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.

Hamptons’ Billionaires’ Row Homeowner David Koch Dies

David Koch
David Koch speaking at the 2015 Defending the American Dream Summit at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

David Koch, the wealthy industrialist and prolific conservative political mega-donor who was among the oceanfront homeowners on the famed Billionares’ Row, as Meadow Lane in Southampton is known, has died. He was 79.

David and his brother Charles Koch had been majority owners of Koch Industries, a Kansas-based multinational manufacturing conglomerate, but David retired as executive vice president last year following his years-long battle with prostate cancer, although his family did not mention his cause of death in announcing his passing.

“Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life,” Charles Koch wrote in a statement, according to ABC News. “David liked to say that a combination of brilliant doctors, state-of-the-art medications, and his own stubbornness kept the cancer at bay. We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result.”

The Koch brothers’ political activism, including partly funding the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party and their pioneering use of nonprofits to hide their campaign donations, made David a lightening rod for criticism nationally, although they refused to support President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. 

David also made local headlines. In 2014, his Southampton estate was found the be the Island’s largest private residential user of fresh water, topping the list at 20.7 million gallons. For perspective, the Suffolk County Water Authority says the average rate of consumption per household is 160,000 gallons.

David, whose $50 billion worth made him 11th on Forbes list of wealthiest people, had a four-acre compound on Meadow Lane, where neighbors include fashion designer Calvin Klein, Gracie Capital CEO Daniel Nir, and other elites.

 

Freeport Man’s Death Wrongfully Deemed Suicide, Lawsuit Claims

Nassau County Police

Nassau County investigators improperly concluded that a 20-year-old Freeport man’s 2016 shooting death was a suicide instead of a homicide, according to a lawsuit that the victim’s family filed last month.

The family of Johmeik Simmons, who died of a single gunshot wound to the head while two others were present, remains unconvinced that the college-bound former high school football star would take his own life and believes that Nassau police and medical examiners erred. The suit seeks to have authorities reclassify his death as a homicide and then investigate the case as such.

“My son would not kill himself,” Simmons’ mother and the plaintiff in the suit, Tihesha Climer, told WNBC New York, which first reported the story. “He had everything to live for. He’d just beaten cancer.”

Simmons was shot in the head Nov. 16, 2016, inside a house in Freeport. The two other males present told police that he pulled out a gun and shot himself, according to the lawsuit filed in Nassau court by Manhattan-based attorney Abe George. He was comatose for five days and died Nov. 20. 

The county medical examiner’s office declared his death a suicide the next day and Homicide Squad detectives closed the case in July 2017 after they were unable to find any leads supporting the family’s theory, the suit states.

The family hired a private investigator, ex-New York City police homicide detective Eddie Dowd, who raised numerous questions about the county’s conclusions. Among them was the fact that Simmons’ wound lacked the gunpowder residue, pattern, and angle typical of a close-range gunshot, “the gunshot wound being made to a part of the head that is atypical in cases of suicide,” and that he was shot on the right side of the head despite being left handed, according to the suit.

The county medical examiner’s autopsy report, which was included as evidence in the case, confirms the independent investigator’s review of the gunpowder residue, known as stippling.

“There is no evidence of barrel impression, soot, or stippling noted around the entrance wound,” the county medical examiner states in the autopsy report. 

Dr. Jonathan Arden, a forensic pathologist and former New York City medical examiner, also reviewed the crime scene photographs and issued a report for the family.

“Both the circumstances of the shooting and the features of the gunshot wound itself are inconsistent with this having been a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Dr. Arden wrote in his report. “The circumstances and the shooting scene strongly suggest that this gunshot wound was inflicted by another person.

“It is very unusual for a person to commit suicide with other people present, especially when not in his own residence, where anyone else present would likely only be close family members,” Dr. Arden continued, noting that the blood splatter pattern, broken glass, and broken wall suggest foul play. “The shooting scene has strong indications that an altercation occurred.”

Dowd and Dr. Arden concluded that Simmons’ manner of death ought to be certified as a homicide and an an independent crime scene analyst corroborated their observations of the crime scene, the suit states.

