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.

New $15M Ice Rink Coming to Eisenhower Park

Nassau County officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new youth hockey arena in Eisenhower Park on Thursday.
Nassau County officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new youth hockey arena in Eisenhower Park on Thursday.

Nassau County officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for a new privately funded $15 million state-of-the-art “Twin Rinks Ice Center” sports and recreation center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

The new 85,000-square-foot facility will house two NHL regulation-sized rinks and one outdoor recreational hockey rink. The arena is set to host two Long Island youth hockey organizations: the Long Island Gills Amateur Hockey Association and the New York Junior Bobcats.

“This new state of the art sports and recreation center is an exciting component of the Hub that will create jobs, complement Nassau’s sports-entertainment tourism plan and provide youth athletes access to world class skating facilities,” said County Executive Ed Mangano.

The facility is expected to generate an estimated $35 million into the local economy over the first five years and is expected to create nearly 20 new jobs.

Its construction is funded by Twin Rinks at Eisenhower Park, a collaboration between twin former NHL players turned youth hockey coaches Chris and Peter Ferraro of Ferraro Brothers Hockey, Joel Friedman of Clearview Capital Management, LLC and Ronald Friedman of SilvermanAcampora, LLP.

“This is a great day for Nassau County and a great day for the sport of hockey,” said Richard “Big Daddy” Salgado, president of Coastal Advisors LLC who served as a consultant on the project. “I grew up here and know there has never been anything like Twin Rinks. More jobs, a world class facility and hockey programs will provide quality coaching for kids and adults and start turning more Long Island youth into NHL stars.”

He noted that it is important to keep LI-based talent on the Island. The Ferraros had to go all over the place to get exposure and play hockey, he added.

“It is our passion to support Long Island families so that they will no longer have to be torn apart or have their family life disrupted just because a child excels in hockey and wants to try to make it to the NHL,” said Chris Ferraro. “This facility will enable us to create a hockey hot bed right here on Long Island.”

Peter Ferraro said he and his brother want to help the community grow and expand the sport’s recreation area at what he calls the Mecca of Long Island.

“Having real NHL guys as a part of this is going to be huge for the community,” said Christina Collins, mother of a young right wing Dix Hills Rebels player. Her son plans to try out for the team once the rink is complete.

“There is a limited number of rinks out here,” said Collins. “I think to grow the sport we need more ice time and more affordable ice time and a place for kids to play around an build the sport.”

Coram Woman ID’d as Parkway Pedestrian Victim

New York State Police have identified the pedestrian who was fatally struck by three vehicles on the Northern State Parkway in Dix Hills this week.

Police said 50-year-old Sheila Robinson of Coram was hit near Deer Park Road, exit 42, shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Police are still investigating to determine why Robinson was walking on the parkway.

None of the drivers involved were charged.

Nassau Announces Seized Vehicle Auctions

Nearly two dozen vehicles seized during criminal investigations are slated to hit the auction block by the end of this month.

Twenty three vehicles forfeited by crooks to Nassau County authorities will be bid on over two dates. Nineteen will be auctioned off at noon Jan. 23 and the other four will be auctioned at noon Jan. 30 through Internet auctions at Copart.com.

“There is a certain poetic justice in using the money raised from these auctions to fund anti-crime programs designed to keep our communities safe,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.

Auction proceeds from go to both New York State and the county to be used to pay restitution to victims, and fund anti-drug efforts and crime-reduction programs in local communities.

The vehicles include a BMW and several SUVs, some of which were involved in collisions. The prior owners had been convicted of driving while intoxicated, drug possession, vehicular assault and other charges.

Vehicles can be inspected Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1983 Montauk Hwy in Brookhaven. For a full list of the vehicles, click here.

Long Island School Gun Scares in Hewlett, Baldwin

Nassau County police responded to two separate gun-related reports in Hewlett and Baldwin on Friday morning, neither of which appears serious.

Hewlett High School officials called 911 to report that a student had threatened to bring a gun to campus the incident shortly before 11 a.m. but the student was not found to have a gun after an investigation, authorities said.

And the Baldwin High School principal reported to police that a message was found in the girl’s bathroom warning of a shooting at the school shortly after noon, officials said.

Students were not evacuated in Baldwin of the adjacent Brookside Elementary School. The Hewlett school was briefly on lockdown, but that has since been lifted.

