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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.

Long Island Weather Rainy This Weekend

Long Island has a wet weekend on tap, but forecasters have dialed back earlier warnings of possible “significant precipitation.”

Friday night there is a chance of rain and snow, although with temperatures hitting a low of 33—just above freezing—there is not much of a threat of any white stuff sticking, according to Upton-based National Weather Service meteorologists.

The rain and snow is expected to continue Saturday morning, but little to no snow accumulation is expected. Up to a half inch of precipitation will continue after sundown as temps hit a low of 37.

A chance of rain lingers Sunday, when rain in the morning will leave mostly cloudy skies during the afternoon before another chance of precipitation at night. Sunday will see a high of 41 during the day and a low of 33 at night.

The first half of next week is also forecast to be mostly cloudy with a slight chance of precipitation and temperatures lingering in the 30s and 40s.

Dix Hills Puppy Thief Sought by Police

Have you seen this dog-napper?
Have you seen this dog-napper?

A woman stole an $1,800 purebred Pug puppy from a Dix Hills pet store last weekend and now Suffolk County police are asking for the public’s help to catching the dog-napper.

The canine crook entered Yipity Yap on East Jericho Turnpike, picked up the black pup, put it in her bag and stole it from the store at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, police said.

Second Squad detectives released an image of the woman who was caught on surveillance camera fleeing with the dog. They also released an image of a Pug puppy similar to the one that was stolen.

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

Driver Avoids Jail for Crash That Killed Nassau Cop

John Kaley, left, leaves Nassau County court to walk a gauntlet lined with police officers on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.
John Kaley, left, follows his attorney, William Petrillo, out of Nassau County court to walk a gauntlet lined with police officers on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.

The truck driver who dozed off at the wheel and caused the crash that killed Nassau County Police Officer Michael Califano two years ago walked out of court Thursday a free man after making a plea deal.

John Kaley pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor reckless driving after prosecutors dropped a felony count of criminally negligent homicide. Police officers packed the Nassau County courtroom for the emotional hearing and lined the hallway outside.

“The pain we experienced is beyond description and continues to be,” Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormick said while reading a statement written by Califano’s widow, Jackie.

“I wish I could change things but I know that’s impossible,” William Petrillo, the Rockville Centre-based attorney for the 27-year-old Connecticut man, said while reading the statement written by Kaley, who started sobbing too much to read it himself.

Prosecutors said Kaley was driving while drowsy, drifting from his lane on the Long Island Expressway when he crashed into the 44-year-old officer’s cruiser while Califano was conducting a traffic stop near exit 39 on the LIE on Feb. 4, 2011.

But, it has been virtually impossible to convict a driver of criminally negligent homicide in New York, because the statute is in flux, said Nassau prosecutors, who pointed to a Bronx jury that recently acquitted a bus driver of the same charge for killing 15 people in a crash after authorities accused him of driving without enough sleep.

“We’re bound by New York’s laws and New York’s highest court,” McCormick told the court, explaining that investigators were unable to establish evidence needed to convict Kaley under the law.

After the hearing, McCormick joined Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver at a news conference where they vowed to lobby for state legislation to strengthen the law.

“He knew he was not alert enough to drive, but he continued to do so, resulting in the death of our brother, and that’s not right,” Carver said. “We cannot continue to have laws that let people like this who are reckless and have no regard for anybody else on the road to continue to drive. They should be punished and they should be sent away for a long time.”

Judge William O’Brien ordered Kaley, who faced up to four years in prison for the felony, to pay a $500 fine and revoked his privilege to drive in New York. He then tried to console Califano’s family.

“I too suffered a loss from an early age,” Judge O’Brien told Califano’s three sons, Michael, 16, Christopher, 13, and Andrew, 8. “You too can come back from it.”

Melville Man Killed in Car Crash

An 82-year-old man died in a car crash about a mile from his Melville home on Thursday afternoon.

Suffolk County police said Sidney Stein was driving a Lexus northbound on Bagatelle Road when he lost control of his vehicle, crossed into the southbound lane and struck a tree near the corner of Hemingway Drive at 3:35 p.m.

Stein was taken to North Shore LIJ Plainview Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Second Squad detectives impounded his vehicle for a safety check while the investigation is continuing.

Roosevelt Burglars Caught in the Act, Cops Say

Nassau County police officers caught a pair of burglars in the act in their hometown of Roosevelt on Wednesday morning, authorities said.

The officers responded to a report of a burglary in progress a Hansom Place home where they found Todd Hartshorne-Raysor inside the house holding property shortly after 10 a.m., police said.

The 27-year-old suspect tried to run out of the front door but was arrested at the scene, police said. A second suspect, 39-year-old Marc Dangerfield, was apprehended shortly later.

Both men were charged with burglary and possession of burglar tools.  They will be arraigned Thursday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Hempstead Murder Suspect Nabbed in Rhode Island

A suspect wanted for gunning down a 29-year-old Hempstead man last month has been apprehended in Rhode Island, Nassau County police said.

William Flowers was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree murder.

Homicide Squad detectives alleged that the 31-year-old Rosedale man shot and killed James Warren on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead on Jan. 30.

The victim was taken to Nassau University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Flowers will be arraigned Thursday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Lindenhurst Students Warned of Distracted Driving Risks

A driver uses their cell phone while behind the wheel.
A driver uses their cell phone while behind the wheel.

Jacy Good learned while hospitalized on her 22nd birthday in 2008 that the Pennsylvania crash that nearly killed her claimed her parents’ lives—thanks to a teenage driver talking on his cell phone.

