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.

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

Venditto Pleads Guilty To Corruption Charges

John Venditto
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, left, leaving federal court in Central Islip with his attorney on Thursday, Oct. 20.

Disgraced ex-Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto has admitted to corruption in a plea deal that will spare him serving any time behind bars following his 2017 arrest.

For former lawmaker pleaded guilty Friday at Nassau County court to a felony charge of corrupt use of position or authority and a misdemeanor count of official misconduct. Charges of defrauding the government and conspiracy were dropped in exchange for the plea. 

“Our investigation uncovered pervasive corruption in the Town of Oyster Bay where the powerful and connected used the government to benefit themselves at the expense of the taxpayers they were sworn to serve,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said. “This felony plea by former Town Supervisor Venditto sends a strong message that corruption will not be tolerated in Nassau County and my office will pursue these cases aggressively without fear or favor.”

Nassau prosecutors said the 70-year-old Massapequa man directed former town Parks Commissioner Frank Nocerino to hire an individual at the behest of Frederick Ippolito, the former town planning commissioner from Syosset who died in prison this year at age 78 after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion. The employee, who paid more than twice the rate of others in his position, was hired while the town was considering layoffs due to a financial crisis, authorities noted.

Later, Ippolito—who was already convicted at the time—ordered the employee be fired, according to investigators. Venditto and Richard Porcelli, deputy executive leader of the North Massapequa Republican Club, agreed to fire the employee, but also fired others to divert attention from the firing, prosecutors said.

Nocerino and Porcelli were each charged with official misconduct in the case. Porcelli was also charged with conspiracy. They both pleaded not guilty and their trials are pending.

Venditto was sentenced to three years conditional discharge. He had faced up to four years in prison on the felony.

Venditto was acquitted last year of federal corruption charges in a separate case. His co-defendants in that case, fellow Republican former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, and Mangano’s wife, Linda, were convicted following a retrial in March.

Boy Racing Across The Nation For Pediatric Cancer Survivors Joining Long Island Fun Run

Matteo Lambert

A 9-year-old Virginia boy who is running 32 different 5Ks in 15 states to raise money for kids with cancer will be participating in a race in Wantagh on Saturday.

Matteo Lambert, who made it his mission to run 100 miles in support of the charity Hopecam, which uses technology to connect kids in treatment to their classmates, will be among the runners hitting the road for the Purple Ribbon 5K Run/Walk this weekend.

“I love using my legs to support kids and my friends … with cancer,” Lambert told the Vancouver Sun after a recent race in Canada. “Last year I participated in my school’s 5K run, pretty unsure if I could finish. I ran a good time. So, I ran another 5K, and another one, and, well, you know how the story goes — I’m hooked.” 

Founded by a Binghamton University student in honor of his grandmother who passed away due to pancreatic cancer, proceeds of the Purple Ribbon 5K race will be donated to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

For each race Lambert is in, he “borrows” the superpowers of a Hopecam pediatric cancer survivor, a photo of whom will adorn the cape he wears while running. In the Purple Ribbon Run, Lambert will borrow the powers of  Benjamin, a leukemia patient from Baldwin Place in Westchester County. After each race, he sends the cape and any winning medals to the child. So far he’s raised $25,000 — far exceeding his $5,000 initial goal.

Lambert, who has made national headlines for his mission, most recently made news when he traveled last week to Chicago to meet his hero, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, a pediatric cancer survivor.

“You are an inspiration,” read a note that Lambert gave Rizzo on Friday, evoking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. “Let’s help kids be kids. Give us a moonshot.” 

Rizzo, who hadn’t hit a homerun in more than a month, came up in the third inning while bases were loaded, the Cubs had two outs, and were trailing the Padres 0-3. Rizzo then hit a go-ahead grand slam out of Wrigley Field — his 20th homer of the year — paving the way for the Cubs to beat the Padres 6-5. Lambert then ran his 20th race on his mission — and his first 10K, finishing in the top 10 percent. 

Lambert also has upcoming races at Camden Yards on Aug. 3,  Kansas City’s Kaufmann Stadium on Aug. 10, Nats Park on Sept. 21, and several other races and events along the way.

The Purple Ribbon 5K Run/Walk will start and finish at Forest Lake Elementary School, 3100 Beltagh Ave. in Wantagh. For more information, visit purpleribbonrun.com Fee: $6-$30. 8 a.m. July 27.

Dog Walking App Wag Puts Pups At Risk, Long Island Woman Claims in Lawsuit

The dog-walker app Wag fails to properly train employees who are accused of killing at least 11 dogs in recent years, a Long Island woman alleged in a federal class action lawsuit filed this month.

