Tag Archive | "Southampton Town Police"

Sag Harbor Acupuncturist Arrested on Charges of Sexual Abuse Against Patient

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By Tessa Raebeck

Southampton Town Police arrested a Sag Harbor acupuncturist Saturday, July 12, on charges that he sexually abused a female patient he was treating.

Michael P. Gohring, 64, a resident of Sag Harbor since 1987, was arrested at his Noyac Road business in the village. A patient told police that the licensed acupuncturist sexually abused her during an appointment.

Mr. Gohring was charged with Aggravated Sexual Abuse in the second degree, a Class C Felony. He was held overnight at Southampton Town Police Headquarters in Hampton Bays and arraigned Sunday, July 13, at Southampton Town Justice Court, then remanded to Suffolk County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail, police said in a press release issued Wednesday, July 16.

Mr. Gohring offers acupuncture and comprehensive oriental medicine and was voted “Best of the Best” Acupuncturist in the Hamptons by Dan’s Papers’ Readers’ Poll in 2013. According to police, he uses the first name Mikal for his business.

Police ask that anyone with related information call the Southampton Town Detective Unit at (631) 702-2230.

Six-Year-Old Killed by Car in Water Mill

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By Tessa Raebeck

Six-year-old Tess Burstein of Water Mill was hit and killed by a car Sunday, June 15, while crossing Blank Lane in Water Mill.

According to the Southampton Town Police Department, at around 11:19 a.m. Tess was crossing the road when she was hit by a Toyota Prius traveling northbound. She was transported to Southampton Hospital and then to Stony Brook University Hospital where she was treated for critical injuries.

A spokesperson from Stony Brook University Hospital confirmed Monday that Tess died at 4:49 p.m. Sunday.

The driver of the Toyota, Maurice Wittenberg, 76, of Water Mill, and his female passenger were not injured in the crash. The car was impounded for a safety check. No criminal charges have been filed at this time.

Detectives are asking anyone who may have more information or who may have witnessed this crash to call 631-702-2230.

The tragedy comes a year after the death of 14-year-old Anna Mirabai Lytton last June. The Springs School student was hit by a car driven by Maria Brennan, 73, and killed while riding her bike in East Hampton.

North Sea Raid Nets Drug Arrest

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An early morning drug raid Thursday in North Sea led to an arrest after police said they seized a variety of drugs — including heroin and cocaine — and packing materials from a Locust Avenue residence.

Michael Johnson, 27, was arrested at 6:27 a.m. last Thursday, May 23 after the East End Drug Task Force (EEDTF) seized illegal drugs at the Southampton home, according to a press release issued by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota’s office.

Johnson was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree — intent to sell, a class B felony, as well as criminal possession of a controlled substance — narcotic, criminal possession of a narcotic drug in the fourth degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, all felony counts. Johnson also faces charges of criminal use of drug paraphernalia in the second degree, unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation, and for acting in a manner injurious to a child, a misdemeanor.

“Inside the home, EEDTF investigators seized heroin, cocaine, marijuana, pills, cash, as well as scales and packaging materials,” said Spota.

The search warrant, according to Spota’s office, was the result of an investigation into drug sales activity in the North Sea, Southampton area. Southampton Town Police Emergency Services Unit assisted task force member agencies in serving the warrant as did the New York State Police K-9 unit, said DA Spota.

Johnson was arraigned in Southampton Town Justice Court and was held in lieu of $5,000 bail.

The East End Drug Task Force is a multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement unit funded by the office of Suffolk County District Attorney. The task force includes detectives, police officers and law enforcement personnel from the New York State Police, Suffolk County Police Department , Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, Suffolk County Department of Probation, Southampton Town Police Department, Riverhead Police Department, East Hampton Town Police Department, Easthampton Village Police Department, Southampton Village Police Department, Sag Harbor Village Police Department, Southold Police Department and Suffolk County District Attorney Investigators.