The White Plains resident who later dedicated her life to advocating against distracted driving shared those and other painful details during a panel discussion Wednesday at Lindenhurst High School.

“We need to change the way we think about this,” Good told students assembled at the school library. “When you are driving, do what it takes to not pick up your phone.”

Leading the discussion was New York State Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick), who pointed to studies that found drivers distracted by their cell phones are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision.

“Distracted drivers put everyone’s safety at risk,” said Fuschillo, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Technology enables us to communicate with one another almost whenever and wherever we want, but it endangers lives when drivers pay more attention to a text or email than to the road ahead.”

Trooper Frank Bandiero, who was also on the panel, said that distracted drivers—20,000 of whom were ticketed by state police between July 2011 and July 2012, including 1,400 on LI—are easy to spot since they drive erratically. He said that parents need to set an example for their kids by not using their phones while driving.

A recent survey found that 58 percent of high school seniors and 43 percent of high school juniors said they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous month, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“Young people, we think we’re invincible,” said Kristen Curran, a senior at Lindenhurst High School who recently obtained her driver’s license and joined the panel. “We think we have so many more years to come, but that’s not the truth.”

Long Island Weather: Significant Precipitation Likely This Weekend

A coastal storm system brewing offshore may bring “widespread significant precipitation” to Long Island this weekend, forecasters say.

The track the storm will take and how much rain or snow it might bring Saturday night into Sunday morning—when temperatures are forecast to hit a low of 34 overnight—were unclear as of Wednesday, according to Upton-based National Weather Service meteorologists.

“The precipitation is forecast to be mainly rain at the coast and mainly snow inland as well as higher elevations with the possibility for moderate to significant snowfall accumulations,” the agency said in a Hazardous Weather Outlook statement.

But, forecasters warned that the system developing off the mid-Atlantic coast could intensify as it passes LI before going out to sea. Changes in forecast amounts as well as precipitation type are expected to change as the storm approaches.

The possibility of a storm comes after snow dumped by a record-setting blizzard two weeks ago is still melting. A chance of flurries is forecast for Thursday. Friday is expected to be mostly sunny with a high near 41.

North Massapequa Woman’s Mysterious Death Probed

Irene Leutje
Irene Leutje

Nassau County police are asking for the public’s help in solving the mystery of a 60-year-old woman who had been missing for about a month before she was found dead about five miles from her North Massapequa home.

Construction workers reportedly discovered the body in the bushes outside of a vacant, Sandy-damaged waterfront home on Ocean Avenue in Massapequa on Valentine’s Day. Police identified the woman Tuesday as Irene Luetje, a Farmingdale State College secretary known to friends and family as “Renee.”

“Unfortunately at this point it’s a mystery to us why she was there, how she wound up there and ultimately how she died,” Det. Lt. John Azzata, head of the Homicide Squad, told reporters during a news conference Wednesday.

Investigators said that they found no apparent trauma to the victim and there appears to be no signs of foul play, but medical examiners have yet to complete an autopsy. It wasn’t clear how long she was dead before being found.

Newsday reports that Luetje’s family filed a missing person report for the woman after she neither showed up to grandniece’s birthday party Jan. 6 nor went to work the next day.

What happened in the five weeks between her disappearance and discovery remains a mystery. The worker who made the find told WCBS radio that he heard rushing water and was looking for the water main when he spotted the body.

Azzata said Luetje was known to take long walks, was taking medication for hypertension and doesn’t appear to have been robbed. He suggested that she could have been seeking assistance for a medical problem when she collapsed.

“The campus is terribly saddened by her death,” said Kathy Coley, a college spokeswoman. “We send our deepest condolences to Irene’s family.”

Homicide Squad detectives ask anyone with information regarding this person to contact them at 516-573-8800.

Bellone Gives Suffolk State of the County Address

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone gives his second State of the County address Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone gives his second State of the County address in Hauppauge on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone proposed streamlining government processes, warned of continued budget deficits and rallied for rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy during his second State of the County address Tuesday night.

Between reflecting on his first year in office and doling out accolades, the first-term Democrat spent a significant portion of his speech reinforcing to legislators his plan to sell the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility in Yaphank—a local political hot potato. If its sale does not go through, explained Bellone, he’d be forced to close the facility.

“The state of our county is that we are rebuilding,” Bellone, the former Babylon Town Supervisor, said before a packed legislative chamber in Hauppauge. “This is a county that has faced challenges before and always emerged stronger.”

His address comes as Long Island waits for billions in federal Sandy aid dollars to begin flowing nearly four months after the historic storm that seriously strained government resources across the tri-state area.

Bellone also reiterated support for the police department’s shift toward focusing on recidivism reduction, intelligence-led policing and improving the monitoring of sex offenders after he appointed Commissioner Ed Webber.

Legis. John Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset), leader of the GOP minority, questioned Bellone’s management skills and whether the county exec’s quest to speed up government would mean bypassing the legal processes established in the county charter.

“It appears that were tripping over ourselves to save pennies, when dollars are flying out of the window,” said Kennedy, vowing to launch an inquiry into the recent record-setting blizzard in his 10-minute Republican response to Bellone’s hour-long speech.

“Despite all of the changes that we have made to make our government smaller and more efficient, we still have a significant structural deficit,” Bellone said, meaning Suffolk still has more annual bills than recurring revenues after cutting 700 county workers. “While we’ve made great progress, we still have a long way to go.”