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.

Centereach Man Charged With Fatal Stabbing

Elvin Guzman
Elvin Guzman

A suspect was arrested early Thursday morning for stabbing a 20-year-old man to death outside a restaurant in Centereach earlier this month, Suffolk County police said.

Elvin Guzman, 21, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Dennis Miranda Leon. Both the suspect and the victim are from Centereach.

Police said the suspect stabbed Leon during an altercation in the rear of El Rio Restaurant on Middle Country Road shortly after midnight on Saturday, Apr. 15.

The victim was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he died five days later.

Guzman will be arraigned Thursday at First District Court in Central Islip.

Hempstead Man Admits to Shooting, Killing Victim

James Marckesano
James Marckesano was arrested in Texas for a homicide in Hempstead. (NCPD)

A gunman who led police on a nationwide manhunt has admitted to fatally shooting a 28-year-old man in Hempstead two years ago.

James Marckesano pleaded guilty Tuesday at Nassau County court to manslaughter in the death of Victor Benitez. Both the suspect and the victim are from Hempstead. Charges of second-degree murder and weapons counts were dropped in exchange for Marckesano’s plea.

Authorities have said the 26-year-old man shot the victim, who was found lying on the ground on Clinton Street while suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen at 4:41 a.m. on July 4, 2015. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Marckesano was apprehended in Texas in December 2015. He will be sentenced June 6 before Judge Robert McDonald.

North Massapequa Crash Leaves Driver Dead

Nassau County Police Body North Bellmore
Nassau County police discovered the body of an older man buried in the backyard of home on Pea Pond Road in North Bellmore Friday with self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

A 23-year-old man was killed when he crashed his car on the Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway in North Massapequa late Wednesday night.

Nassau County police said the man was driving a Nissan Maxima southbound on Route 135 when he sideswiped a Nissan Altima, causing the Maxima to hit a tree on the side of the road near exit 5 at 11:17 a.m.

The driver of the Maxima was pronounced dead at the scene. His identity was not immediately available. The other driver was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Detectives are continuing the investigation into the cause of the crash.

Ex-Islip Public Safety Commissioner Convicted of Coercion

John Carney
John Carney

The former Town of Islip public safety commissioner was convicted of coercing four people into not accepting town jobs, although he was acquitted of taking bribes and other charges.

A Suffolk County jury found John Carney guilty Wednesday of three misdemeanor counts of coercion. The West Islip man was found not guilty of a bribe receiving, a felony, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.

Prosecutors said Carney, who resigned citing health concerns shortly before his arrest in September, coerced the applicants to decline town jobs in writing so Carney could attempt to reach preferred candidates who finished lower on the civil service list after an exam.

Carney faces up to one year in jail when he is sentenced July 6 by Judge Fernando Comacho.

A second suspect, former Assistant Fire Chief Michael Allen, of Holbrook, pleaded not guilty to the same charges as Carney. Allen was placed on administrative duty, town officials have said. He is due back in court before the same judge on May 18.

Driver Spared Jail in Limo Crash That Killed 4

A man who pleaded guilty Wednesday at Suffolk County court to driving while ability impaired when he crashed into a limousine, killing four women in Cutchogue two years ago, was spared jail time.

Judge Fernando Comacho sentenced Steven Romero to a 90-day driver’s license suspension and a $500 fine. The plea deal was struck because Romero’s blood alcohol level was .06 percent 90 minutes after the crash, making it difficult for prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the case for a more serious charge of driving while intoxicated. A grand jury opted to indict the limo driver with more serious charges.

Prosecutors said Romero, 57, of Peconic, was driving his pickup truck westbound on County Road 48 when he crashed into the limo, which was making a U-turn at the corner of Depot Lane after it had just left Vineyard 48 on July 18, 2015.

The four women killed in the crash were identified as Brittany Schulman and Lauren Baruch, both of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, of Kings Park; and Amy Grabina, of Commack. All were 23 except Baruch, who was 24. Three were pronounced dead at the scene, and the fourth died at an East End hospital. Four other women riding in the limo were injured.

Comacho dismissed the case against the limo driver, Carlos Pino, in October on the grounds of issues raised about the grand jury indictment, which charged Pino with criminally negligent homicide, assault, reckless driving and traffic violations. Prosecutors are appealing that ruling.

Ex-State Sen. Jack Martins Announces Run for Nassau Executive

Jack Martins Nassau County Executive
Former New York State Sen. Jack Martins announces his run for Nassau County Executive outside Mineola Village Hall on April 26, 2017. (Long Island Press / Rashed Mian)

Jack Martins, a former Republican New York State senator, announced Wednesday his plans to run for Nassau County executive while the indicted GOP incumbent hasn’t said if he’ll seek a third term.