Update: Motorcyclist In “Grave Condition” After Wednesday Night Accident

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A motorcyclist that was airlifted last week after losing control of his vehicle and rear ending a car driving in front of him on Route 114 in North Haven is still being treated at Stony Brook University Medical Center and according to Southampton Town Police is listed in “grave condition.”

Santiago V. Velay, 34, of Florida was identified as the driver of the motorcycle on Monday morning.

According to Southampton Town Police Velay collided with another driver on Route 114 at Fresh Pond Road in North Haven on Wednesday, September 5.

According to Southampton Town Police, around 7:05 p.m. they received a call from a passing motorist reporting an accident in North Haven. Police said the caller stated a motorcyclist was down in the roadway and was not moving. Southampton Town Police Officers and Sag Harbor Police Department Officers were dispatched to the scene as well as the Sag Harbor Ambulance personnel. The Sag Harbor Fire Department and Southampton Town Police Traffic Control Officers were also dispatched to the scene to assist with a road closure while the accident was being investigated.

The investigation revealed that Velay was operating a 2000 Honda motorcycle northbound on  Route 114 when he struck a 2003 Jeep Liberty that was also being operated northbound on 114. The operator and sole occupant of the Jeep was not injured. Velay was transported by Suffolk County Police Department Helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital.

The accident closed the Lance Corporal Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge for several hours. Both vehicles were impounded to the Southampton Town Police Headquarters for safety checks. The accident remains under investigation by Southampton Town Police Detectives.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact the Southampton Town Police Detective Division at 631-702-2230.

Bridgehampton Man Charged After Allegedly Lunging at Police Officer with Knife

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A 19-year-old Bridgehampton man was arrested by Southampton Town Police Friday afternoon after he allegedly lunged at a police officer with a knife after the officer ordered him to drop the weapon.

Around 3:15 p.m. Southampton Town Police responded to an emergency call of a subject with a knife chasing another man at the Watermill Commons on Montauk Highway in Water Mill. A single police officer arrived while additional units were en route from Bridgehampton when police said the lone officer came upon Jesse Amberstone, 19, of Bridgehampton. He was allegedly holding a knife.

According to Southampton Town Police, the officer ordered Amberstone to drop the weapon when Amberstone lunged at the officer, “making slashing motions towards him.” The officer “quickly put distance between him and the assailant,” according to police using pepper spray on Amberstone to subdue him.

Police say Amberstone then resisted being handcuffed with additional officers and employees working in the area coming to assist the police officer in his arrest. Amberstone was disarmed and taken to Southampton Hospital along with two officers who were treated for minor injuries and released.

He was charged with attempted assault in the second degree on a police officer, menacing a police officer – felony crimes – as well as misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest, reckless endangerment in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

Amberstone was held for morning arraignment at Southampton Town Justice Court.

Town Cops Bust OT By $225,000

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By Claire Walla

Much to the surprise of all members of the Southampton Town board, the Southampton Town Police Department has already spent $225,000 more than was allotted in its 2011 overtime budget — and it continues to accrue more debt.

At a town board work session held last Friday, October 28 the board met with Lieutenant Bob Pearce, Deputy Town Comptroller Kathy Scott and Town Management Services Administrator Russell Kratoville to discuss how the police department managed to run such a high deficit. Police Chief Bill Wilson was unavailable last week, though he is scheduled to address the issue again at this Friday’s work session, November 4.

According to Pearce, there are several factors for the overtime shortage. Not only was the department overworked in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, he said a recent shortage of staff has contributed to the need to dip into overtime. The department has lost four officers, bringing its force down to 92, and there are currently eight officers who are out, six of whom are being replaced in their absence.

Councilman Chris Nuzzi demanded to know why, from 2008 through 2011, when there wasn’t a huge variance in the number of police officers, “there is a huge variance in overtime,” he said. “I think drilling down to the details is necessary to see how these numbers shifted.”