The county maintains that its investigators made the right call. County attorneys asked Judge Randy Sue Marber to dismiss the case, which names the county and Dr. Tamara Bloom, the county’s chief medical examiner, as defendants.

“The Nassau County Medical Examiner’s Office disagrees with the consultant’s conclusion,” Christine Geed, a county spokeswoman, is quoted as saying in the court documents. “We base our opinion on correlation of all available information regarding circumstances proved by NCPD that is consistent with the autopsy findings. The manner of death in this case will remain the same.”

Both sides are scheduled to appear back in court on Sept. 24.

Related Story: Long Island Coroners Seek ID for 38 Unidentified Human Remains

Long Island Native Tapped To Handle Epstein’s Will

Jeffrey Epstein in his 2006 Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department mug shot.

A Long Island native is one of the two lawyers that convicted pedophile and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein named to be executor of his nearly $600 million estate before Epstein died.

Darren Indyke, 54, who reportedly worked for Epstein for more than 20 years and was intimately involved in his business dealings before being tasked with handling the estate, graduated from Glen Cove High School in 1982, the Press confirmed.

“Indkye’s name appears on charitable filings, real estate records, trademark filings, and other business matters related to Epstein and his inner circle,” Yahoo Finance reported, adding: “Indyke has been involved with virtually all of Epstein’s business dealings in the last two decades — his name appears as the treasurer and vice president of Epstein’s three most prominent nonprofits.”

Authorities have said the 66-year-old registered sex offender who allegedly sex trafficked and abused dozens of girls who were minors over the years, died by apparent suicide Aug. 10. in his Manhattan federal jail cell following an earlier attempted suicide. The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice’s inspector general are investigating the wealthy financier’s death.

Federal investigators arrested Epstein in July following a Miami Herald expose that detailed how in 2008, then-federal prosecutor Alexander Acosta hid from Epstein’s victims a non-prosecution agreement with the serial abuser. Acosta, who went on to become President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Labor, resigned amid outrage over the lenient 13-month jail sentence — instead of life in prison Epstein was facing — that allowed Epstein to continue preying on victims over the past decade. Epstein’s many high-powered friends over the years have included Trump, former President Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew.

“For Epstein’s work release, [Indyke] signed as Epstein’s employer, so clearly Darren Indyke knows quite a bit,” Calder McHugh, a Yahoo Finance reporter who co-wrote the story on Indyke’s history, told On The Move. Yahoo reported that Indyke visited Epstein 38 times in the Florida jail.

New York State records show Indyke graduated from Cornell Law School and has a law office on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. Florida voting records list his current hometown as Boca Raton. He could not be reached for comment.

Besides Indyke, also listed as an executor of Eptein’s estate in the will filed in the U.S. Virgin Islands — where Epstein’s so-called Pedophile Island is located — is Richard Kahan and an alternate, Boris Nikolic, who are to be paid $250,000 each for the work, plus expenses, according to the New York Post, which first reported on the will made two days before Epstein’s death.

The New York Times reports that Indyke hired a criminal defense attorney in anticipation of federal authorities continuing to investigate Epstein and his finances after his death.

 

FiOS1 News Going Off The Air in November

Long Island will lose one of its two hyper-local cable TV news stations when FiOS1 News goes off the air this fall as Verizon FiOS pulls the plug on its answer to Altice’s News12.

Verizon declined to renew its contract with Rye Brook-based RNN, which produced FiOS1 News for Long Island, Hudson Valley, and New Jersey audiences. The move will put 150 journalists across the New York Metro area out of work. 

“Barring a change in direction from Verizon, RNN News will cease providing news programming for Verizon’s Fios1 News network at 12:01 a.m. on November 16, 2019,” RNN President Richard French wrote in a letter to employees announcing the news, according to The Journal News, which first reported the story Sunday.

Without FiOS1 News, Verizon FiOS subscribers will be left to watch New York City-focused network television news, which sprinkles the occasional Long Island story in their news casts covering the entire metro area. The change also comes after Altice cut staff levels at News12. It comes a decade after FiOS1 entered the market.

