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.

‘Stranger Things’ Plagiarism Allegations Get Trail Date

The creators of the Long Island-inspired Netflix hit series Stranger Things have been accused of ripping off the plot in a lawsuit that a judge set a trial date for next month.

L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Stern scheduled ruled this week that plaintiff Charlie Kessler’s lawsuit against Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer will go to trial on May 6.

“The credibility of the parties is an issue of material fact to be decided by the trier of fact,” wrote the judge, who rejected the brothers’ motion to dismiss the case.

Kessler accused the Duffer brothers of stealing his idea for the show, which involves a military base that kidnaps and performs experiments on children, unleashing a series of supernatural phenomena. 

Related Story: 5 Real-Life ‘Stranger Things’-Montauk, Long Island Parallels

“We look forward to proving Mr. Kessler’s case at trial,” Kessler’s attorney, S. Michael Keman, said in a statement.

The brothers maintain that they came up with the idea independently before Kessler mentioned it to them. Both Kessler and the Duffers plots were set in Montauk, which was the original title of Stranger Things before it was changed to Indiana.

“The Duffer Brothers have our full support,” Netflix said in statement. “This case has no merit.”

Season three of Stranger Things returns July 4.

 

Customs Agent From Long Island Stole Cash From Passengers, Feds Say

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer from East Meadow was arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing at least $10,000 from passengers’ bags he searched at John F. Kennedy International Airport over the past year, federal prosecutors said.

Joseph Cialone, 39, was charged with the theft at Brooklyn federal court. Judge Vera Scanlon released him on $50,000 bond.

Cialone, who was was assigned to the Smuggling Interdiction Unit, told investigators “that he has stolen [$100] bills from passengers’ handbags on at least 100 occasions,” according to court documents.

One alleged victim was a passenger who arrived on a Jet Blue flight from Trinidad and Tobago and found $100 missing from her belongings after Cialone searched her on March 26, according to investigators. The next day, another passenger made a similar complaint, authorities said.

Cialone was allegedly caught in the act on video surveilance camera footage. He is believed to have stolen from 11 women between March 17 and April 16, prosecutors said. When questioned, the officer waived his Miranda rights and admitted to dozens more thefts over the past year, officials added.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Nassau Debuts in Uniondale

Patients can expect state-of-the-art care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Nassau.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Nassau opened its new Uniondale location Monday, greatly expanding the highly regarded Manhattan-based cancer center’s Long Island presence that aims to make treatment more easily accessible to local patients.

Officials marked the new outpatient facility’s debut with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday before spending the weekend moving equipment from MSK’s first LI outpost at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre.

“Today the majority of cancer treatments that patients receive are delivered in an outpatient setting, and that’s why we need a new facility like we’re delivering here,” Dr. Craig Thompson, president and CEO of MSK, told reporters during a news conference.

The new 114,000-square-foot facility is located on Hempstead Turnpike, adjacent to NYCB Live, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Advanced, personalized care delivered by nearly 200 MSK medical and professional staffers at the site include services such as a state-of-the-art radiology and radiation therapy suite, private infusion rooms for chemotherapy and other treatments, a rehabilitation gymnasium, and an on-site café.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a top-ranked hospital according to US News & World Report, first opened its Mercy facility in 1998.

“Our physicians here are completely integrated into our disease-management teams and our patients and their families will be able to receive and participate in the full spectrum of clinical trials as well as receiving all of the current, state-of-the-art standard care,” said Dr. Lisa DeAngelis, MSK acting physician-in-chief.

Stacy Miranda, a Middle School teacher and MSK patient from Long Beach, recalled how physically taxing the trip to Manhattan for breast cancer treatment was compared to Rockville Centre.

“During the six months of chemo, I was too sick to drive myself the 20 minutes to Rockville Centre, so I was dependent on my parents,” she recalled. “Traveling to the city would have taken everything out of me that I had left to enjoy life, and since I couldn’t do much on my own, it also would have turned the lives of my support network upside down.”

2 Nassau Police Precincts Reopening

The Sixth Precinct in Manhasset is reopening.

Two Nassau County police precinct station houses that were downgraded to community centers under a controversial consolidation plan seven years ago are being reopened, officials announced Thursday.

The two precincts being reopened are the Sixth Precinct in Manhasset and the Eighth Precinct in Levittown, which will once again be fully operational on April 9 and 10, respectively.

