit comments via e-mail to Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, at secretary@dps.ny.gov. Comments may also be mailed or delivered to Secretary Burgess at the New York State Department of Public Service, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350. The public may also call the Department’s Opinion Line at 1-800-335-2120.  

Comments submitted are requested by Tuesday, May 22.  Comments should refer to “Matter 18-00618” and/or the “March 2018 Winter Storms Investigation.”

Suspect Arrested for Fatal Hempstead Shooting

U.S. Marshals and Nassau County police have apprehended a suspect wanted for allegedly killing a 23-year-old Uniondale man in the accused gunman’s hometown of Hempstead last month, authorities said.

Shavon Goins, 24, was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Ravino Bailey.

Homicide Squad detectives said Goins shot Bailey, who was found suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest while lying on Chamberlain Street in the vicinity of Boylston Street at about 2 a.m. Saturday, March 24.

The victim was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly later.

Goins will be arraigned Thursday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Brentwood MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty to Murder

ms-13

A reputed MS-13 gang member has admitted to helping kill a 27-year-old man while the victim sat in a parked car outside of his Brentwood home four years ago, federal prosecutors said.

Edwin Amaya-Sanchez, 30, also of Brentwood, pleaded guilty Tuesday at Central Islip federal court to his role as the getaway driver in the July 14, 2014 shooting death of Jose Lainez-Murcia.

“Amaya-Sanchez admitted that he participated in the planning and execution of a murder on Long Island in which the victim was marked for death because he was suspected of having killed MS-13 gang members in El Salvador,” said Richard Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

The gang has been identified as a top target of federal investigators due to its ultra-violent tactics. Last year, members of the gang allegedly committed a quadruple murder in Central Islip, drawing visits from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump. Both vowed to crack down on the gang as a result.

Prosecutors said Amaya-Sanchez knew where Lainez-Murcia lived, what car he drove, and what time he left for work in the morning, because they previously worked together. He and two co-conspirators armed with 9 mm handguns shot the victim as he entered his car, authorities said. Amaya-Sanchez dropped the gunmen off and picked them up afterward.

He was arrested when members of the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force rounded up a dozen other alleged MS-13 members last year.

Amaya-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who was previously deported, faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 17 by Judge Joseph F. Bianco.

FBI Gang Unit Recovers Possible Human Remains in Babylon

police
Morguefile photo

The FBI recovered what investigators believe to be human remains from a wooded area in the Village of Babylon on Thursday, authorities said.

Few details were immediately available, but the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force’s involvement suggested the case involves a street gang, potentially MS-13, which federal authorities have identified as their biggest priority.

“We don’t have further information to release at this time,” said an FBI spokeswoman who confirmed the recovery effort, which has concluded.

Suffolk County police referred requests for comment to the FBI. Suffolk Police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron told News 12 Long Island that investigators have been searching for a suspected victim of MS-13 violence in the area.

The discovery was made off Ralph Avenue, north of Argyle Lake.

Valley Stream Shooting Leaves Man Dead

Nassau County Police Body North Bellmore

A 20-year-old man was fatally shot in his hometown of Valley Stream this week, Nassau County police said.

Police officers responded to Long Island Jewish Hospital to investigate a man suffering from a gunshot wound to the back at 8:51 p.m. Tuesday, police said.

The victim, Pharoh Boone, was pronounced dead two hours later.

Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation. No arrests have been made in the case.

Investigators ask anyone with information regarding this crime to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.

Scott Rechler: Regularly Recalibrate Reality

Scott Rechler was No. 4 on the 2016 Power List.

As president and CEO of Uniondale-based RXR Realty, Long Island’s largest commercial landlord, Scott Rechler has rare insights into local real estate market. We recently caught up with him to get his thoughts on his latest development, the importance of thinking regionally, how to keep up with the fast pace of information and why his  homemade pizza dough is the best. Here are excerpts of our conversation:

Long Island Press: You have a few projects in the planning and development phase. Which one are you most excited about?

Scott Rechler: The one that I’m most excited about is what we’re doing in Glen Cove with Garvies Point. It is going to be so transformative to the Glen Cove community in taking what was a blighted, abandoned site and really making it an asset for opening up the waterfront to the community at large.

LIP: What is your vision for the company?

SR: Our focus is really understanding our customers and community that live in the New York Metropolitan region. As the economy changes and demographics change and the needs of our customers change, what we do is create real estate products that ultimately enhance the quality of life and serve our customers and communities. Really having a good understanding of our customers and community is what drives our vision and our strategy.

LIP: How about your vision for The Hub, the area in central Nassau that includes Nassau Coliseum, Museum Row and several colleges and major commercial buildings?

