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.

How United Way of Long Island Helps Fulfill Unmet Need

The United Way of Long Island opened "the house that veterans built" in Huntington Station on Nov. 13.

Reducing poverty in low-income neighborhoods. Offering housing opportunities for people with AIDS. Helping those struggling to make ends meet pay their home heating bill. Building homes for the homeless. Scholarships galore.

These are just some of the many health, education and anti-poverty projects underway at the United Way of Long Island, the local chapter of the 130-year-old global nonprofit that’s forged more than 100 partnerships with the goal of increasing impact and reducing costs. They aim to help entire communities at a time, but they don’t just help “those people.”

“The fact of the matter is ‘those people’ are us,” says Theresa Regnante, president and CEO of the United Way of Long Island. “And everybody needs to be treated with the same level of respect.”

In nearly a decade of running the group, Regnante has seen requests for assistance come from residents across LI — often those that don’t make enough to survive, but make too much to qualify for government assistance.

Among their top initiatives of late is helping veterans. Last month, the group held a grand opening for “the house that vets built” in Huntington Station, their third such venture on LI. Veterans who moved into the house won’t have to worry about the electric bill since it’s a zero-energy home — a house so energy efficient it won the group its third consecutive award from the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Anybody who goes out and fights for the homeland should have a house to come home to,” Regnante says, adding that it’s “not sustainable to move them into a house with a big LIPA bill.”

But the biggest need on the Island isn’t something that can be calculated as easily as a poverty rate or donation check.

“There has got to be more people that have compassion,” Regnante says. “The biggest need is really having more people to have compassion. If you’re lucky enough to walk through life being able to give back, you should. Eighty percent of humanity is not that way.”

2 Men Shot to Death in Medford

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Morguefile photo

Two 29-year-old men were shot and killed in front of a residence in Medford early Saturday morning, Suffolk County police said.

Joshua Young and Cristino Gomez II were shot in front of 3102 Falcon Ave. at 1 a.m., police said. Young, of Coram, and Gomez, of Medford, were taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, where they were pronounced dead. No arrests have been made.

Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation. They ask anyone with information regarding this shooting to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential.

Maine Maid Inn Reborn as One North

Scotto Bros. gave the historic old Maine Maid Inn a face life and now it's One North

One North, the Scotto Brothers’ new Mediterranean seafood restaurant, debuted Nov. 13 in the renovated former Maine Maid Inn, a historic landmark in Jericho that was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The much-anticipated opening comes after the restaurateurs spent millions modernizing the structure, which had fallen into disrepair before they purchased it in 2013. The result is an upscale casual locale serving up coastal European-inspired cuisine with an open kitchen concept and private banquet rooms.

“I think it’s by far the nicest restaurant on Long Island today,” said Anthony Scotto, president of the restaurant’s parent company. “It is something Long Island has never seen.”

Scotto leads a hospitality group that also runs Blackstone Steakhouse in Melville, Rare 650 Prime Steak & Sushi in Syosset, Insignia Prime Steak & Sushi in Smithtown, and several catering halls and hotels.

One North proved unique from the start. The Town of Oyster Bay gave the house, built in 1789, landmark status a year before Scotto bought it. The new owners took care to maintain the historic character of the building by reusing some materials and replicating others that couldn’t be salvaged. Patrons will find it a welcoming space with warmth and texture, rustic wood and high-end décor.

“The menu, like the place, is very different,” Scotto said.

Executive Chef Ron Gelish cooked up a menu that includes whole fish, imported burrata and meats, сrudo, fresh and distinct pasta and salads, delectable desserts and a top-flight wine list.

What’s more, Scotto donated the first week of sales to three causes: Heroes to Heroes Foundation, Cohen Children’s Medical Center and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

One Main is located at 4 Old Jericho Tpke. in Jericho. They can be reached at onenorthrestaurant.com or 516-605-1400.

NY Islanders Win Bid to Build New Arena in Elmont

New York Islanders sale
New York Islanders John Tavares shoots against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, May 11, 2013. (Photo by Joe Nuzzo)

The New York Islanders won their bid to build a new arena at Belmont Park in Elmont, making real fans’ hope that the NHL team will skate home to Long Island.

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.