Current Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges last fall, joined two of the three Democrats running for his job in criticizing Martins, although Mangano’s spokesman again ignored questions about whether he would run for re-election.

“Today I stand before you as I launch my campaign, formally, for county executive of Nassau County,” Martins told reporters during a rainy news conference outside Mineola Village Hall, where he previously served as mayor. “The challenges in Nassau County are just that, they are challenges, but they’re not insurmountable.”

He spoke of restoring the county’s reputation, recalling its role in World War II and legacy aiding manned missions to the moon.

“Our county was the preeminent county in the entire country,” Martins said, vowing to tackle public corruption. “We must ensure that that public trust is restored and renewed.”

Several dozen supporters were on hand for his announcement.

Martins served three terms as a state senator representing western Nassau County until last year, when instead of running for re-election, he ran for a vacant congressional seat, but lost to now-freshman U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), a former Nassau executive.

After Newsday reported Tuesday that the Nassau Republican Committee plans to nominate Martins, most of the candidates for county executive were quick to pounce on him. The Nassau GOP did not return a call for comment.

“I have no comment on this election season nonsense other than to wonder how Jack Martins will explain his support of an indicted Albany colleague and his failure to support tax assessment reform when he had the authority to correct it,” Mangano said, referring to disgraced state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who is appealing his conviction for his role in a Nassau contract rigging scheme.

Nassau County Legis. Laura Curran, the Democratic nominee in the county executive’s race, lumped Martins in with Mangano, who is accused of a bribery scheme and rebuffed calls to resign.

“There is a culture of corruption in Nassau County and the last thing we need is another career politician like Jack Martins who stood silently by, until it was politically convenient not to, as Ed Mangano sold out taxpayers,” Curran said. “As a foot soldier of the corrupt Albany establishment, Jack Martins did nothing as crooked politicians stole taxpayer money and stifled ethics reform at every turn. We need wholesale change in Nassau County and Jack Martins is just more of the same.”

New York State Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), who challenged Curran to a Democratic primary in September, also jumped into the fray.

“That last thing Nassau County needs to do is replace corrupt County Executive Ed Mangano with Dean Skelos lapdog Jack Martins who the [New York] Daily News called part of the corruption caucus,” Lavine said.

George Maragos, the county comptroller who switched parties from Republican to Democrat last year and also challenged Curran to a primary, did not respond to a request for comment on Martins’ announcement.

Martins’ campaign spokesperson E. O’Brien Murray shot back at the critics.

“Jack Martins stood up for honesty and integrity in county government and called on the county executive to resign 188 days ago,” Murray said. “It’s the height of hypocrisy for Legislator Curran and Assemblyman Lavine to play politics with this issue now, particularly when Legislator Curran has failed to say a word about corruption in either party and Assemblyman Lavine sat idly by as the Assembly Ethics Chairman when there were sexual harassment scandals, cover-ups and bribery in that chamber.”

Curran’s spokesman, Philip Shulman, returned fire.

“This is typical double speak from a typical career politician,” Shulman said. “State Senator Jack Martins is woefully uninformed about county issues if he doesn’t know that Laura Curran and her colleagues have filed numerous reform measures that the legislative Republicans refuse to bring to a vote, and Curran has already rolled out five sets of specific reform proposals that she will enact as County Executive. As for State Senator Martins calling on the current County Executive to resign, that’s not surprising since he clearly wants the job.”

Lavine’s camp also responded to Martins’ statement.

“Re-stacking the deck will not fundamentally change county government to make it work for the people of Nassau,” Lavine’s spokesman said. “Jack Martins offers nothing more than we already have. Nassau county families deserve better.”

Featured Photo: Former New York State Sen. Jack Martins announces his run for Nassau County Executive outside Mineola Village Hall on April 26, 2017. (Long Island Press / Rashed Mian)

-With additional reporting by Rashed Mian

3 Long Island Home Invasions in 1 Week Probed

Nassau and Suffolk County police are investigating three armed home invasions on Long Island in a week-long span, including two cases in which victims were assaulted, authorities said.

In the first case, an assailant entered a home on Georgia Avenue in Lake Ronkonkoma, pointed a gun at the victim and demanded property at 5:08 p.m. Monday, Apr. 17, Suffolk police said. The victim suffered lacerations and the attacker fled the scene.

