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.

LIRR Brief Service Suspension Sparks Delays

Long Island Rail Road commuters endured train cancellations and delays sparked by a third-rail power problem in the East River tunnels at the height of the Wednesday morning rush hour commute.

The LIRR briefly suspended service between its Jamaica hub and Penn Station at about 8 a.m., which was enough to spark nine train cancelations between the Long Beach, Babylon, Port Washington and Huntington branches.

Some of those trains were immediately replaced with alternate trains. A West Hempstead train was diverted to Hunterspoint Avenue when the issue initially arose.

The LIRR reports service was restored mostly back to normal later the same morning.

Riverhead Home Invasion Shooting Probed

Two masked gunmen shot up a house with five people inside in Riverhead where the duo had committed a home invasion on Tuesday night, authorities said.

Two adults and three children—including two boys ages 15 and 12 and a 5-year-old girl—were in the East Avenue home when the gunmen broke in at 11:29 p.m., Riverhead Town Police said.

The victims called 911 after the suspects fled and started shooting at the house. None of the residents were hit by the gunfire.

The case marks the 12th armed home invasion in Suffolk in a six-week span starting Jan. 15. Two other cases involved shootings, including a Flanders home invasion that left a man dead and a Central Islip home invasion that left a shooting victim wounded.

Investigators found shell casings outside the house. Detectives are continuing the investigation.

North Bay Shore Man Admits Killing Ex, Tot

A man has admitted killing his ex-girlfriend and her 2-year-old son in the North Bay Shore apartment they shared a week before Christmas two years ago.

Jerry Lewis pleaded guilty Tuesday at Suffolk County court to one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder.

Prosecutors have said the 25-year-old man fatally stabbed Shakeela Planter, 21, a dietician at Huntington Hospital, at her South Cardinal Court home on Dec. 18, 2011.

He also beat her son Jaiden to death and stuffed him in the freezer, police said at the time.

Lewis, a Jamaican immigrant, had fled to Maryland after the murders but was later extradited back to Long Island.

Judge Richard Ambro will reportedly sentence Lewis to 30 years to life in prison on April 3.

Commack Man Arrested for Hit-and-run DWI Crash With Bus

A Commack man was arrested for drunken driving after he fled the scene of a crash with a school bus that had 23 children aboard in Smithtown on Tuesday morning, Suffolk County police said.

Robert Slavonik was leaving the Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 25A in a Dodge pickup truck when he crashed his vehicle into a westbound bus and drove off at 9:45 a.m., police said.

A witness took down the pickup truck’s plate number and reported it to police, who responded to the 44-year-old suspect’s home, where they found him in the driver’s seat of the truck in the driveway, police said.

Slavonik was charged with leaving the scene of an incident without reporting and driving while intoxicated. He will be arraigned Wednesday at First District Court in Central Islip.

The were no injuries reported on the bus, which was from the Three Village School District.

Elmont Teen Accused of Impersonating Police

Andrew Schreier
Andrew Schreier

A teenager has been accused of flashing a badge and what appeared to be a handgun at another driver while impersonating a police officer during a road-rage confrontation in Elmont on Monday afternoon.

Nassau County police said Andrew Schreier was driving on Elmont Road when he pulled alongside a vehicle driven by a 29-year-old man, rolled his window down and flashed a gold badge at 3 p.m.

“I’m a cop, and I’ll give you tickets,” the 19-year-old Elmont man allegedly yelled at the victim before pointing the weapon at the other driver and the victim’s 47-year-old passenger, according to police.

The victims called 911, followed Schreier into a dead end and led responding officers to him with the help of a neighbor, police said.

Schreier was found to have glass bottle in his shoe that contained a substance believed to be MDMA, the active intoxicant in the club drug ecstasy.

The gun that he allegedly menaced the victims with turned out to be a black airsoft pistol, which investigators also recovered, police said. The badge he flashed was from the U.S. Postal Police, Nassau police said.