No arrests have been made in either case.

-With Rashed Mian

Principal Testifies in NCPD Conspiracy Case

William Flanagan surrendered to Nassau County prosecutors in March.
William Flanagan surrendered to Nassau County prosecutors in March.

The principal of John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore took the stand to testify Thursday in the trial of the ex-Nassau County police commander accused of covering up a campus burglary for his friend.

Lorraine Poppe was one of five witnesses the jury heard from in the second day of arguments—but her testimony is pivotal for prosecutors trying to prove William Flanagan accepted bribes for helping nix the 2009 theft probe as a favor.

“We wanted to have Zachary arrested,” Poppe testified, referring to former student Zachary Parker, who pleaded guilty this year—after the alleged cover-up was exposed—to stealing more than $11,000 worth of electronics from the school.

The Merrick man is the son of Gary Parker, who Flanagan is accused of accepting Morton’s Steak House gift cards and other gifts from after the former second-deputy police commissioner allegedly saw to it the younger Parker dodged justice.

Judge Mark Cohen recessed the case before prosecutors could conclude direct examination, but Poppe is expected to be back in court Friday. Flanagan’s defense attorney, Bruce Barkett, is expected to question Poppe on an email she sent to her boss suggesting that the district hold off on pressing charges at one point.

But, before Poppe entered the courtroom, Barkett won a motion to bar the prosecution from questioning her about a harassment charge the principal filed against a private investigator the defense attorney hired in the case.

“I don’t want any of this to come up at trial,” Barkett told the court, saying that prosecutors are “trying to make me look bad.”

Poppe had filed the complaint after Barkett’s private investigator tracked her last month to an address where she’s being staying since being displaced by Superstorm Sandy, knocked on her door in the middle of the night and startled her awake before leaving a note for her to call Barkett, according to Assistant District Attorney Bernadette Ford.

“If they asked me ahead of time should they do this, I would have said ‘no,’” Barkett said, calling the move “inappropriate.”

Judge Cohen agreed to exclude the testimony on the grounds that there was “insufficient proof of sufficient probative value.”

Lothar Keller, a 24-year-old friend of Zach Parker’s, also testified Thursday that he turned over to police the stolen laptops and a projector that Parker had given him after Parker’s father called Keller and “said that I would be going down for the stolen stuff.”

Flanagan pleaded not guilty to misconduct, conspiracy and other charges in March 2012 along with former Chief of Patrol John Hunter and retired Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe, whose cases were severed from the current one. Opening statements were Tuesday.

Glen Head Man Nabbed in Mob-Trash Ring Bust

A reputed Gambino crime family soldier from Glen Head is among 32 suspects federal authorities rounded up Wednesday in a massive crackdown on mob-run trash-hauling companies in New York and New Jersey.

Anthony Bazzini is facing up to 40 years in prison on federal racketeering and extortion conspiracy charges. The 53-year-old suspect was scheduled to be arraigned with most of his co-defendants at Manhattan federal court.

“Organized crime has many victims—in this case small business owners who pay for waste removal, potential competitors and the communities infected by this corruption and its cost,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Prosecutors and FBI investigators alleged Bazzini was among alleged mob soldiers who took control of an unnamed waste removal company that a cooperating witness had incorporated.

Bazzini was involved in loansharking, mail and wire fraud and stolen property offenses in order to enhance the mob’s power, line their pockets and keep its victims in check by threatening economic and physical harm, authorities said.

The suspect, who was among a dozen of the 32 defendants facing the top charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, is accused of dictating which trash pick-up stops that companies could use and extorting payments in exchange for “protection.”

By enforcing purported “property rights” over the routes, the suspects excluded competitors, in effect imposing a criminal tax on businesses and communities, authorities said. They also allegedly stole property of competitors and defrauded customers.

Aside from the Gambino family, suspects include members and associates of the Genovese and Luchese—three of the five organized crime families of La Cosa Nostra that coordinated through the use of “sit-downs,” authorities alleged.

Dix Hills Pedestrian Fatally Struck on Northern State Parkway

An unidentified woman was fatally struck by several vehicles while walking on the Northern State Parkway in Dix Hills on Wednesday morning.

New York State police said the pedestrian was hit on the westbound side of the roadway while in the lanes of traffic near Deer Park Road, exit 42, shortly after 6 a.m.