The lead plaintiff, Barbara Meli, of Nassau County, and two other women filed the claim seeking $5 million in damages against the $7 billion California-based app in Central Islip federal court on July 1. The suit alleges the company violated New York State business law, negligently misrepresented its serves in its advertising, and unjustly enriched itself.

“Wag reaps huge profits in this new age of a mostly unregulated gig economy where lives are for profit, at a cost of silent deaths of the dogs who are meaningless by the standards of Wag’s technological business model,” the trio, represented by Manhattan-based attorney Susan Chana Lask, allege in the suit before Judge Joan Azrack.

Wag’s app-based business model has been likened to the ride-share app Uber or the food delivery service Grub Hub in which there is a low bar to entry for employees. Since Wag was founded in 2015, it has grown to serve more than 100 cities in 43 states.

Its dog walkers have reportedly been involved in the deaths of 11 dogs, according to The New York Post, which reported last month that Wag spokeswoman and actress Olivia Munn was dispatched to console a grieving family. 

Meli said she hired an attorney after she immediately became suspicious of the company’s claims when she first tried to use the app to get someone to walk her three dogs. 

“Meli did some research on the web and discovered the beginning of a horrendous history of Wag dog killings, thefts and beatings and Wag dog walkers committing other crimes in consumer homes,” according to the complaint.

Another plaintiff, Stacey Champagne, alleged in the suit that she told her Wag dog walker not to take her Golden Retriever puppy, Ellie, to a dog park because the pup was in heat, not spayed, and could easily get pregnant. But the dog walker allegedly ignored those instructions.

“Ellie… got to play around with a bunch of other dogs on our walk,” the dog walker is quoted as saying in the court documents. “I brought her down to Court Square and at one point she was surrounded by five male dogs who wouldn’t stop sniffing her.”

Now the owner is afraid that her puppy might be pregnant.

The third plaintiff, Tracey Hassel, alleged that her senior 9-year-old Cockapoo, Samson, hasn’t been the same since a Wag dog walker ignored instructions not to take the pup for a long walk during a heat wave, according to the suit.

“Accidents and incidents are rare, but we know the impact even one can have on the family involved,” the company told Courthouse News.

Long Island Beach Ranks Least Safe For Swimming in NY

The beach house in the distance on in Tanner Park in Copiague, Long Island, NY.

A small bayfront park in southwestern Suffolk County has ranked as having the least safe water quality for swimming in New York State, according to a national report released on Tuesday.

The Chicago-based nonprofit Environment America Research & Policy Center reported that Tanner Park in Copiague “tested as potentially unsafe for 48 days, more days than any other site in the state, and 68 percent of the days that sampling took place” at 276 of 422 sampled beach sites deemed potentially unsafe for at least one day in 2018. It also found that eight Suffolk County beaches were in the top 10 to have the most potentially unsafe swimming days last year.

“Swimming at the beach is a prime summertime joy for millions of Americans, but clearly we have more work to do to make sure water at all our beaches is safe,” said John Rumpler, the group’s clean water program director. “We must invest in water infrastructure that prevents pollution to ensure that America’s waterways are safe for swimming.”

The report released looked at fecal bacteria levels at beaches in 29 coastal and Great Lakes states as well as Puerto Rico. It found that nearly 60 percent of 4,523 beaches tested nationwide had water pollution levels that put swimmers at risk of getting sick on at least one occasion last year.

The report used standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Samples tested positive for fecal bacteria, which can make people ill, particularly with gastrointestinal ailments. Swimming in polluted water causes an estimated 57 million cases of illness annually, according to a 2018 study from the journal Environmental Health. Common sources of this pollution include stormwater runoff and sewage overflows. That’s why the Nassau and Suffolk county health departments often issue beach closures after strong rain storms. 

The report includes several recommendations to prevent bacterial pollution and keep our beaches safe for swimming. Rain barrels, rooftop gardens, permeable pavement, and urban green space can all absorb stormwater runoff and prevent sewage overflows. 

Besides Tanner Park, the other seven beaches in Suffolk that ranked as last safe in the state were Shirley Beach in Shirley, Venetian Shores in Lindenhurst, Valley Grove Beach in Northport, Sayville Marina Park, Benjamin’s Beach in Bay Shore, Corey Creek Beach in Blue Point, and East Islip Beach. One beach in neighboring Nassau County, Biltmore Beach in Massapequa, also made the top 10.

Top 10 Beach Sites by Most Potentially Unsafe Swimming Days in New York in 2018. (Source: Environment America Research & Policy Center)

Long Island Heat Wave Causes Power Outages

Jones Beach State Park
Long Islanders cool off at Jones Beach State Park (Shutterstock)

A heat wave that blanketed Long Island with sweltering conditions over the weekend cause tens of thousands of homes and businesses to lose power, officials said.