The teen was also in possession of a forged New Jersey license, a forged Department of Homeland Security photo identification and two Federation of Postal Police photo IDs, police said.

Schreier was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, forgery, criminal impersonation, menacing and possession of a dangerous weapon. He will be arraigned Tuesday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Terryville Drug Store Robbers Sought by Police

Have you seen these armed robbers?
Have you seen these armed robbers?

Two masked, armed robbers assaulted a drug store clerk during a robbery in Terryville three weeks ago, Suffolk County police said Tuesday.

The duo walked into the CVS on Route 347, forced two employees to the ground and then demanded one of the victims at knifepoint to give cash from the drawer at 4:20 a.m. Tuesday, Feb.5, police said.

One of the robbers then assaulted one of the victims before they fled with cash toward Old Town Road, police said. Police released a surveillance camera image of the suspects in the hope that a member of the public can identify them.

The suspects were described as black men wearing white masks. The first was wearing a red and black jacket, black gloves, blue jeans and was armed with a handgun. The second suspect was wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt with white designs on the front, white shirt, red gloves and was armed with a knife.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-TIPS.  All calls will be kept confidential. Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

Freeport Robbers Shoot at Victim, Miss

A pair of masked gunmen shot at their robbery victim as he ran away, missing him, early Tuesday morning, Nassau County police said.

The 28-year-old victim was getting out of his vehicle on Rutland Road when two men wearing ski masks armed with handguns began searching the victims’ pockets at 12:52 a.m., police said.

The victim dropped his car keys and cell phone and then ran away while the robbers were busy picking up the items, police said.

The assailants shot at the victim several times as he ran away but missed.  Investigators found six shell casing at the scene. The suspects were last seen running toward Grand Avenue.

First Squad detectives request anyone with information regarding this crime to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.  All callers will remain anonymous.

Nassau Debates New District Maps, Court Fight Looms

Among the changes in the newly redrawn Nassau County legislative district maps is that the Five Towns area was split up between four districts.

The Republican-controlled Nassau County legislature is close to approving redrawn district lines that will force four Democratic incumbents into two districts when they seek re-election this fall despite legal challenges and accusations of gerrymandering.

The new political map will also put two Republicans into the same district as a part of the once-a-decade redistricting process required to ensure legislators represent an equal amount of residents based on 2010 census data. County Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican, is expected to sign the new map into law, if it passes as widely anticipated at the legislature’s next meeting on March 4.

“This is not an easy task,” Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said before adjourning the meeting shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday. She pleaded at times for the audience not disrupt the meeting in the packed legislative chamber of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola, reminding the crowd that redistricting is legally required “in order to guarantee the constitutional protection of one person, one vote.”

Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) had his 10-block-wide sliver of his neighborhood lump his house into the neighboring district, pitting him against Legis. Joseph Scannell (D-Baldwin). Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) saw her district merged with that of Legis. Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn). And the district held by newly elected Michael Venditto (R-North Massapequa) absorbed the part of a neighboring district that’s home to Legis. Joseph Belesi (R-Farmingdale), who Newsday reports may be retiring.

Democrats drew the current map when they had the majority in the legislature a decade ago but their proposal to keep the same districts intact was rejected. In 2011, the New York State Court of Appeals threw out an earlier version of the redrawn lines that the Nassau GOP legislative majority rushed through before that year’s elections with little public input.

“Packing and cracking have long been used to gerrymander districts,” said Nancy Rosenthal, co-president of the League of Womens Voters of Nassau County, referring to the practice of redrawing political maps to pack districts with voters registered to the majority party and crack apart areas where members of the opposition party live. “It is demoralizing to see it happening to this extent in Nassau.”

Analysts predict the redrawn map could help Republicans add two seats to their majority, or potentially three seats that could give the GOP a supermajority, according to Brian Paul, research and policy coordinator at Common Cause New York, a nonprofit organization that proposed an alternate map with a coalition of other nonpartisan advocacy groups.