“Our precincts are a vital part of Nassau’s unique police-community connection,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “These newly-renovated and properly-staffed precincts are a key part of our comprehensive effort to strengthen community policing in Nassau.”

The police department, with legislative approval, planned to cut the number of precincts from eight to four in 2012, but police put the brakes on the plan before consolidating the last two — the First Precinct in Baldwin and the Seventh Precinct in Seaford — after Superstorm Sandy.

The Fifth Precinct in Elmont reopened in 2015. The opening of the Sixth and Eighth precincts marks a return to all eight precincts and full reversal of the consolidation.

Curran and police officials said the goal of reopening the precincts is to enhance the county’s community policing initiative to prevent crime and address quality-of-life issues.

“This brings back the community policing model to the local communities,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. “We have heard many times over the years that our residents repeatedly wanted their precincts back open and this is now a reality.”

In addition to restoring staff and services to the two restored station houses, the proactive Problem-Oriented Policing officers — cops that focus on quality-of-life issues in addition to typical patrol duties — will once again report to the precincts.

The Manhasset station house is also slated for an estimated $800,000 renovation to the HVAC system, lobby upgrades, and other improvements throughout the building. Commanders and officers will work from a mobile unit next to the building until repairs are completed in October, officials said.

 

Suffolk Corrections Officer Accused of Child Sex Abuse

A Suffolk County correction officer was arrested Thursday for allegedly sexually abusing a child over a nine-year span, as well as theft and weapons charges, prosecutors said.

Robert Weis was charged with felony counts of sexual conduct against a child, criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of stolen property, and a misdemeanor count of official misconduct. Authorities are also investigating whether there are more victims.

“This is an individual who routinely abused his position of power, in both his official capacity as a correction officer and as an adult who was an authority figure for children,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said. “He violated the trust placed in him by those close to him, both professionally and personally.”

Prosecutors said the investigation into the 55-year-old Hampton Bays man began after a man reported to the Southampton Town Police Department that Weis had sexually abused the victim from from the ages of seven to 16.

Weis, who is the adoptive parent of five males and has been a foster parent for approximately 15 years, has been employed as a Suffolk County correction officer since 1995.

When authorities executed a search warrant at his home, they seized three illegal handguns, 32 rifles, and more than 50,000 rounds of ammunition. Police also said investigators recovered stolen property belonging to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, including bulletproof vests and EMT equipment.

Weis was placed on modified duty working as a quartermaster for the Sheriff’s Office and had access to the office’s uniforms, gear, and other official property after he was arrested in South Carolina in 2016 for allegedly sexually abusing a minor. Those charges are currently pending.

Weis was arraigned on the charges today in Southampton Town Justice Court. Bail was set at $1 million cash or $3 million bond.

Weis faces up to 25 years in prison, if convicted of the most serious charge. He is due back in court on Tuesday. The investigation is continuing.

Investigators urged anyone who was victimized by Weis or has information regarding the allegations to contact the Southampton Town Police Department’s Detective Division at 631-702-2230.

Hempstead Town Councilman Ed Ambrosino Pleads Guilty To Tax Fraud

ambrosino
Edward Ambrosino

Hempstead Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino has admitted to committing federal tax fraud, prompting the Republican to resign the elected seat he’s held for the past 16 years.

The 54-year-old North Valley Stream man pleaded guilty to tax evasion Wednesday at Central Islip federal court. 

“Just like the people who put him in office, Ambrosino owed it to his fellow citizens to pay his fair share of taxes,” said Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Federal prosecutors said Ambrosino, an attorney who will be disbarred due to the felony conviction, diverted more than $800,000 in legal fees from clients that he was required to provide to his former Uniondale-based law firm. The clients included the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and the Nassau County Local Economic Assistance Corporation. 

Ambrosino also evaded substantial income tax, and filed false and fraudulent
corporate tax returns on behalf of Vanderbilt in 2011, 2012, and 2013, authorities said. He claimed false and fraudulent business expense deductions, and failing to report funds he diverted from his former law firm, according to investigators.

Ambrosino faces up to five years in federal prison, as well as $254,628 restitution to the Internal Revenue Service for the tax years 2011 through 2014 when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert. He also agreed to pay $700,000 in restitution to his former firm.

