Timothy Bolger

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.

Singas Declines To Prosecute Ex-NY AG Schneiderman

New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman
Ex-New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas is declining to prosecutor former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for allegations of domestic abuse that led to his resignation in May, her office announced Thursday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had appointed Singas the special prosecutor tasked with investigating domestic and sexual abuse allegations against Schneiderman. Suffolk Count District Attorney Timothy Sini’s office is investigating one of the alleged incidents that occurred in the Hamptons, although the status of that probe was not immediately clear.

“Following an exhaustive review, evaluation of the facts, the law, and applicable statutes of limitations, I have concluded our investigation into the allegations of physical abuse allegedly committed by … Schneiderman without criminal charges,” Singas said in a statement. “I believe the women who shared their experiences with our investigation team, however legal impediments, including statutes of limitations, preclude criminal prosecution.”

Schneiderman announced his resignation three hours after a bombshell report in The New Yorker magazine detailing similar claims from four women recounting physical abuse by the AG. The story described two of Schneiderman’s ex-girlfriends claims that the AG — who held himself out as an advocate for women’s rights in the wake of the #MeToo movement — allegedly slapped, choked and emotionally abused them without consent.

A high-profile attorney who remained anonymous was quoted in the magazine as detailing a sexually aggressive encounter with Schneiderman that left her frightened following a party in the Hamptons in the summer of 2016.

After his resignation, State Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood was appointed Acting New York State Attorney General, making her the first woman to hold the title. Democrat Letitia James, who was elected to be the next Attorney General on Tuesday, will be the first African-American woman to hold the post when she takes office in January.

Singas said that she “personally interviewed each of the women who cooperated with our investigation along with their attorneys” as well as members of Schneiderman’s security detail, employees, and a potential witnesses. Although she declined to press charges against Schneiderman, she did recommend legislation to correct what she called “deficiencies in New York law.”

Some Upsets in NY Assembly Races on Long Island

Left to right: Taylor Raynor and Deputy Assembly Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead).

Three New York State Assembly members were unseated Tuesday, most notably the anticipated ousting of Deputy Assembly Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), a 30-year-incumbent.

Democrat Taylor Raynor, who beat Hooper in September’s Democratic primary, trounced Republican James Lamarre with 81 percent of the vote on Election Day, according to unofficial early returns tallied by the state Board of Elections. Democrat Judy Griffin unseated eight-year state Assemb. Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook) with 51 to 46 percent of the vote. And Republican Mike LiPetri unseated state Assemb. Christine Pellegrino (D-West Islip) by a margin of 54 to 42 percent.

in addition, Republicans won two state Assembly seats vacated by GOP incumbents.

Republican Joseph DeFestano beat Democrat Clyde Parker 51 to 43 percent in the race to replace outgoing state Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue), who lost his bid for state Senate on Tuesday.

And Republican Douglas Smith beat Democrat Timothy Hall 56 to 39 percent in the race to replace Smith’s former boss, state Assemb. Al Graf (R-Holbrook), who became a District Court judge in April.

Long Island’s other 17 state Assembly members were re-elected. The Assembly remains in the Democratic majority.

Democrats Win NY Senate Majority After Long Island Upsets

constitutional convention
The New York State Capitol Building in Albany.

Democrats unseated three Republican New York State Senators on Long Island and picked up a fourth LI State Senate seat previously held by a Republican, likely flipping the balance of power from GOP to Democratic control in the state’s upper legislative chamber, according to unofficial early returns from the state Board of Elections.

In a rematch of a razor-thin 2016 race, Democratic Suffolk County Water Authority Chairman James Gaughran unseated 23-year incumbent state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) 54 to 43 percent, results show. Democratic Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan ousted freshman state Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) 53 to 44 percent, results show. And 29-year-incumbent Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) is two percentage points behind Democratic challenger Kevin Thomas, who declared victory.

In Suffolk, Suffolk County Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) beat State Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) 50 to 47 percent in the race to replace retiring state Sen. Tom Croci (R-Bohemia) in the 3rd Senate District. 

“This is an historic night in New York State,” Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs told supporters.

It is the first time in a decade that the Democrats may control the state Senate, where Republicans have long been the lone check on Democratic power in state government. The GOP’s current one-vote majority hinges on a lone Democratic senator that votes with the Republicans. Before that, a since-ousted faction called the Independent Democratic Conference voted with Republicans to give the GOP a majority.

It’s a stunning development considering  all nine LI state Senate seats were solidly Republican not long ago. Now, the GOP holds just three of those seats.