The incident occurred near where 16-year-old Taylor Ann Cavalere was fatally struck by a car after walking onto the parkway shortly after she left an under-aged drinking party in April 2011.

The westbound lanes of the parkway were closed during the morning rush hour commute while investigators were on the scene.

Anyone with information regarding this incident please contact Investigator Richard Esposito at 631-231-6389.

NCPD Conspiracy Trial Resumes Thursday

William Flanagan surrendered to Nassau County prosecutors in March.
William Flanagan surrendered to Nassau County prosecutors in March.

William Flanagan, the ex-Nassau County police commander accused of covering up a burglary for a friend, was described as both a criminal and victim of a “bizarre prosecution” on the first day of his trial Tuesday.

Prosecutors and Flanagan’s defense dispute whether he received bribes for the alleged cover-up, the nature of his relationship with wealthy police donor Gary Parker and whether or not Lorraine Poppe, the principal of John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, backed off her request to press charges against Parker’s son, Zachary, the Merrick man who later admitted stealing electronics from the campus.

“It’s not a case of police discretion, it’s a case of police indiscretion,” said Assistant District Attorney Cristiana McSloy in her opening statement. “He went as far as to orchestrate the return of evidence in an open felony investigation.”

But the ex-second deputy police commissioner’s lawyer, Bruce Barkett, countered that “the allegation here is at its core a bald-faced lie.” He said the gifts were a wedding anniversary present while casting doubt on Flanagan’s role and the significance of returning the stolen property, saying “this is not what it’s cooked up to be.”

Flanagan had pleaded not guilty in March to charges of conspiracy and official misconduct along with former Chief of Patrol John Hunter and retired Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe, who are scheduled to be tried separately. Flanagan is alleged to have gotten the case squashed at Parker’s request after attempts by Hunter and Sharpe allegedly failed.

The Nassau courtroom was crowded with current and former members of the police department who came to show support for their former boss as well as officials from the district attorney’s office. But the crowd thinned out when it was time for witnesses to take the stand—and for Barkett to correct his opening statement in which he mistakenly concluded by telling the jury to find his client guilty.

The first witness was Seventh Precinct Officer Samantha Sullivan, who took the theft report from Poppe after the May 2009 theft of a projector—the last in a string of laptops, calculators and other electronics worth nearly $11,000 that Parker stole.

Poppe named Parker as a suspect and wrote in her statement that she wanted him arrested, but Sullivan testified that she crossed out Parker’s name with Poppe’s permission to keep the document “objective” for the investigating detectives.

William Brennen, the East Islip High School principal who was Poppe’s assistant at the time, was the second and final witness of the opening day. He told the court that he and Poppe suspended Parker for five days—the maximum allowed before the district superintendent gets involved.

Parker was seen on surveillance video afterhours the night of the projector theft, despite being banned from being on campus after class, Brennen testified. He said he never had a chance to show investigators the video showing Parker “carrying a satchel containing something of a relative size to a projector” before he got his new job that summer.

Barkett refused to say outside the courtroom whether Flanagan will take the stand. Testimony in the high-profile case resumes Thursday.

Seaford Middle School Evacuated for Bomb Scare

Seaford Middle School was evacuated for a bomb threat on Wednesday morning, Nassau County police said.

A police spokeswoman said school officials called 911 at 9:35 a.m. reporting the discovery of “some sort of written threat,” although it wasn’t immediately clear if it was a note or a message written on a wall.

Arson/Bomb Squad detectives are on the scene searching the campus.

The incident comes a day after Elmont High School was put on lockdown when a student brought a toy gun to school.

Island Park Shooting Suspect Nabbed

Nassau County police have arrested a man suspected of shooting and wounding a man in Island Park over the weekend.

Angel Martinez was charged with assault, criminal use of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon.

Police said the 47-year-old suspect shot the 36-year-old victim in the abdomen after asking to speak to him outside Costa Del Sol Restaurant and Bar on Austin Boulevard near the alleged gunman’s home at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The suspect fled and the victim walked home to Long Beach, where his friend called 911, authorities have said. The victim was taken to a local hospital where he is listed in stable condition with a non-life threatening injury.

Police apprehended Martinez in Wyandanch on Tuesday. He also had an open warrant for disorderly conduct in Hempstead, police said.  He will be arraigned Wednesday at First District Court in Hempstead.