“Losing a local voice like FiOS1 is a serious loss to the region because it’s the news that connects us, creates a sense of community, and directs the public conversation of what we need to know and should care about,” said Jaci Clement, CEO and executive director of the Fair Media Council, a Bethpage-based nonprofit media watchdog group.

“You’re not losing local news because you don’t deserve the coverage,” she continued. “You’re losing it because an industry has lost its way, but now everyone gets to play a role in figuring out how to make news work in their communities. In many ways, local news is now in a startup phase. It’s experimenting, and sometimes failing, but it’s part of the process of becoming something new, better, and stronger.”

 

Decades-Old Child Sex Abuse Allegations Pursued Under New Law

vinas

Survivors of child sex abuse filed lawsuits Wednesday against the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, and other organizations under a New York State law that extended the time allowed to pursue cases.

As soon as the state Child Victim’s Act went into effect, survivors’ attorneys filed the cases seeking justice for hundreds of decades-old allegations of abuse, many of them on Long Island.

“For years this law has been hard fought so that survivors on Long Island could hold their abusers accountable and seek justice,” said Jennifer Freeman of Marsh Law Firm, a sexual abuse attorney who represents hundreds of plaintiffs who filing suit under the new law. “That moment is now here. Sexual predators and large institutions have attempted to hide heinous abuse for too long, and today, we can begin to heal the pain and suffering our clients onLong Island have experienced over decades.”

Survivors were previously time barred by New York State’s previous statute of limitations. Marsh and Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala are two leading firms suing the institutions.

Defendants include the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Good Shepherd Parish and Church in Holbrook, Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville, St. Andrews Parish and Elementary School in Sag Harbor, St. Barnabas Parish and Church in Bellmore, St. Hyacinth Parish and All Saints Regional Catholic School in Glen Head, St. Josephs Parish and Church in Babylon, St. Lawrence Parochial School in Sayville, St. Patricks Parish and School in Bay Shore, and St. Philip and St. James Church in St. James.

The cases allege that clergy members were often allowed to retain their status in the church after they were credibly – and in some cases, repeatedly – accused of inappropriate sexual contact with children, attorneys say.

In addition to these suits against the Catholic Church, the law firm will also represent survivors in legal action against the Boy Scouts of America, Rockefeller University, schools, foster care facilities, and other religious institutions.   

The new law allows opens a one-year window for victims to file suit in casss where the statute of limitations expired, allows victims to commence a civil lawsuit at any time before they reach 55 years of age, eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor, requires judicial training with respect to crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors, and authorized the Office of Court Administration to promulgate rules for the cases’ timely adjudication.

“Child sexual abuse is a real epidemic” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed the law in February. “It’s been in the corners and in the shadows, but it is much more widespread than people want to admit … Children have legal rights, and if you abuse a child, you’re going to have your day in court and you’re going to be called to answer for it.”

NY Islanders Arena Gets Key State Approval

Islanders Captain Anders Lee carries the puck across the blue line during the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 26th, 2019. (Photo by Joe Nuzzo)

The New York Islanders got a key government panel’s approval Thursday to build a new hockey arena in Elmont as the NHL team prepares to skate from the Brooklyn Barclays Center.

The Empire State Development Corporation unanimously approved the proposal to build the $1.3 billion arena along with a new hotel and retail on a state-owned 43-acre vacant plot of land adjacent to Belmont Park racetrack on the Nassau County-Queens border.

“It’s time to rock and roll and put up that great building to have a home that we can call our own to keep the Islanders on Long Island because the fans deserve this,” said Islanders co-owner John Ledecky.

The complex will include a 19,000-seat arena, 350,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and a 250-room hotel. Once the state Franchise Oversight Board approves the state’s environmental review of the proposal in the coming weeks, construction is slated to begin with the goal of opening the arena in time for the 2021 season. But it’s possible that critics of the plan — such as residents of Floral Park and Elmont concerned about increased traffic — can still sue to try to block the development.

The approval comes a month after state officials announced that a new Long Island Rail Road station will be built to accommodate fans traveling to and from the arena. And it comes two years after they originally pitched the idea to the state.