“Today, voters braved the rain and came out across the North Shore of Long Island and I’m honored that they chose me, a Jewish refugee from Iran, to be their next State Senator,” Kaplan said. “We now have an important responsibility to protect Long Island taxpayers, protect women’s reproductive health rights and do more to end the scourge of gun violence. I look forward to the opportunity to getting to work for all Long Islanders and New Yorkers.”

The other five members of Long Island’s State Senate delegation, including New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport), were all re-elected.

“New York voters spoke loud and clear today as they shifted the power in the New York State Senate,” said Long Island Progressive Coalition Director Lisa Tyson. “For decades the NYS Republican Senate have blocked reforms that would improve people’s lives. We have new leadership in the Senate that must stand up and fight for progressive changes throughout the state.”

All 5 Long Island Congressional Reps Re-elected

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (Photo by DAVID ILIFF)

The blue wave of voters that flipped the U.S. House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic control Tuesday did not cause any congressional upsets on Long Island this Election Day.

All five of LI’s congressional representatives won re-election, although some by closer calls than others, according to unofficial early returns tallied by the New York State Board of Elections.

In the Island’s East End swing district, two-term U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) beat Democratic businessman Perry Gershon, returns show. And U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) declared victor in his bid for his 14th term against Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley, who made national headlines when the Federal Elections Commission unprecedentedly allowed her to use campaign funds to pay for child care while she’s on the trail.

Early returns show King beat Shirley 52 to 45 percent and Zeldin beating Gershon by the same percentage, with the majority of precincts reporting.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) beat Republican challenger Dan DeBono with 57 percent of the vote. And by an even great margin, U.S. Rep Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) declared victory over Ameer Benno, a Republican attorney challenging the two-term congresswoman.

Running unopposed for his eleventh term was U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), whose district includes part of southwestern Nassau County.

-With Eden Laikin

Cuomo Wins 3rd Term As NY Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo beat Republican rival Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won his third term as New York’s top elected official Tuesday, fending off a challenge from Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.

Letitia James, the Democratic nominee for New York State Attorney General, became the first African-American woman to hold the title of the state’s top law enforcement post. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was re-elected along with New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a Democrat from Long Island who declared victory over Republican Jonathan Trichter. And New York State Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was re-elected to a second term. 

The Associated Press projected the governor’s win one minute after the polls closed at 9 p.m. His re-election comes amid increasing speculation that Cuomo will mount a bid to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.

“I am humbled by the support of New York,” Cuomo told cheering supporters during his victory speech in New York City. “I will work every day to vindicate the confidence that the people of New York have put in me.”

Also running were Howie Hawkins on the Green Party line, Libertarian Larry Sharpe and Stephanie A. Miner, who ran on the Serve America Movement party line.

The gubernatorial race was at the top of the ticket during the mid-term elections in which election officials reported above-average turnout, as voters heeded calls to consider this Election Day a referendum on Trump’s policies. Cuomo spent much of his victory speech attacking the president.

“Today’s election made clear, this state is not buying what Trump is selling,” Cuomo said, calling Trump a fraud. “We are not a nation of red states and blue states, we are a nation of red, white and blue states.”

This is a breaking news update. Check back as the story develops.

Pirate’s Booty: Long Island’s Looted Cheddar

Pirate's Booty is billed as the healthy snack food. (Photo by Mike Mozart)

Robert Ehrlich of Sea Cliff was a commodities trader studying consumer habits when he had a multimillion-dollar idea while reading product labels in the snack-food aisle of his local supermarket.

Marveling at how cheese was not listed as an ingredient in cheese puffs, Ehrlich set sail in 1987 to plunder his piece of the bloated American snack-food market armed with Pirate’s Booty all-natural white-cheddar cheese rice and corn puffs — a healthier alternative to traditional junk food.

“Most of the ingredients [in cheese puffs] you couldn’t even pronounce,” Ehrlich told Columbia University News Service.

Pirate’s Booty struck gold. A decade later, the puffs were being sold in stores nationwide, earning $50 million in annual sales. The parent company Ehrlich founded, Robert’s American Gourmet Food, later dubbed Pirate Brands, also made Smart Puffs and Original Tings.

The success was not without scandal. The Good Housekeeping Institute found that Pirate’s Booty was mislabeled as low fat, when it in fact had 8.5 grams of fat, not 2.5 grams as advertised at the time. The company blamed a manufacturing snafu, corrected the labels and reformulated Pirate’s Booty so it now has 5 grams of fat.

Despite the drama, corporate profiteers found their way to Long Island to dig up the cheese-dusted treasure. Ehrlich’s partner, Mike Repole, negotiated a deal to sell the Pirate’s Booty snack group to New Jersey-based B&G Foods — the baked beans, Cream of Wheat and bagel crisp maker — for $195 million in 2013. The next day, the new owners laid off all 55 employees of the Sea Cliff Pirate’s Booty plant.

