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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.

LIRR Fare Hike Starts Friday

Long Island Rail Road
Long Island Rail Road
A passenger boards a Long Island Rail Road train in Long Beach (Joe Abate).
A passenger boards a Long Island Rail Road train in Long Beach (Joe Abate).

Fares are slated to spike this weekend for Long Island Rail Road commuters, subway straphangers and many bus riders along with drivers who’ll pay higher tolls on most major crossings.

The MTA approved the toll and fare increases back in December to fill budget gaps in the nation’s largest transit system with the $450 million added revenue projected to be generated.

LIRR fares will jump between 8 and 9 percent Friday, depending on the distance traveled and ticket type. Riders that bought weekly passes this week can still use their tickets Friday.

New York City bus and subway base fares will rise Saturday from $2.25 to $2.50, meaning monthly MetroCards will cost 8 percent more at $112.

Nassau County’s NICE bus system will keep its cash fares at $2.25, but riders who use MetroCards will pay $2.50 starting Sunday.

The Suffolk County Transit bus lines remain $2 on most routes for now, but public hearings are scheduled for next week to consider a proposal to double fares to $4.

Tolls are going up Sunday at seven bridges and two tunnels run by the MTA. Drivers who pay with cash will see tolls spike $7.50 from $6.50 versus $5.33 from $4.80 for E-ZPass users.

The affected bridges include the Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck, RFK, Verrazano-Narrows, Henry Hudson and Cross Bay and Marine Parkway bridges. Tunnels with toll hikes are the Hugh L. Carey and Queens-Midtown tunnels.

For a breakdown of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s latest toll and fare increases, click their website.

Valley Stream Man Charged With Fatal DWI Crash

A Valley Stream man has been charged with manslaughter following an alleged drunken-driving crash that left a 46-year-old man dead near his Franklin Square home Wednesday night, Nassau County police said.

Brian Daly, 24, was speeding in his Lincoln southbound on Franklin Avenue when he blew a read light and struck an eastbound Ford at the corner of Corona Avenue at 9:15 p.m., police said.

The Lincoln then hit a Subaru that stopped for the red light at the same corner. That was not injured, but the driver of the Ford, Christopher Decrescito, was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Daly was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving and driving while intoxicated.

He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of injuries to his right hip and right arm. He will be arraigned as soon as medically practical, police said.

Homicide Squad detectives impounded the vehicles for safety inspections while the investigation is continuing.

Hempstead House Explosion Rocks Neighborhood

A home exploded in Hempstead on Wednesday. (Timothy Bolger/Long Island Press)
A home exploded in Hempstead on Wednesday. (Timothy Bolger/Long Island Press)

A house explosion rocked a Hempstead neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, collapsing the structure on itself and damaging two homes next door.

Hempstead village police and firefighters from surrounding areas responded to the scene on Perry Street near the corner of Cedar Street at about 2:30 p.m.

Officials at the scene said the house appears to have been vacant at the time but are searching the rubble to be sure.

“I thought a car hit my house,” said Joseph Berrouet, 65, who was awakened when he felt his home rattle a block away. “It was a terrible noise.”

A National Grid spokeswoman told reporters that the initial investigation revealed no signs of a gas leak, although neighbors reportedly smelled gas in the days leading up to the blast.

The Nassau County Fire Marshall’s investigators are continuing the probe while construction equipment was brought in to sift through the debris.

Hempstead Murder Suspect ID’d as Rapper

Have you seen
Have you seen Agdnan “Agg” McLeod, aka “Duffle Bag Agg”?

Nassau County police have identified a suspect wanted for fatally shooting a 30-year-old man outside of the victim’s Hempstead home last summer.

Police said Agdnan “Agg” McLeod, an up-and-coming Hip Hop artist known as “Duffle Bag Agg,” guned down Rameel Blanco on Lawson Street on the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012.

Hempstead Village police officers were responding to a call for shots fired when they found the victim in the street suffering from a gunshot wound. Blanco was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

McLeod described himself in his ReverbNation profile as a “a 21 year old rapper that you would think is 35” who’s “bringing real back” and worked with notable artists such as Jim Jones.

Police released a photo Wednesday of McLeod, who they described as a 6-foot-tall black man with a mustache, goatee, thin to medium build, brown eyes and dark brown hair.

He has been seen in New York City, Nassau County and in the Atlanta, Georgia area. The suspect is known to have ties to the rap industry. Police said he should be considered armed and dangerous.