PSEG Long Island reported that more than 27,000 of its 1.1 customers lost power in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Saturday and Sunday. Most were restored by Sunday night, with only a few hundred outages remaining Monday morning.

“Crews have been working 16-hour shifts in grueling conditions to ensure any customers affected by an outage have power restored safely and as quickly as possible,” the utility said in a statement, blaming the outages “local, isolated equipment failures.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) lifted the excessive heat warning Sunday night. High humidity made temperatures in the 90s — with a high of 99 recorded in Islip on Sunday — feel like up to 112 in parts of the Island, according to Upton-based NWS meteorologist Tim Morrin.

“The real story this weekend in this heat wave was the heat index,” Morrin said. “It wasn’t even necessarily record breaking in the realm of temperature…but it was certainly impactful when it comes to the dew points that help generate those heat indexes.”

Now that the heat wave has passed, parts of the Island are under a flash flood watch as potentially severe thunderstorms are forecast to hit the region.


Shark Sighting Reported In Shallow Water Off Long Island

Police officers responded to a report of a shark sighting in shallow waters in the Hamptons on Saturday morning, authorities said.

Quogue village police said the report came in near Penniman Creek, which feeds Shinnecock Bay and Quogue Canal, at 9:07 a.m.

“The shark is an unknown species at this time and is reported to be approximately 10 to 12 feet in length,” police said in a statement.

Quogue police and Southampton Town Bay Constables are attempting to monitor the shark with a drone. They urge swimmers and boaters to be aware of the situation and maintain a safe distance.

The sighting comes after Long Island had its first shark bite in 70 years last summer, a non-fatal incident on Fire Island. While the bite was rare, shark sightings around LI are not uncommon, although sharks are not usually spotted near creeks.

A Great White named Cabot was spotted in the Long Island Sound in May. Another shark named Mary Lee that, like Cabot, is being tracked by GPS, pinged several times off the Atlantic coast. And the nonprofit group Ocearch tracking those sharks led an expedition that revealed a shark nursery in deeper ocean waters off LI.

Several harmless basking sharks forced a brief swimming ban in Westhampton Beach in 2011, another shark was spotted off Atlantic Beach in 2013, and two sharks spotted off Tobay sparked a scare in 2015

Dead sharks also occasionally wash up on LI shores, such as a dying basking shark washed up in 2009.

Related Story: Does Long Island Need a Shark Alert System?

Heat Wave Forecast For Long Island

A pair of sunbathers cool off near the water in Long Beach (Photo by Joe Abate)

Summer’s first heat wave — defined as three consecutive days of temperatures above 90 degrees — is forecast to bring sweltering conditions to Long Island this weekend.

The National Weather Service (NWS) predicted temperatures will hit about 90 on Friday, 95 on Saturday, and 97 on Sunday. NWS issued an excessive heat warning for Nassau and Suffolk counties from 6 a.m. Saturday through 8 p.m. Saturday and a heat advisory from noon Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday. Heat index values will make it feel as hot as 106 during the peak of the heat wave, forecasters say.

“Extreme heat can cause illness and death among at-risk population who cannot stay cool,” Upton-based NWS meteorologists said in the heat warning. “The excessive heat may
quickly cause heat stress or heat stroke

NWS also issued an air quality alert for LI and the tri-state area through 11 p.m. Friday, due to elevated air pollution levels that can cause health concerns.

Temps are expected to cool off again Monday into the 80s when storms are forecast to possibly hit the area.

Suffolk Police Nepotism Allegation Draws Scrutiny

Suffolk Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and Suffolk Police Commssioner Geraldine Hart are butting heads over a recent transfer.

A Suffolk County police sergeant’s promotion that allegedly violated nepotism laws has sparked renewed questions about the department’s ethics just as a new police commissioner works to repair the agency’s scandal-scarred reputation.

Sgt. Salvatore Gigante, the nephew of Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante, was transferred January 2 to the district attorney’s detective squad, where he applied to be promoted to detective sergeant. But because the county legislature has yet to approve a nepotism resolution in light of his high-ranking uncle as required by law, the move sparked a federal investigation, whistleblower probe, a union grievance, proposed legislative reforms — and some testy exchanges among county officials.

“These guys are running around like cowboys and this is something I can’t stand for,” says Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville), who’s sounding the alarm on the issue. During a hearing last month, Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart told the legislature: “When someone in a position of public power makes unsubstantiated claims about the police department, our community’s confidence in this department is damaged and public safety suffers.”