Pearce further explained that when Chief Wilson joined the town he increased the number of sectors with 24-hour patrol from seven to eight, adding an additional patrol car for the Flanders/Riverside area, which Pearce said studies have showed has a relatively high rate of crime and warrants 24-hour patrol.

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said that it’s important to maintain eight sectors of patrol.

“We saw a very active season this year and there was a commensurate rise in crime activity that needed to be investigated,” she said.

For that reason, Throne-Holst said that the rise in costs came from the detective division.

According to figures read off by Russel Kratoville, the detective division generated 91 hours of overtime in July, 170 hours in August, 120 in September and 150 hours during the first 15 days of October.

For Nuzzi, the crux of the issue goes beyond the reasons why the department has accrued this debt, he is concerned with the town’s immediate dilemma. With two months left in this fiscal year, he emphasized the fact that there is currently a zero in the budget line for the department’s overtime pay.

“How are we going to be able to shift resources around to deal with this?” he asked.

The board had previously authorized shifting $175,000 from the department’s retirement fund to off-set this deficit, but that was before it was revealed that these overtime costs are rising.

“I just want to add that I felt as though I was caught,” Councilwoman Nancy Graboski said. “I didn’t know that we were in this position in the first place. I would have felt a whole lot better about authorizing the money if I had known prior to that — or if we had had something in the way of advisory — that there was no more money left.”

Southampton Town Tightens 2012 Budget

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By Claire Walla


Elements of the 2012 tentative budget met with stiff resistance last Monday, October 3 when Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst presented her $80.3 million spending plan. The tentative budget — just shy of this year’s current $81.6 million operating budget — seeks to impose a zero-percent tax levy increase, while at the same time absorbing a $5.1 million increase in fixed costs for state-mandated programs like health insurance and pensions.

For the average homeowner on the Southampton side of Sag Harbor Village  with a house valued at $600,000, town taxes are estimated to be $236, which is $25 lower than the approximate amount village residents paid in 2010.

Based on this year’s tentative budget, a town homeowner outside an incorporated village can expect to pay $835 in town taxes for a home assessed at $600,000. This is estimated to be an $18 increase from 2010.

Your tax rate can be calculated by multiplying each $1,000 of assessed value of your home by 1.391. So, for a home worth $600,000, you would multiply 600 by 1.391 to get $835. That would be your projected tax rate for Southampton Town outside of incorporated villages.

These figures do not include school district taxes.

In order to shrink the town’s budget by more than $5 million without raising taxes, Throne-Holst said it will require taking a “surgical” look at how the town’s services are staffed, organized and presented to the public. While the supervisor has outlined plans for eliminating upwards of 28 positions across all departments, the most sweeping change, for some, will affect law enforcement.

The proposal to cut eight to 10 members of the Southampton Town Police Department’s senior staff is “outrageous,” said a noticeably flustered Councilwoman Nancy Graboski in an interview directly following the supervisor’s presentation.

In order to chop $1.7 million from the police department’s budget, Throne-Holst seeks to implement the town’s “Twenty Years of Service” provision, which, by law, gives the town the authority to “separate from service” those officers who have worked for the town for 20 years or more, awarding them full retirement benefits upon departure. However, Throne-Holst said the town will only have to narrow-in on those eight officers who have served at least 25 years or more to achieve the desired amount of savings.

Throne-Holst said she recognized this tactic will remove senior and therefore more experienced officers from the force, but she added that the department will be able to “fill [positions] from below at a much lower cost.”

This maneuver also feeds into the supervisor’s plan — which was jointly created with Southampton Town Police Chief Bill Wilson — to make the department less “top heavy.”

“The idea is to have more cops and cars on the streets,” rather than in the office doing more administrative tasks, she said.

However, Graboski said she feels it is rather hasty for the town to reorganize the police department from the top down without a more strategic plan for replacing personnel.

“That infrastructure hasn’t been put in place,” she said.