“When the Islanders left, they left a hole in the heart of Long Island,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told fans and supporters during a news conference Wednesday. “The islanders are back where they belong.”

The project is estimated to create more than 12,000 construction jobs and over 3,100 permanent jobs. Built on 36 acres of parking lots and vacant space next to the Belmont racetrack that hosts the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, the area surrounding the new arena will include a full service hotel as well as 435,000 square feet of dining and retail. 

The rebooted New York Cosmos soccer team previously proposed building a stadium on the site, but the Empire State Development Corp. scrapped that and other bids made years ago. The Cosmos then moved to Brooklyn.

The Islanders left the coliseum in Uniondale, their original home, and moved to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015 after multiple failed attempts to renovate The Old Barn, as fans call the coliseum. Among the factors for choosing Belmont over returning to the coliseum is the reduced seating capacity at the Uniondale arena and the fact that Belmont has a Long Island Rail Road station.

Earlier this year, reports emerged that the Isles were looking to leave Barclays and find a new home, reigniting hope that they might return to the recently renovated coliseum, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the coliseum is “not a long-term option.”

Cuomo noted at the news conference that he’s hoping Bettman will allow the Islanders to play at least some of their games at the coliseum before the new arena is built.

Investors in the new arena include Sterling Project Development, Madison Square Garden Co. and private equity firm Oak View Group, the Press previously reported. Sterling is owned by the Wilpon family, who also own the NY Mets, while MSG is run by the Dolan family, who also own the NY Rangers and the NY Knicks.

“While it’s certainly an interesting proposal for the Rangers to take ownership in the arena of an arch-rival, it would at least bring the Islanders back to Nassau County,” outgoing Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has said.

“I am excited to finally welcome the Islanders home to Nassau County,” Nassau County Executive-elect Laura Curran said. “As County Executive, I’ll make sure we work with the local community and stakeholders to make sure the area is developed with their input. Economic development at Belmont will benefit all Nassau County taxpayers.”

Bettman suggested that Billy Joel may play the first show opening the new arena, which the commissioner said will host concerts as well as sports.

“If you’re an Islander fan or your an Islander player, you’ve got a lot to be excited about,” he said.

Did French Pilots Beat Charles Lindbergh’s Transatlantic Flight Record?

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Charles Lindbergh stands tall next to the plane that he flew to Paris on May 20, 1927. He designed the cockpit so the pilot sits behind the gas tank, relying on a periscope to see ahead. (Photo courtesy Cradle of Aviation Museum)

Parisian officials reportedly erected a plaque that suggests French pilots beat Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 record for the first transatlantic flight by two weeks — but American aviation historians maintain “Lucky Lindy” was first.

Paris city council recently unveiled plaques on a street named for Charles Nungesser and François Coli, whose biplane was lost while they tried to fly from Paris to New York in May 1927, The Times of London reported. The plaque credits the duo with “crossing the Atlantic” and replaces a prior plaque that noted they “disappeared while crossing the Atlantic,” the newspaper reported.

“It is for us just a matter of updating facts which give a better understanding of what happened 90 years ago,” Catherine Vieu-Charier, a deputy mayor of Paris, told The Times.

The revision follows French historian Bernard Decré’s claim that Nungesser and Coli crashed in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the French archipelago off Newfoundland. Although the wreckage was never found, Decré is planning an expedition next year to find it. While noting that the city didn’t contest Lindbergh’s record, The Times added the French newspaper Le Figaro reported the theory “unseats Charles Lindbergh from his first place.”

Nungesser and Coli were trying to be the first to fly from mainland Europe to North America. Two British pilots had flown from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1919. Lindbergh was the first to fly solo from Long Island to Paris.

Experts, including those at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, maintain that despite the new Parisian plaques, Lindbergh still holds the title.

“Nungesser and Collie… disappeared at sea, period,” said Robert Ragozzino, who runs charleslindbergh.com. “It could be argued they crash landed on the North American continent and were never found, nor their aircraft after 90 years. Sorry, Lindy gets this one.”

News of Paris rewriting their pilots’ plaques came in October, shortly before Lesso Home, a Chinese building material and interior design company, announced their planned $25-million renovation of the Source Mall, which was built on the site of the former air strip where Lindbergh took off for Paris. Signage at the re-branded mall includes of silhouette of Lindbergh’s plane, The Spirit of Saint Louis and the developers invoked the historic flight during a news conference announcing the renovation.