Long Island’s only professional major league sports team left their original home of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale — where they spent four decades, including their four-straight Stanley Cup-winning seasons — to move to Brooklyn in 2015, but after two years in New York City, the team’s owners started eyeing another home. 

Around the same time that talk of the team returning to the recently renovated coliseum was scuttled, New York Arena Partners — a partnership between the Islanders, Mets, and arena developers Oak View Group — advanced the Elmont plan.

 

Former Nassau Exec Thomas Gulotta Dies

Thomas Gulotta

Thomas Gulotta, a former Republican lawmaker who served as Nassau County executive from 1987 through 2001, presiding over the creation of the Nassau County Legislature, died on August 4. He was 75.

The former Town of Hempstead supervisor and ex-New York State Assemblyman from North Merrick was elected to Nassau’s top job when the county was controlled by what was known as the Board of Supervisors. He was the first county exec to have to work with the 19 members of the Nassau legislature when that body was formed in 1996. He declined to seek re-election to a fifth term following a financial crisis that resulted in a state bailout and the creation of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.

“He was one of the brightest and most gifted elected officials I have met in my years in county government,” said Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park). “He was a hard-working public servant and was counted as a friend by residents in every corner of the county. Tom Gulotta served with distinction and dignity and will be missed.”

Gulotta’s legacy includes the creation of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove, Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, and the Cradle of Aviation Museum, which is the anchor of Museum Row in Garden City. After he left political life, he worked for the law firm of Albanese & Albanese, LLP. He was succeeded by Tom Suozzi, who is now a congressman.

“Tom was a dedicated husband, father, and public servant,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat. “In his career in government that spanned over four decades, Tom served our residents with distinction. In recent years, I was lucky enough to become good friends with both Tom and his wife, Betsy. My heart goes out to Betsy and the whole Gulotta family for their loss.”

He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, brother Frank, son Christopher, and daughter Elizabeth. He was buried at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.

NY Police Called For Backup In Gang-Plagued Hempstead

New York State police

New York State and local law enforcement agencies are joining forces in a new effort to combat a spate of recent gang violence in the Village of Hempstead, where multiple village police commanders were recently arrested.

State police will patrol the village, send technical resources to help village police, and the state will assign a full-time investigator to the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force. Authorities also will form a new task force targeting gangs in the area and increase scrutiny on parolees who are known gang members.

“The situation here is not unique but it is unacceptable: It’s guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them and it’s gang violence,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. 

This isn’t the first time state police have been called in to help local police patrol gang-plagued neighborhoods on Long Island. They started doing the same in Brentwood and Central Islip in 2017 after a string of high-profile MS-13 murders there.

“Families in the Village of Hempstead deserve a safe neighborhood to raise their children in,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who asked Cuomo for help with Hempstead. 

In addition to patrols, the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is sending technical advisors to Hempstead police to assess their needs for License Plate Readers, video cameras, social media analysis, and training. DCJS, Nassau County, and Hempstead village authorities will also form a task force to create longer-term goals to combat gang violence in the village.

That’s in addition to the FBI’s task force, which the state will assign a full-time investigator to from its Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Office of Special Investigations (DOCCS) to enhance gang enforcement activities in the community. DOCCS will also establish specialized gang caseloads for individuals with known gang affiliations on LI who will be placed under intensive supervision.

“We are grateful for any additional resources that the State of New York may provide us, whether financially or with patrol cars, and look forward to working side by side with the state’s extraordinary law enforcement officers,” said Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan.

The Stray Cats Rock Amityville To Kick Off 40th Anniversary Tour

The Stray Cats' drumer Slim Jim Phantom and bassist Lee Rocker donned Massapequa t-shirts while frontman Brian Setzer wore a 9/11 Museum shirt during the encore during their show at Revolution Bar & Music Hall on Aug. 2, 2019. (Long Island Press photo)

Rockabilly rebels The Stray Cats strutted their pompadours Friday to Revolution Bar & Music Hall to rock their hometown fans on Long Island with an intimate show kicking off their 40th anniversary tour — their first in a decade.

Classics, new tunes off 40, their first album in 26 years, and redemption echoed through the invite-only show — tickets were only given to Sirius XM subscribers— since the trio from Massapequa was rejected when they auditioned in 1977 to play at the same Amityville venue, which was then known as Past Times Pub.