SR: Obviously, we own a lot of property around The Hub and I think having it developed as a mixed-use community with office and entertainment and housing would be a very big positive for that whole downtown Nassau County. I’m disappointed it’s taken so long to get something going there and I’m hopeful now with the new county executive, Laura Curran, it gets accelerated.

LIP: How do you juggle your real estate business with your roles at the MTA and the Regional Plan Association?

SR: Part of it is going back to our strategy, which is very much regionally focused and being an active member of our community. There’s a consistent element of those activities and RXR’s activities that overlap in terms of understanding the community and trying to make the community a better place for people to live and work.

LIP: How do you think the new federal State and Local Tax deduction cap will impact LI?

SR: It’s not a good thing. We already live in a high-cost-of-living community. To the extent that we have higher taxes that add more weight to a branch of something that already has a lot of weight on it. Although I think that people who live in the New York Metropolitan region recognize they have a higher cost of living and they live here for the quality of life, for the job opportunities, for the cultural opportunities. I don’t think we’re going to see a large migration from it, but I think that we’d be better off without having additional costs.

LIP: How did growing up on Long Island shape your worldview?

SR: I grew up in Port Washington and spent a lot of time in downtown Glen Cove because my grandparents lived there, so I spent the summers there. I think growing up, a recognition of the importance of community was always key for me. To have a vested interest in maintaining its vibrancy and competitiveness. Being someone who has always traveled around to the city and the region, understanding that Long Island and New York City and New Jersey and Westchester, while they’re independent, they’re inexplicably linked in the sense that the successes of each are critical for the region as a whole. Having that regional lens from a young age honed my focus.

LIP: Do you have any sayings?

SR: Every six months I put a new saying by my office door of what I want people to be  focused on and what I want to be focused on. Right now, it’s ‘regularly recalibrate reality.’ Because we’re living in a world that’s changing so quickly that what was true today, may not be true tomorrow and it may not be true yesterday. My view is you have to regularly recalibrate what that reality is and shift gears as appropriate.

LIP: What would readers be surprised to learn about you?

SR: I love to cook. I don’t know if people know that about that me. I studied cooking in Italy. I pride myself on my homemade pizza dough and pizzas.

Winter Storm Dumps 7 Inches of Snow on Parts of Long Island

A snow storm dumped seven inches of the white stuff on parts of Long Island on Monday morning, nearly twice the average amount forecasters predicted.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported the highest amount in Nassau County was 7 inches in Centre Island and the highest accumulation in Suffolk was 6.6 inches in Sayville.

Here is the full list of reports:

Nassau County
Centre Island 7.0 1100 AM 4/02 Law Enforcement
Manhasset 6.3 1035 AM 4/02 Trained Spotter
Oyster Bay 6.3 1012 AM 4/02 Fire Dept/Rescue
East Hills 6.0 1030 AM 4/02 Public
Massapequa 5.6 1030 AM 4/02 CoCoRaHS
East Williston 5.5 1015 AM 4/02 Public
Plainview 5.0 1030 AM 4/02 Trained Spotter
Albertson 5.0 1030 AM 4/02 CoCoRaHS
1 S Merrick 4.8 1044 AM 4/02 Trained Spotter
Bethpage 4.8 1000 AM 4/02 Public
Old Bethpage 4.5 1200 PM 4/02 Trained Spotter
East Meadow 4.5 925 AM 4/02 Social Media
Wantagh 3.9 1005 AM 4/02 Trained Spotter

Suffolk County
Sayville 6.6 1010 AM 4/02 NWS Employee
1 ENE Quogue 6.5 1100 AM 4/02 Public
Sound Beach 6.3 1030 AM 4/02 NWS Employee
Shoreham 6.3 1040 AM 4/02 Public
Riverhead 6.2 1045 AM 4/02 NWS Employee
Smithtown 6.1 1045 AM 4/02 Trained Spotter
West Babylon 5.9 950 AM 4/02 Trained Spotter
East Hampton 5.5 1110 AM 4/02 Public
Patchogue 5.3 1129 AM 4/02 NWS Employee
Baiting Hollow 5.2 900 AM 4/02 Co-Op Observer
Jamesport 5.1 1040 AM 4/02 Public
Commack 5.0 900 AM 4/02 Public
Islip Airport 4.6 1100 AM 4/02 FAA Observer
Ronkonkoma 4.3 1020 AM 4/02 CoCoRaHS
Upton 4.3 1030 AM 4/02 NWS Office
Lindenhurst 4.2 855 AM 4/02 Trained Spotter
Ridge 3.4 1035 AM 4/02 CoCoRaHS
Southampton 2.8 857 AM 4/02 Trained Spotter