“That’s fake news,” Gary Lewi, a military historian and spokesman for Lesso Home, said when asked about the Parisian claim after the announcement. “If they want to rewrite history, that’s their business.”

A sculpture at The Source Mall marks the spot where Lindbergh’s plane finally got off the ground for good. (Spencer Rumsey/Long Island Press)
A sculpture at The Source Mall marks the spot where Lindbergh’s plane finally got off the ground for good.
(Spencer Rumsey/Long Island Press)

Ex-Suffolk Cop Admits Causing Fatal DWI Crash

An ex-Suffolk County police officer has admitted to driving drunk the wrong way on Sunrise Highway and causing the head-on crash that killed a 37-year-old man in Bay Shore last year.

Robert Scheuerer, who was fired after he was indicted, pleaded guilty Monday at Suffolk County court to one count of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Prosecutors said the 26-year-old ex-cop fronm Farmingdale had a blood alcohol content of 0.17 percent — more than double the legal limit — over an hour after he drove his Nissan Pathfinder eastbound in the westbound lanes of Route 27, crashing into a van driven by Brian J. Fusaro at 4:40 a.m. Sept. 27, 2016.

Scheuerer had 10 pints of beer and a Margarita prior to the crash, according to investigators. Fusaro was trapped in his vehicle and he burned to death, authorities said.

Judge Fernando Camacho promised to sentence Scheuerer to three to nine years in prison in exchange for the plea. Prosecutors had recommended four to 12 years. He originally faced up to 25 years in prison.

Scheuerer, who was a Third Precinct officer on force for one year at the time, was off duty when the crash occurred. He has been free on $250,000 bail. He is scheduled to begin serving his sentence Jan. 18.

Brentwood Woman Accused of Sending Money to ISIS

A Brentwood woman was arrested Wednesday for allegedly laundering more than $85,000 using Bitcoin and sending it to ISIS, the international terrorist organization based in Syria and Iraq, federal prosecutors said.

Zoobia Shahnaz was charged with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering at Central Islip federal court.

“Syria is a perilous and violent war-torn country, but the subject in this investigation was allegedly so determined to assist ISIS that she planned a covert, illegal entry into Syria,” said William Sweeney, Jr., assistant director of the FBI’s New York office. “On top of which, she allegedly tried to launder virtual currency to bolster terrorists’ dwindling financial support.”

Prosecutors said the 27-year-old US citizen fraudulently applied for more than a dozen credit cards that she used to purchase Bitcoin, then transferred the funds to shell entities in Pakistan, China and Turkey. The ultimate destination for the money was the Islamic State, according to investigators. Her lawyer maintains that she was sending the money to help Syrian refugees. 

Law enforcement questioned her in July when she tried to board a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Islamabad, Pakistan with a multi-day layover in Istanbul, Turkey, which authorities said is a common point of entry for individuals travelling from Western countries to join ISIS in Syria.

Shahnaz faces up to 30 years in prison, if convicted. Federal authorities thanked Suffolk County police for their assistance in the investigation.

She is the eighth person with Long Island ties implicated in a terror plot since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Bryant Neal Vinas of Patchogue, an al-Qaeda recruit-turned-informant, was released from jail this year.

Westbury native Samir Khan, the one-time editor of al-Qaeda’s magazine, was killed in a drone strike in Yemen six years ago. Mohammad Younis of Centereach pleaded guilty in 2011 to unwittingly providing $7,000 to Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square Bomber. And Elvis Redzepagic, of Commack, was arrested in March for trying to join ISIS.

In addition, fellow Brentwood residents Marcos Alonso Zea and Justin Kaliebe were sentenced two years ago to 25 years and 13 years in prison, respectively, for trying to join al-Qaeda. And Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, who grew up in Westbury, pledged allegiance to ISIS during the Orlando massacre.

Bloods Member Charged in 2007 North Bellport Murder

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A reputed member of the Bloods street gang has been indicted for allegedly shooting and killing a 15-year-old boy in the victim’s hometown of North Bellport a decade ago, federal authorities said.