Suffolk County Police Sergeant Arrested for Theft

www.houstondwiattorney.net
Photo by www.houstondwiattorney.net

A Suffolk County police sergeant was arrested Tuesday for allegedly falsifying time sheets in order to steal more than $7,000 over a two-year period, prosecutors said.

Robert Kall was released without bail after being charged with felony counts of third-degree grand larceny, corrupting the government, falsifying business records, as well as a misdemeanor count of official misconduct.

“Robert Kall’s alleged actions constitute a serious violation of the trust instilled in him by the Suffolk County Police Department and the public he was tasked with protecting and serving.” Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said. 

Prosecutors alleged that the 48-year-old Shoreham man falsified police records to indicate that he had worked full shifts when he had not on 12 separate dates between Feb. 3, 2016, and July 17, 2018. As a result, he allegedly received an additional 12 paid days off from work, valued at $7,429.24, to which he was not entitled.

Kall’s absence from work was established “by examining various records, including but not limited to, the cell site records for Kall’s cellular telephone; Kall’s access pass for usage at the Seventh Precinct building; and the Automatic Vehicle Locator … records of Kall’s vehicle,” investigators wrote in court documents.

Kall has worked for the department since 2000 and has been a sergeant since 2014. He is due back in court on June 4. He faces up to seven years in prison and a $14,858.48 fine, if convicted.

“Misconduct of any kind is taken seriously and will not be tolerated in this department,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart, noting that Kall was suspended without pay. “Residents should be assured that our officers are committed to their profession and Kall’s conduct is not reflective of the Department’s dedication to service.”

NY Budget Brings Big Changes to Long Island

The New York State Capitol in Albany. (Shutterstock)

Banning plastic shopping bags, congestion pricing, and making the two percent property tax cap permanent are just some of the big changes for Long Island tucked in the New York State budget.

The State Legislature passed the $175.5 billion spending package by the April 1 deadline on Monday morning. In it are measures that will impact daily life for many Long Islanders.

“This is the broadest, most sweeping state budget that we have done,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Here are the main takeaways:

CONGESTION PRICING

The much-debated toll on drivers that go below 60th Street in Manhattan passed. It’s called Central Business District Tolling and is designed to cut both gridlock and vehicle-related air pollution as well as raise revenue for mass transit.

Tolling will start no earlier than Jan. 1, 2020, once members of the Traffic Mobility Review Board pieces together recommendations for the full implementation.

While congestion pricing is expected to raise $15 billion for the MTA’s next five-year capital plan starting next year, MTA President Pat Foye said $7 billion from the federal government and revenue from other taxes will bring the MTA $32 billion total.

BAG BAN

Also included in the state budget is a ban on single-use plastic bags to protect the environment. Shoppers will have to bring their own bag for groceries, or opt to pay a 5-cent fee for a paper bag.

New York State is now the second state in the nation after California to have such a ban. Some municipalities on LI had previously passed laws taxing or banning plastic bags.

INTERNET SALES TAX

The days of sales-tax-free online shopping are coming to an end in New York State.

The budget creates a framework for the collection of sales taxes by internet marketplace providers, which is expected to annually generate $160 million in new revenue for local governments and $320 million for the MTA, Cuomo said.

This governor added that it will ensure that out-of-state merchants do not have a price advantage over the local retail community.

PROPERTY TAX CAP

The cap on municipalities, schools, and other special districts raising taxes more than two percent annually was initially passed years ago to help address parts of the Island and state having some of the highest taxes in the nation.

But today, the state made that tax cap permanent, so it won’t hang in the balance and require renewal each year by Albany lawmakers, as is customary with various other pieces major legislation.

HEALTH CARE

The budget codifies Affordable Care Act provisions and the New York Health Care Exchange into state law, and it strengthens the women’s agenda initiatives by improving access to IVF and egg-freezing services, instituting a rape shield for sex trafficking victims and investing in initiatives to combat maternal mortality.

MORE ELECTION REFORMS

It also included key election reforms requiring three hours of paid time off so New Yorkers will be better able to vote on Election Day, the allocation of $10 million in funding for early voting and a public financing commission with binding power to implement public campaign financing for legislative and statewide offices.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

The budget addressed several criminal justice reforms including the elimination of cash bail for most misdemeanors and low-level charges. More than 16,000 people are currently held in New York state jails pre-trial, according to state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), the author of the Bail Elimination Act and a longtime advocate for criminal justice reform.