Graboski referred to a plan that was suggested back in 2008 by the then-supervisor, Linda Kabot, to gradually trim the police force by two to three officers each year. It was never enacted.

“The important thing was to use objective criteria,” she continued.

According to Kabot’s suggestion at the time, officers’ attendance records would be reviewed over a five-year term and those officers with weaker performance records would be let go.

In an interview on Monday, Kabot — who had attended the supervisor’s budget presentation — seemed equally perturbed by the proposed budget cuts.

“These proposals [to cut the police force, implement staff layoffs and reorganize departments at town hall] are dusting off ones I had put on the floor a few years ago,” she announced.

Kabot, who is mounting a write-in campaign for supervisor against Throne-Holst in this fall’s election, further criticized the proposed plan to make cuts to the police department only at the very top.

“It is clearly a public statement on the newly founded Superior Officers’ Association (SOA),” said Kabot.

Several members of the SOA attended Monday’s meeting to voice their concerns.

Cutting eight employees “will be devastating to the police department,” Sergeant Michael Zarrow said on behalf of the group.

While the department had budgeted for 96 officers this year, he went on to say that it is now down to 92 based on retirements.

Sergeant Scott Foster added, “The SOA told this town we’re still open to negotiating.”

In addition to those eight members of the police force, the town expects to see six civilian retirements, based on responses from those expressing strong interest in retirement incentives proposed by the town this year. Similar to what the state was offering last year, town employees who choose to retire this year will receive a cash bonus upon departure of $1,000 for each year of service to the town.

But the town will also be eliminating 14 positions, including two attorneys from the town attorney’s office, and positions in the information technology department, land management department, tax receiver’s office, tax assessor’s office and others. The supervisor would not discuss the names of individuals affected by these proposed cuts.

What’s more, the proposed budget aims to curb health insurance costs. Next year, it would be required that all elected officials and non-union administrative employees contribute to their health plans, while benefits for all members of the zoning board of appeals and the planning board would be eliminated.

In terms of reorganization, the supervisor hopes to combine administrative services — particularly at the police department, which she said now uses “archaic” methods for keeping records.

And at town hall she said she hopes to create a Constituent Response Center, which would be operated by one employee and serve as a hub for all departments.

The response center, to be operated by the town’s current citizen’s advocate, Ryan Horn, would be “a first step to establishing centralized citizen information and response services,” Throne-Holst said. It would effectively eliminate two town hall positions.

“While the town certainly regrets the loss of personnel, many of whom have served in positions of rank, the need for cost reductions, greater efficiency and a new view of how to provide police services, made this decision necessary,” the supervisor announced before the crowd Monday night. “We will also continue to explore, in collective bargaining and otherwise, ways to control our police labor costs.”

With the imminent approach of increased restrictions in the months preceding the state’s mandated two-percent tax levy cap (which will go into effect before next year’s budget), Throne-Holst said she chose to keep costs below that mark, mostly for strategic reasons.

Last year, the supervisor’s tentative budget proposed tax hikes of 2.4 percent, money that would be used to pay-down the town’s deficit and increase reserve funds. It was shot down by the town’s Republican majority in favor of a zero percent increase.

“This year I opted to say, ‘Here’s the zero [percent tax levy increase] in a way that I see as sustainable,” she explained. As she sees it, this way the town board has the flexibility to increase taxes by two percent, if it so chooses.

“If the goal is to get to zero, here’s how to do it with a well thought out, truly sustainable plan,” said Throne-Holst.

Attempted Robbery Suspect Found

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Today, Friday, January 14, Southampton Town Police Detective Division reported the arrest of Stella Vassallo, age 28, of Manorville after an investigation into an attempted robbery, which occurred at the Suffolk County National Bank in Watermill on December 31, 2010.

Police reports filed immediately after the incident indicated that bank tellerSunshine Gumbs was allegedly approached by the Vassallo, whom Gumbs reported walked up to the counter with her hands in her pockets, then handed Gumbs a note, which read: “Give me all your money.”