Homicide Squad detectives ask anyone with information about the case to call them at 516-573-7788 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS (8477).

Fire Island Nude Beach Outlawed

Fire Island's nude beaches are no more.
Fire Island’s nude beaches are no more (Lighthouse Beach Times).

Fire Island’s famed nude beaches have become the latest casualty of Superstorm Sandy.

Fire Island National Seashore officials announced in early February that they will start enforcing New York State laws against public nudity at Lighthouse Beach, a clothing-optional beach between Robert Moses State Park Field 5 and Kismet that drew up to 4,000 nudists on summer days.

“We have school groups and tour groups coming to that area and right next door there’s thousands of nude people,” said Lena Koschmann, chief FINS ranger, referring to the Fire Island Lighthouse, an adjacent tourist attraction. “That beach was never meant to be a heavily used beach.”

Koschmann said that the Sandy-damaged boardwalk to the Fire Island Lighthouse means visitors will have to walk down the beach through the area where the nudists gathered. She added that the decision was also based on an increase in criminal activity at the nude beach, the lack of lifeguards and restrooms and the impact the crowds are having on the environment. Violators who ignore the ban face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Save Lighthouse Beach, a naturalist group, had tried to pre-empt the decision by starting a “Beach Ambassador” program to have volunteers remind the beach’s users to clean up after themselves and not break the law. But Koschmann said that despite such efforts, the nude beach increasingly became advertised online as a meeting place for public sex and prostitution.

Lighthouse Beach was technically a pair of clothing optional beaches separated by a patch of non-nude beach in the area closest to the lighthouse to separate tourists and nudists. But even if the boardwalks were repaired in time for the summer season, the fact that the dunes had been decimated by Sandy means the beach is now visible from the lighthouse.

Larry Jensen, who runs the nude beach website Lighthouse Beach Times, posted a farewell letter online suggesting he may leave New York and blaming the National Park Service that oversees FINS for the decision.

“Many of you may have seen the thousand or so photos I have captured in an attempt to record just how amazing it was to me,” he wrote. “But alas it is but a memory now as the National Park Service has decided that me and my people are no longer welcome here.”

The beach has been a destination for nudists since as early as the 1960s but it wasn’t formally recognized by FINS until 2005, according to Koschmann. New York State outlawed public nudity in 1984, but as a federal park, FINS had opted not to enforce that law.

The new no-nudity rules comes as Robert Moses State Park remains closed four months after the Oct. 29 superstorm that ravaged Long Island’s barrier islands—especially FI. The ban will also be enforced in other nude-friendly beaches along FI, such as Cherry Grove to the east.

“I’ve had a mixed response,” Koschmann said. “The majority of them are disappointed and asking us to rethink our decision, but I’ve also had some people calling in…who are supportive.”

Peconic Teen Missing, Cops Seek Tips

Ashley Murray
Ashley Murray

Southold Town Police are asking for public’s help in finding a 16-year-old girl who went missing from her North Fork home this week.

Police said Ashley Murray was last seen at 8 a.m. Monday leaving her Spring Lane home in Peconic wearing a black shirt, gray hooded sweatshirt, red sweatpants and black boots.

She is described as white, 5-feet, 4-inches tall, 140 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. She wears hearing aids in both ears, police noted.

Friends and family created an “Ashley Come Home” Facebook page to help publicize her photo.

Police ask that anyone with information about Murray’s whereabouts to call them at 631-765-2600. All callers will remain confidential.

Long Island Weather: Storm to Erode Beaches

Long Island is bracing for possible beach erosion and power outages as a storm brings strong winds, rain and coastal flooding to the region Wednesday.

The National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory warning of up to 57 mph gusts that expired at 11 a.m., when the winds are expected to diminish through the afternoon. A coastal flood advisory remains in effect through 2 p.m.

The saturated ground combined with the winds increases the possibility of downed trees and power lines, according to NWS. The Long Island Power Authority reported more than 3,100 outages of their 1.1 million customers as of 10:30 a.m.

NWS said in its coastal flood advisory statement that up to 11-foot Atlantic waves combined with astronomically high tides that are more than two feet higher than usual are expected to erode ocean beaches.

LI’s barrier island’s had already been dealing with erosion issues before Superstorm Sandy decimated the dunes on Fire Island and similarly hammered Westhampton Beach, Jones Beach and Long Beach.

The chance of showers is forecast to continue Wednesday evening into Thursday before clearing up Friday to give way to a sunny Saturday and Sunday.

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.