It also prevents law enforcement agencies from releasing mugshots “that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.”

-With QNS

3 New Restaurants To Try on Long Island

Marie Blachère was founded in Provence in the South of France in 2004 by Bernard Blachère, a French baker with a passion for traditional bread.

MARIE BLACHÈRE BAKERY

With 500 locations throughout France, this popular bakery known for authentic artisan breads and a modern market design opened last month in Great Neck — its first location in the U.S.

Its products are baked and prepared on-site daily, made from traditional French-inspired recipes and U.S.-sourced ingredients, with the exception of its flour imported from France.

The menu includes French pastries, sweets, croissants, baguette sandwiches and salads as well as traditional American fare such as burgers, pizza, club sandwiches, donuts, muffins, and wraps. Beverages range from espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, latte, house coffee and hot chocolate to cold brews, teas, waters, juices, and more.

The two-floor bakery will also feature rooftop dining beginning next spring.

550 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck, marie-blachere.com

BIG DADDY’S EAST

This Cajun-style bar and restaurant that’s the second location of a Massapequa eatery of the same name opened just in time for Mardi Gras.

Big Daddy’s goes big with its annual “Mardi Gras Madness Week,” where they have seven nights of New Orleans-style celebration with live music and specials. The menu features Cajun, creole and soul food such as Louisiana crawfish boil, motor mouth stuffed shrimp, and Cajun “10-oncer” burger. Patrons are in good hands with Executive Chef Adam Anders, who trained under Emeril Lagasse.

One of the most festive places to go on LI for that New Orleans feeling.

44-46 E Main St, Bay Shore, 631-968-2505, bigdaddyseast.com

MODI WINE BAR

Making mouths water with a creative, modern Italian bistro menu is the hip, cozy new Modi Wine Bar, a chic casual dinner and drinks spot that recently opened in Franklin Square village.

The 60-seat white-tablecloth locale is attached to its sister restaurant, Cinelli’s Pizzeria. Two-time Chopped competitor Chef Merlin Tlepa expertly cooks up the culinary magic at Modi, the brainchild of Joseph Cinelli, an Italian immigrant, and his brother, Peter.

Modi has 14 wines on tap, ranging from Italy to California. Must-tries include the delectable Cajun-rubbed seared tuna with avocado mousse, Sriracha aioli and balsamic glaze appetizer, the perfectly prepared and presented New York strip steak with sautéed gnocchi, bacon, and Brussels sprouts, and the top-notch homemade tiramisu.

Modi Wine Bar,1195-A Hempstead Tpke., Franklin Square, 516-352-1745, modiwinebar.com

Elmont Group Opposed To New Islanders Arena Suggests Using Land As Ball Fields Instead

Elmont Against The Megamall, a group of residents opposed to building a new arena for the New York Islanders near Belmont Park, released this rendering of their proposal for the land: Parks and a community center.

A group of residents opposed to building a new arena for the New York Islanders on land next to Belmont Park in Elmont have released a proposal of their own for the site.

Instead of a hockey arena, the land should be used for a community center, Little League fields, and other sports fields, according to Elmont Against The Megamall, which has registered with New York State as a lobbying organization and hired California-based strategist Howard Kushlan to lead its lobbying efforts.

“The megamall and the arena are simply too much,” Tony Bhatti, a leader of the group, said in a news release touting the group’s plan. “It’s time to start over and our plan is a good place to start.”

The new group is working with prominent local attorney Albert D’Agostino of the Valley Stream-based law firm of Minerva & D’Agostino, to build a case against the development. It’s also reportedly working with Mercury Public Affairs, which helped opponents nix a plan to build a mall at the Cerro Wire Site in Syosset.

The Islanders won a bid in 2017 to build a new arena in Elmont, making real fans’ hope that the NHL team will skate home to Long Island after moving from Nassau Coliseum to Brooklyn. The hockey team and its financial backers got the greenlight to build a new 18,000-seat arena on New York State land adjacent to the Belmont racetrack in what officials touted as a $1-billion project.

Critics of the plan maintain that the already traffic-congested area can’t afford the inundation of additional cars and trucks that a new arena and mall complex would bring. Supporters argue that the park’s Long Island Rail Road station will allow fans to use mass transit, easing the impact on local gridlock. But opponents doubt that additional LIRR trains to the park will be enough to mitigate the issue.