Police say Gumbs asked the woman if she was joking, then asked if she was carrying a gun. The woman then told Gumbs she did not have a gun, but added that she would get one and come back. The woman then left the bank, at which point Gumbs reported she locked the door and called the police.

Subsequently, Southampton Town Police say they received separate reports from two gas stations on CR 39 Southampton of a female who requested to purchase several hundred dollars worth of scratch-off lottery tickets and then left the store without paying after receiving them. According to police, the first instance occurred at the Gulf Station on County Road 39 on Sunday, December 31st at about 8:35 p.m. and the second instance occurred two days later on January 2, at about 7:30 p.m. Police detectives say investigation into these incidents concluded that this was the same female wanted for questioning in the Suffolk County National Bank incident, identified as Vassallo.

The investigation into Vassallo revealed that she was due to appear in 1st Distrcit Court in Central Islip on Thursday January 13th on unrelated charges. Town Police Detectives arrested Vassallo after her Court appearance. She was transported to Police Headquarters and held overnight for arraignment this morning at Southampton Town Justice Court. At arraignment, she was remanded to Suffolk County Correctional Facility in lieu of $52,000 bail.

Vassallo is charged with attempted robbery in the second degree, a felony, and two counts of petit larceny, a misdemeanor.

The Southampton Town Detectives Division is continuing their investigation. Anyone with any additional information concerning this incident or any other crime are encouraged to call the Southampton Town Police Detectives Division at 702-2230, or the Crime Tips Hotline at 728-3454. All information will be kept strickly confidential.

Southampton Man Crashes into Telephone Pole in Sag Harbor

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A Southampton man was transported to Southampton Hospital on Thursday, December 17, after colliding with a telephone pole on Brickiln Road in Sag Harbor at 12:32 in the morning while he wasn’t wearing a seat belt, say police. According to Southampton Town Police, James Jay Durning, 49, was driving his 2003 Mercedes Benz sedan when he drove off the road and struck the pole. After police arrived at the scene,Durning was allegedly found to be intoxicated. Durning faces charges of driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, failing to maintain the lane and driving without a seat belt, both violations. Following the incident, police say the Bridgehampton Fire Department Ambulance transported Durning to Southampton Hospital where he was released with a summons to appear in court at a later date. Police added that Durning’s vehicle was extremely damaged and towed from the scene. The telephone pole, however, was intact.

Police Blotter: Mailbox Crash

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Mailbox Crash

Southampton Town Police say Brian Locascio, 25, of Sag Harbor fell asleep behind the wheel of his car while driving on Noyac Road on Saturday, December 12, at 7:15 a.m. According to police, Locascio drove into several mailboxes and then continued on Noyac Road. He allegedly stopped partially on the road and then fell asleep. Police claim Locascio was intoxicated and that he failed a pre-screen breath test. Locascio faces charges of driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, and aggravated driving while intoxicated, also a misdemeanor, for having a blood alcohol content at or above .18 percent. Locascio was transported to police headquarters for processing and held for a morning arraignment. He also faces charges of leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, a violation.

Juan Posada, 29, of East Hampton was pulled over by Sag Harbor Village Police on Tuesday, December 8, for allegedly driving on Route 114 while using a cell phone. Once stopped, police claim they learned Posada’s license had been suspended for a pending court prosecution from August 2008. Posada faces charges of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor, and unlawful use of a mobile phone, a violation.

While a Sag Harbor Village Police officer was on a routine patrol, he allegedly saw William Lowe, 23, of Bridgehampton urinating on the street in front of a bar on Long Island Avenue. Lowe faces charges of disorderly conduct, a violation. Police say he was processed and released to his mother.

Sag Harbor Village Police say they responded to an alarm allegedly set off by a girl under the age of 16 and a 17-year-old Sag Harbor male who were at Pierson school on Saturday December 5, at around 4:44 p.m. without permission to be on the premises. The teenagers were transported back to police headquarters. The male faces charges of criminal trespass in the third degree, a misdemeanor. Because the female is under 16 years of age she was released to her father.