Ehrlich, who made $70 million in the deal, has since launched a new healthy snack: SexyPop, a nutritious popcorn. Last month, news broke that B&G is selling Pirate Brands to The Hershey Company for $420 million, more than double the price B&G paid five years ago. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

No word if a chocolate-flavored Pirate’s Booty will follow.

Second Tornado Hits Suffolk in 1 Month

A tornado touched down Monday morning on Fishers Island, an exclusive community off the coast of the East End, but no injuries or fatalities were reported, according to the National Weather Service.

The twister was rated an EFO, the weakest on the tornado scale, with winds up to 85 mph, the same as another twister that hit Ronkonkoma four weeks ago, NWS said. The Fishers Island tornado traveled about two miles beginning 7:35 a.m. Monday, but the width of its path is unknown. Numerous trees and power lines were down across the island. 

“Small buildings were removed off their foundations,” Upton-based NWS meteorologists said in a preliminary report. “There are numerous power outages across the island and numerous boats were tossed around near the water.”

The report indicated that the tornado started as a water spout before moving over land, becoming and tornado, then moved back offshore as a waterspout. 

NWS officials are conducting an on-site investigation to survey the damage with local officials on Wednesday.

The ferry to Fishers Island connects with Connecticut, which the island is closer to, but the community falls under the umbrella of the Town of Southold and Suffolk County.

The twister comes after another small tornado touched down in Ronkonkoma on Oct. 2. Before that, the last time a tornado hit Long Island was in 2016, when another small tornado hit Mattituck, although a twister touched down in Whitestone, Queens several months ago.

And the last tornado to hit LI before the Mattituck twister was in 2012. That tornado traveled from Great River to Lake Ronkonkoma.

13 Scary Movies With Long Island Ties

13. The Flesh Eaters (1964)
An actress and her assistant survive a plane crash and become deserted on an island with their pilot. Survival mode comes with a twist, as they do their best to ward off flesh-eating marine life, put there by an evil Nazi scientist. Set in Rhode Island, the movie was filmed on LI.

12. Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

A man inherits a New England mansion that used to be an insane asylum, his family moves in and everyone dies on Christmas Eve. Filmed at Butler mansion in Mill Neck. Alternate titles: Death House and Night Of The Dark Full Moon.

11. Madman (1981)

Not long after Friday The 13th debuted, this slasher flick followed a similar theme of a serial killer offing teens at a summer camp. Shot at Southampton’s Fish Cove Inn.

10. Poltergeist (1982)Among the most popular horror movies of all time, it follows a family’s discovery that their home is haunted by the ghosts of the graveyard the house is built on. This one isn’t filmed on Long Island, but is reportedly inspired by events that are said to have occurred in Seaford. It was remade in 2015.

9. Vampire’s Embrace (1991)
A classic love story of a man searching for another shot at love, and falls for the woman of his dreams. There’s only one problem, she’s actually a 200-year-old vampire. Aerial shots of Huntington were used in the film.

8. Wolf (1994)

A publisher in a slump gets bitten by a wolf, gets back on top, but slowly turns into a werewolf in this romantic horror starring Jack Nicholson. The film was partly shot in Old Westbury.

7. 5 Dead on Crimson Canvas (1996)

A brother investigating the murder of his death-obsessed artist brother uncovers a dark secret. Shot in Glen Cove.

6. Final Destination (2000)

A teen and his friends cheat death by getting off a plane before it explodes on takeoff. But death then stalks them one by one. The plane scene was shot on Long Island. The franchise is now up to part 7.

5. Infested (2002)Five childhood friends are reunited at their favorite vacation home. What they thought was going to be a relaxing reunion, soon turns into their worst nightmare. Mutant killer flies have taken over their beloved vacation home, and are out for blood. The movie was shot on the North Fork.

4. Malevolence (2003)A kidnapping victim who witnessed unspeakable crimes at the hands of a madman is discovered years later. This indie hit that became a series was supposed to be shot on Long Island, but the original farmhouse located was foreclosed on.

3. Witchmaster General (2009)While most hit men work for money, this one takes the souls of those that hire him. Shot on Long Island.

2. Sinister (2012)When a true crime writer researching his next book finds old home movies of a family’s murder, he unleashes a demon. The film was partly shot in Sands Point and Muttontown. The movie led to a sequel, but an anticipated part three was scrapped.