Then at 2 a.m. Friday, Apr. 21, a burglar entered a Middle Island apartment on Money Court through an unlocked door, pointed a firearm at the victim, demanded money and hit the victim in the face with the gun, Suffolk police said. The gunman stole money and a cell phone. The victim was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital for treatment.

In the third case, two masked men armed with handguns entered through the basement window of a home on Jefferson Avenue in Roosevelt and demanded money from a 17-year-old boy who was asleep in his bedroom at 3:15 a.m. Sunday, Apr. 23, Nassau police said.

The gunmen ransacked the room, forced the victim upstairs and tried to enter a locked bedroom when the victim’s father called out and the duo fled the scene, police said. The assailants stole a cell phone, a pair of Timberland boots, a Sony PlayStation and an Amazon Fire Stick. The victims were not injured.

The suspects were described as black men between 6-feet and 6-feet, 2-inches, tall wearing black ninja masks and dark clothing. There were neither any arrests nor descriptions of the suspects in the two Suffolk cases.

Detectives are continuing the investigations into all three cases.

3-Ex NYPD Cops from Long Island Charged With Bribery

Three former New York City police officers from Long Island were implicated in an alleged scheme to rush gun permit licenses in exchange for bribes, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Paul Dean, a 44-year-old former lieutenant of the NYPD’s Licensing Division from Wantagh, and 47-year-old Robert Espinal, an ex-officer from Seaford, were each charged with extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery. David Villanueva, a 43-year-old Valley Stream resident and former sergeant, who was arrested last summer for his role in the alleged scheme, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery and making false statements. Villanueva also helped grease gun permit applications reviewed by the Nassau County Police Department’s Pistol Section investigators, authorities said.

“Corruption at the License Division also spawned a cottage industry of parasitic profiteers, alleged bribers masquerading as so-called expediters,” said Joon Kim, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “The critically important police function of issuing and controlling gun licenses was one they were willing to pervert for personal profit. When police officers violate their oath in this way, they not only betray the public they have sworn to protect, but their fellow officers who do their jobs the right way.”

Prosecutors said the LI trio, a former NYPD detective from Queens, an ex-Brooklyn prosecutor and a gun permit license expeditor orchestrated a scheme to have the NYPD License Division speed up the approval of gun licenses in exchange for bribes of cash, paid vacations, food, liquor, guns and prostitutes between 2013 and last year.

Dean, Espinal, Villanueva and a fourth officer from the city received bribes for clients of three gun permit expeditors, one of whom was a former NYPD detective, authorities said. In exchange, the accused officers didn’t do the required level of investigation into the applicants by, for example, not conducting interviews with them. Some of those who got gun permits in the alleged scheme had been convicted of violent crimes involving weapons and had histories of domestic violence, according to investigators.

Dean and Espinal retired in 2015 to become better paid as gun permit expeditors themselves, relying on their contacts in their old unit to get special treatment for their clients, prosecutors said. They also tried to pressure other gun expeditors to share their clients or they would use their clout in the unit to slow their approvals, authorities said.

In a separate alleged scheme, prosecutors said Villanueva received free dinners, sports memorabilia and an $8,000 watch for helping a former Brooklyn prosecutor shorten his clients’ 40-day waiting periods to as little as one day and shorten permit suspension periods, prosecutors said.

The ex-prosecutor also had Villanueva send gun license renewal applications to the Nassau police Pistol Section on NYPD stationery, knowing that would shorten the review time for the ex-prosecutor’s clients, authorities said. In exchange, Villanueva was paid in cash and sports tickets by the ex-prosecutor, authorities said.

The suspects face up to 10 years in prison.

Huntington Station Woman Fatally Hit by SUV

police
Morguefile photo

A 60-year-old woman was fatally hit by an SUV while crossing a road in her hometown of Huntington Station on Monday night.

Suffolk County police said Margaret Smith was crossing New York Avenue when she was struck by a Chevrolet Suburban at the corner of Railroad Street at 10 p.m.

The victim was taken to Huntington Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The driver was not injured.

Second Squad detectives impounded the truck, are continuing the and ask anyone with information on this crash to call them at 631-854-8252.

Lynbrook Woman Fatally Hit by Truck

(Photo credit: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)

An 80-year-old woman was fatally hit by a truck in the victim’s hometown of Lynbrook on Monday morning.

Nassau County police said Stephanie O’Neill was walking behind a Ford box truck that was backing up on Daley Place when she was struck shortly before noon.

The victim was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Detectives performed a brake test at the scene and found no criminality involved in the accident.