That’s despite the fact that Democrats have a nearly 36,000-enrollment advantage over Republicans—368,049 Dems vs. 332,197 GOP out of 960,331 registered voters in Nassau, according to the latest New York State Board of Elections data. There’s also 212,932 unaffiliated voters, 33,408 Independence Party registrants, 10,249 registered Conservatives, 2,132 Working Family Party members, 1,159 members of the Green Party and 175 listed as “other,” the data shows.

“The only real benefit of moving 360,000-plus people is to shift things around so there is …  incumbent safety or partisan politics advantage,” said Frederick Brewington, a Hempstead-based civil rights attorney who plans to sue the county over the map, if it’s approved. “At some point the question will be asked of you—explain yourself. And in this situation, the concept of this just being a policy decision is not going to cut it.”

Critics also decried the legislative majority for planning to pass a map certain to rack up legal fees the financially strapped county can’t afford over alleged violations of the Voting Rights Act.

Brewington joined others who personally appealed to the legislators, especially Legis. Denise Ford of Long Beach, a registered Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans.

In addition to members of various civic organizations, the dozens of speakers who voiced opposition to the new map before the vote included elected officials from the villages of East Hills and Freeport as well as the Uniondale and Great Neck school districts.

Francis Moroney, chairman of Nassau Temporary Districting Commission, said the panel hired Albany-based Skyline Demographic Consultants to draw the first draft of the map before it was tweaked to address concerns the public raised at a series of hearings.

“Every decision you make flows through and affects someplace else,” said Moroney, likening the process of trying to keep communities with similar interests together to an overflowing bowl of Jell-O. “It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And it’s certainly not a perfect process.”

Adam Haber, a Roslyn school board member challenging former County Executive Tom Suozzi for the Democratic Party line to run against Mangano in November, doubted the fairness of the redistricting process.

“It’s obvious that the will of the people is against this process and the map,” said Haber, an East Hills resident. “What’s the point of … this hearing if the elected officials don’t listen?”

Denenberg made one last stand before the meeting was adjourned for the fight to continue next month, when another lengthy debate is sure to ensure.

“The only reason for that line is to come after me,” he told Morony, pointing to the sliver of the proposed District 14 that juts into southern Merrick, separating his neighborhood from the rest of the hamlet in proposed District 13. “That line that you drew in Merrick … strangely is two houses from my house.”

Dad, Son Charged With South Farmingdale Burglary

Two Nassau County police officers were injured while arresting a father and son who authorities said they caught burglarizing copper pipes from a vacant house in South Farmingdale over the weekend.

The officers responded to an abandoned house on Carmen Gate when they were confronted by 51-year-old Steven Merrill and his 21-year-old son, James, both of East Farmingdale, at 10:35 a.m. Saturday, police said.

James Merrill allegedly pushed an officer before he ran away and scuffled with the officers who chased him down, police said.

Both officers were taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries suffered while taking the two suspects into custody. One officer suffered a fractured hand and the other suffered a sprained ankle and hand. Each suffered back injuries.

Police said the suspects were found with a bag containing bolt cutters, flashlights, wrenches, screwdrivers, pipe cutters and other tools.

Father and son were each charged with burglary and possession of burglars tools. James Merrill was also charged with assault.

Bail for Steven was set at $20,000 bond or $10,000 cash. James’ bail was set at $10,000 bond or $5,000 cash. They’re both due back in court Wednesday.

Long Island Weather Warmer This Week

Long Island has a rainy and slightly warmer forecast for the week ahead before clearing up and cooling down by the weekend.

Monday is expected to hit a high of 44 under mostly sunny skies with the same weather on tap for Tuesday before a chance of up to an inch rain moves in afternoon and after sundown, according to the National Weather Service.

Wednesday is forecast to hit a high of 51 with the chance of up to an additional half inch of rain during the day through the night. The chance of showers persists Thursday as the temperatures hit 47.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be sunny with highs in the low 40s and dipping below freezing at night.