Sag Harbor Village Police say they stopped Aliaga Guillermo, 47, of East Quogue driving down Main Street with a broken brake light on Thursday, December 10. Police also allegedly discovered that Guillermo’s vehicle registration had been suspended due to an insurance lapse, which is a misdemeanor charge.

A Main Street cafe reported to Sag Harbor Village Police that a bundle of newspapers and a bag of bagels were stolen from the shop early in the morning on Saturday, December 12. Employees of the shop told police that the items had been dropped off at the front of the store and were then stolen. The thief, or thieves, left the ties that hold the newspapers and the bags which carry the bagels at the scene of the crime.

Southampton Town Police say Michael Helstowski, 46, of Bridgehampton was pulled over at the intersection of Lumber Lane and Montauk Highway for driving through a red light on Monday, November 30. Police claim a scan of Helstowski’s license revealed that his drivers license was suspended for failing to pay child support and an insurance lapse. Helstowski’s vehicle registration was also expired, allege police. He faces charges of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor, and driving an unregistered motor vehicle, also a misdemeanor.

Patrick Bentivegna, 37, of Bohemia was allegedly at the intersection of Barclay Drive and Red Coats Lane in North Haven when he drove off the road and into a lake on Sunday, November 29, at 12:24 p.m. Southampton Town Police say Bentivegna’s license was suspended and he was issued a summons. Bentivegna also faces charges of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor.

On Friday, December 4, a Southampton Town Police officer allegedly saw Stelian Popavrabie, 34, of Sunnyside fishing at the end of Lake Road in Bridgehampton while drinking from an open container of alcohol. Police say Popavrabie faces charges of open container, a violation, for drinking in public.

A Sag Harbor man was notified by his bank, Hudson Savings Bank, that six electronic transactions, totaling $53.00 had been made on www.skype.com using his personal account information. The bank said they will follow up on the origins of the transactions.

Southampton Town Police report that a red BMX “Mirraco” bike was stolen from the front yard of an Oak Drive residence in Sag Harbor on Sunday, December 6. The victim, a Sag Harbor mother, told the police that the bike belonged to her 12-year-old son and was worth $550.

A Bridgehampton resident reported to Southampton Town Police that a Lite Speed bicycle, worth $2,500, was stolen from his home though there were no signs of forced entry. The homeowner believes someone who knew the location of the spare key or the alarm access code entered the house and stole the bike.

Earlier this month, a woman attempted to leave a Bridgehampton food store with a cart full of groceries. An employee of the store said the woman passed the point of sale with groceries totaling $292.43, when he caught up with her and made her return the items. The woman then fled the store and although the employee found the woman’s car he wasn’t able to make a civilian arrest.

Approximately seven copper leaders from the gutters of a Bridgehampton home were stolen earlier this month, say a report filed with Southampton Town Police. The homeowner told police that the alarm wasn’t activated nor did a video surveillance of the area offer any information. The copper leaders were valued at $5,000 in total.

The Southampton Town Police Street Crime Unit reportedly shut down a marijuana grow house in Flanders last week. Following a brief investigation, Carl Tarello , 41, admitted to police that he was utilizing his home to grow marijuana. He told police that he had been growing the plant in California prior to moving to New York in March of 2009, and said he believed it should be legal to grow the plant in New York State. After conducting a search of Tarello’s home, police say they found 20 marijuana plants, several pounds of harvested marijuana, four illegally possessed hand guns, 13 long guns, 30,000 rounds of ammunition, a drug scale, packaging material and growing lights and equipment. Tarello faces charges of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a felony, two counts of criminal possession of marijuana in the second degree, a felony, two counts of criminal possession in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor, and unlawfully growing marijuana, a misdemeanor. Tarello was arraigned at Southampton Town Justice Court and remanded to the Suffolk County Jail in lieu of $2,500 bail.