  1. The Amityville HorrorThe tagline “Based on a true story” is widely disputed but spawned series of more than 20 horror movies remade every few years ever since that phrase appeared on the cover of the original book of the same name in 1977. It easily ranks as LI’s most infamous horror flick.

-With Christa Ganz

Ex-Sen. Dean Skelos Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison for Corruption

Dean Skelos
Ex-New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre)

Disgraced ex-New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was sentenced Wednesday following his federal corruption retrial conviction.

U.S. Judge Kimba Wood sentenced the 70-year-old former senator to four years and three months in prison and ordered him to pay a $500,000 fine. The former lawmaker’s son, Adam Skelos, was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the scheme.

A jury had found father and son guilty in July of extortion, wire fraud and other counts following their second trial at Manhattan federal court. Their defense attorneys had their 2015 convictions overturned on the grounds that the U.S. Supreme Court had limited the scope what defines corruption by elected officials.

Prosecutors said Dean pressured Roslyn-based medical malpractice firm Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers (PRI), New Hyde Park-based developer Glenwood Management and Arizona-based storm water filter manufacturer AbTech Industries for no-show jobs and payments for his son in exchange for favorable legislative treatment. All three companies had business before the state at the time.

The former senator was once the top-elected Republican in the state, the most powerful lawmaker on Long Island and one of the so-called three men in a room — the other being Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Assembly Speaker — that shape the state’s legislative and budget agenda.

The second conviction came shortly after former Cuomo aides were convicted in a separate corruption case and Skelos’ former counterpart, ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), was also convicted again at his recent retrial. Skelos and Silver were originally on trial at the same time. 

In 2016, Judge Kimba Wood had sentenced Dean to five years in prison and Adam to 6 1/2 years in prison. But execution of their first sentence was stayed pending the appeal. 

The biggest difference between the two trials was the fact that the former senator opted to testify in his own defense this time around. Adam once again declined to exercise that right. The defense is expected to appeal the conviction a second time.

Related Story: An Inside Look At How Skelos Trial Exposed Slimy Side Of NY Politics

How Homeowners Can Get Ready Before The Next Big Storm

A carpenter measures a window for hurricane shutters as dark storm clouds gather overhead. (Photo by Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock)

Ongoing efforts to repair catastrophic wind and flood damage that Superstorm Sandy brought to Long Island six years ago this month are a lingering reminder of the region’s vulnerability to severe weather.

Many homeowners — especially those with waterfront property — have hired contractors to perform such storm-hardening work as raising houses up on posts, installing backup power generators, and upgrading to impact-resistant windows or shutters. But others simply repaired the damage done without better protecting their homes from inevitable damage the next time a major storm rolls ashore.

“We know that it’s not if, but when, a disaster will strike,” says Nicolette Louissaint, Ph.D., executive director of Healthcare Ready. “Disasters can be unpredictable and cause widespread destruction across communities, so it is essential individuals do their part and prepare as much as possible.”

Although 72 percent of Americans think natural disasters are occurring more often, fewer than a quarter have prepared their homes for severe weather, according to a study the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America released last year. Only 22 percent of Americans have a disaster response plan, 18 percent have conducted a home inventory, and 23 percent have taken action to mitigate storm damage their property, the study showed.

While the Atlantic Hurricane Season peaks in late August and early September, as Sandy showed when it hit days before Halloween, a late-season tropical cyclone is still possible, albeit less likely. After all, the season runs June 1 to November 30.

So what else can residents do to prepare their homes for a major storm beyond the oft-repeated personal-protection directives to charge mobile devices, clear yards of potential projectiles, have an evacuation plan, take out cash, and pack a storm kit for worst-case scenarios?

Insurance experts suggest residents take an inventory of valuables that could become damaged in the event of having to report a loss. This can include taking photos of those valuables. Homeowners and renters should also talk with their insurer before a storm hits in order to be clear on what types of damage are covered, as most policies do not cover flooding.

“Having flood insurance meant having one thing less to worry about,” said Rupi Prasad, who lost almost everything in Hurricane Harvey.

In addition, there are several basic steps that homeowners can take to help prevent or minimize the impact of flooding, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency suggests homeowners that live in a high-flood-risk area elevate their furnace, water heater and electric panel.

FEMA also recommends installing “check valves” to prevent floodwater from backing up into drains. And homeowners can seal walls in their basement with waterproofing compounds. But what is one to do if the next storm comes sooner than a contractor can complete such projects? Sandbagging basement doors and any other ground-level doorways during the storm event is a perfectly acceptable stop-gap measure.

And although as a coastal area LI is more likely to face flooding, as the recent tornado that touched down in Ronkonkoma showed, residents should not discount the threat of wind damage, either.