“People thought we were nuts,” Brian Setzer, the band’s Grammy-winning singer and guitarist, told the audience of about 300 between songs while recalling the failed tryout. “It’s OK, because here we are now!”

Setzer, whose revival work extends to not only rockabilly, but also swing, with his eponymous 19-member Brian Setzer Orchestra, is considered one of the world’s greatest living guitarists. But for this show, he was back where it all started, on a small local bar’s stage alongside stand-up bassist Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom.

The trio dutifully weaved together the new and the old from their catalog. They opened the set with “Cat Fight” off their new album before launching into “Runaway Boys” and “Double Talkin Baby” off their 1981 self-titled debut, then went back to the latest effort for “3x a Charm,” which they followed up with one of their most popular hits, “Stray Cat Strut” also off their debut.

The Cats then gave a nod to their ‘50s muses and covered Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and gave a shout out to “the king of surf guitar” before playing Dick Dale’s “Misirlou.”

Spicing things up was Lee Rocker taking lead vocals on one of the new ditties, “When Nothing Goes Right.” Setzer took a moment to tell the failed audition story between “(She’s) Sexy and 17” and “Fishnet Stockings” before jokingly asking, “Did we pass the audition?”

They closed out the set with none other than “Rock This Town,” after which Setzer quipped, “Old Massapequa don’t look that bad.” An audience member yelled “welcome home!”

For the encore, Phantom and Rocker came out in Massapequa High School t-shirts, while Setzer wore a 9/11 Museum shirt with the NYPD logo. They closed the night with “Rock It Off,” “Built For Speed,” and “Rumble In Brighton.”

For those who missed it, the Cats play Pier 17 in Manhattan on Aug. 6 and Setzer is squeezing in a local solo show at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Aug. 10 before the band takes their act on the road across the country through the fall.

It looks like they passed that second audition after all.

How To Make A Restaurant-Quality Lobster Roll at Home

Lobster rolls are a summer staple but can be enjoyed all year round.

Summer on Long Island isn’t complete without enjoying a lobster roll at one of the many restaurants across Long Island that serve them, but for those who can’t get enough, the delicious delicacy can easily be made at home.

Long Island native, author, and Chopped champion Chef Eric LeVine who runs 317 Main Street in Farmingdale revealed his secret to preparing the perfect lobster roll — a dish he’s made countless times during his decades in the restaurant industry. His first tip? Don’t cheap out on the key ingredient.

“Make it fresh,” he said, noting that for best results, only Maine lobster bought from a local fish market will do. “Don’t use frozen lobster because the water content it too high.”

Nobody wants a soggy lobster roll. For the same reason, the former Elmont and Valley Stream resident who previously did catering at the Lido Golf Club said that after shelling a fresh lobster, pat the meat dry.

But first things first. When shopping for a fresh lobster, LeVine said finding a female is the goal. Female lobsters can be identified by what look like little hairs on their underbelly, he said. Females also have broader tails than male lobsters.

Related Story: Who Serves The Best Lobster Roll on Long Island?

‘They tend to be sweeter,” said the chef. “They tend to be a little more tender.”

He also advises against putting a lobster in already-boiling water. The best method is to put the lobster in a pot of water and then bring the water to a boil until it reaches 165 degrees. Lobsters should be boiled 10 to 20 minutes.

After the lobster is cooked, shelled, and the meat is patted dry, mix it with one tablespoon of mayonnaise and two tablespoons of lemon juice per pound of lobster meat. Add salt and white pepper.

Another reason to use a female lobster is the possibility of finding roe in the tail. If that happens, run the roe through a cocktail strainer and add it to the recipe while mixing the mayo, meat, and lemon juice. He said the addition is “really tasty.”

The last step is selecting the bun, which should ideally be lightly buttered and toasted. LeVine prefers a brioche bun, but adds that some lobster-roll lovers would rather have it on a hot dog bun. Once toasted and buttered, put the lobster on the bun and enjoy!

Related Story: 10 Long Island Seafood Shacks To Hit This Summer