Like neighboring Nassau County police, Suffolk police is among 13 departments in the nation under a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. The agreements with Long Island’s two largest police forces mandate ongoing federal reviews of their hiring practices — specifically, ensuring that local police hire enough minorities. 

Gigante’s transfer triggered a DOJ probe because he is white and other candidates passed up for the DA squad job are black and Hispanic. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s aides withdrew the nepotism resolution from consideration in March, but resubmitted the measure last month. The status of the DOJ inquiry was not immediately clear.

“I went for an interview and was told that, ‘You know the way it is, Jeff. You know, politics. You’re not getting the job,'” Det. Sgt. Jeffrey Walker — who is black, has 25 years on the job, and has been a detective sergeant for eight years — told the legislature’s government operations committee on June 12.

Before the meeting, Walker went to Gregory with his allegation, triggering the whistleblower probe that the presiding officer delegated to the legislature’s counsel, who hired an independent investigator, Joel Weiss, to handle the inquiry. David Kelley, Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini’s former campaign manager who had been Sini’s colleague in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was hired as outside counsel to handle the matter for the administration. 

In a letter obtained by the Press, Kelley wrote Weiss urging him to “refrain from any further investigation of this matter” to avoid “any possible impediments or obstruction to” the DOJ’s probe. But in an email obtained by the Press, Carolyn Weiss of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division wrote Joel Weiss in May to say, “We do not see your investigation as an impediment to our review.” The two Weisses are unrelated. 

And the Superior Officers Association filed a grievance because Gigante is supervising detectives while only a sergeant, not a detective sergeant, as the title requires. During the legislative meeting, Hart said that police personnel transfers can’t wait for local lawmakers.

“We cannot leave vacancies for important positions within units unfulfilled while we wait for a resolution to make its way through the legislative calendar,” she said, arguing that since Gigante hasn’t yet been promoted to detective, the nepotism law wasn’t violated. “He was not the most senior sergeant, but he was undoubtedly the best fit for the job.”

The dust-up comes after Sini recently had a judge vacate a 1976 murder conviction of a man who authorities determined was wrongfully convicted and launched a Conviction Integrity Bureau. It also comes as his predecessor, Thomas Spota, is fighting federal corruption charges and Spota’s former protege, ex-chief of department James Burke, was recently released from prison after pleading guilty to beating a handcuffed inmate and covering it up.

In response to the transfer situation, Gregory proposed legislation to reassign Gigante, clarify the county nepotism law, and strengthening the law to penalize anyone who intimidates whistleblowers, as Gregory says happened to Walker. The proposals are expected to come up for a possible vote at the legislature’s July meeting.

“An individual that triggers a nepotism waiver has to recuse themselves from lobbying on the issue,” Gregory says.

Nathan’s Famous: A Relished Frank

Nathan's Famous are among America's most popular franfurters, especially in July, which is National Hot Dog Month. (Photo by Joey Manley)

Poverty-stricken Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker was hungry to take his bite of the American dream, so he cooked up a plan sell to frankfurters in Coney Island for five cents in 1916.

At the time, that was the same price as subway fare and half the cost of franks sold by his former employer, Feltman’s of Coney Island. What may be the first fast-food restaurant price war ensued. But since current-day, Jericho-based Nathan’s Famous, Inc. has grown to a $101 million company, it’s safe to say that Handwerker’s business sense and marketing flair — epitomized by the company’s annual Fourth of July hot dog eating contest that airs on ESPN — made him top dog.

“Give ‘em and let them eat,” was Handwerker’s policy, according to The New York Times, which translated his saying to: Serve the best quality food at the best price, and customers will come running.

The company, which now includes franchise locations around the nation and a presence in 16 countries, is on a roll. It sold more than 600 million hot dogs last year.

But before the crowd pleaser became the official hot dog of Major League Baseball in 2017, it was started with $300 in savings and Handwercker’s wife’s secret spice recipe. Nathan’s second location opened on Long Beach Road in Oceanside in 1959, cementing Long Island into the empire’s legacy.

In 1968, the company went public but was still family run until 1987, when it was acquired by Equicor Group Ltd., a Rockville Centre-based private investment group, for $20 million. Its initial corporate headquarters was in Westbury, before moving to One Jericho Plaza a decade ago. 

None of it would have been possible without the late namesake founder’s appetite that rivaled defending hot-dog eating contest champion Joey Chestnut’s record of scarfing 74 franks in 10 minutes.

“I always knew I was going to be in the restaurant business,” Handwerker was quoted as saying in Investor’s Business Daily. “There’s always food there. I grew up so poor, and this was a way of guaranteeing I’d never be hungry.”