Trendell Walker pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder as well as gun and drug charges in a 12-count indictment at Central Islip federal court. The 29-year-old alleged gang member from Patchogue is accused of killing Alvin Brothers in 2007.

“Alvin had barely begun to start his young life when he was taken from us,” Suffolk County Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) said upon dedicating a bench in the victim’s honor on the first anniversary of the slaying.

The victim was standing on the corner of Post Avenue and Patchogue Avenue when he was shot while walking home from a anti-crime National Night Out event aimed at fostering relations between police and the community shortly before midnight on Aug. 7, 2007, authorities have said.

The shooter fled in a vehicle. Brothers was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly later.

The shooting in part inspired lawmakers to push for the installations of Shot Spotter in North Bellport and other high-crime Suffolk communities. The gunshot detection system helps police respond more quickly to shootings, improving chances of catching culprits sooner.

Walker, who investigators said is also known as “Live Wire” and “Debo,” was additionally charged with possession of a firearm, using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin and PCP, among other counts, according to court documents.

The suspect was being held at the federal detention center in Brooklyn on prior charges from last year prior to the addition of the murder count, records show. Prosecutors are reportedly considering seeking the death penalty in the case.

Four Long Island Mobsters Charged With Racketeering, Feds Say

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

Four Long Island men are among seven reputed mobsters arrested for allegedly running loansharking, illegal gambling and drug dealing rings on LI and in Brooklyn over the past three years, authorities said.

Huntington residents John “Johnny Boy” Ambrosio, 74, and Anthony Rodolico, 46, were charged along with 67-year-old Anthony Saladino and 26-year-old Joseph Durso, both of Glen Cove. All are facing racketeering conspiracy charges in a 13-count indictment unsealed Tuesday at Central Islip federal court.

“The arrests in this case prove organized crime families haven’t gone away, and continue to plague our communities with their general disregard for anything other than their own greed,” said William Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York Field office. “The overt deadly attacks that used to make headlines aren’t as prevalent, but their violent tactics haven’t changed.”

Authorities said Ambrosio is an acting captain in the Gambino family and the other suspects are associates of the Gambino family, except for 46-year-old Frank “Frankie Boy” Salerno Queens, an alleged soldier in the Bonanno family. The other two suspects from Queens are Alessandro “Sandro” Damelio, 49, and Thomas Anzalone, 44.

Suffolk County police also worked on the investigation into the mob’s illegitimate casino, illegal loan shark operation and distribution of cocaine and marijuana. Investigators used wiretapped phone conversations to make their case.

Recorded conversations between Saladino and Anzalone captured the men allegedly discussing that they would give debtors “something to be scared about” and warning debtors they “will never walk again.”

The gambling operations included illegal poker games, electronic gaming machines and internet sports betting run by Damelio, Durso, Salerno and Saladino. Ambrosio was recorded allegedly saying “you can play right here” and “save gas money” by not going to the casino.

Anzalone, Damelio, Durso, Saladino and Salerno were also accused of trafficking in wholesale quantities of cocaine, marijuana and Xanax.

Most of the suspects face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, except Saladino and Salerno, who face up to life in prison for the cocaine conspiracy offenses.

Up to 7 Inches of Snow Forecast for Long Island

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A winter storm is forecast to bring 4-to-7 inches of snow to Long Island on Saturday in what is shaping up to be the first snowfall of the cold season, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for most of Suffolk County and a winter weather advisory for Nassau Saturday through Sunday mornings.

“Highest snow accumulation should occur Saturday morning into Saturday evening,” NWS meteorologists in the agency’s Upton office said in a statement. “Be prepared for significant reductions in visibility at times. Snow accumulation on pavement will be more
likely in the afternoon and evening.”

The advisory is also in effect for New York City, southern Connecticut and northern New Jersey.

“Plan on hazardous travel conditions,” forecasters said, noting snow-covered roads will make driving difficult. “Be prepared for reduced visibilities at times.”

The snow is expected to start after 9 a.m. Saturday, when temperatures will reach a high of 33, but the wind chill will make it feel between 25 and 30. The snow is expected to taper off by midnight.

After the storm passes, Sunday and Monday are forecast as sunny, but a 30-percent chance of more snow and rain is possible Tuesday.