Tag Archive | "Suffolk County District Attorney"

Man Charged in 1990s Murders of Two Women, Suspected in Third Murder of Woman Found in North Sea

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John Bittrolff of Manorville is accused of murdering two women in the 1990s and suspected in a third murder, in which the woman’s body was found in North Sea. Mugshot courtesy Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

By Tessa Raebeck

A carpenter from Manorville who has been charged with the murders of two women in the 1990s is a also suspect in the death of Sandra Castilla, whose body was found in North Sea in Southampton in December 1993.

John Bittrolff, 48, who is married with two children, was arrested Monday, July 21, and charged with two counts of murder in the second degree. He was arraigned in Central Islip and ordered held without bail.

Mr. Bittrolff is accused of murdering Rita Tangredi, 31, of East Patchogue and Colleen McNamee, 20, of Holbrook, who were both strangled and beaten. They were killed in November 1993 and late January 1994, respectively. Both women are believed by authorities to have been prostitutes.

“The cause and manner of death of both of these women are exactly the same,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a press conference Tuesday, July 22. “There are significant evidentiary similarities between these two murders, Tangredi and McNamee, that he is now charged with and the murder of Sandra Castilla, whose body was found in North Sea in the Town of Southampton.”

The body of Ms. Castilla, 28, of Queens, who was strangled, was found in the woods on November 20, 1993 off Old Fish Cove Road.

The possible connection of Mr. Bittrolff to her murder is still under investigation, according to authorities.

According to Mr. Spota’s spokesman, Robert Clifford, Ms. Castilla “was not a prostitute but led a similar lifestyle.”

Mr. Bittrolff was charged after his brother Timothy submitted his own DNA evidence to the state police database. The DNA was matched to samples found at the crime scenes and police confirmed that John Bittrolff is the killer of both Ms. Tangredi and Ms. McNamee, Mr. Spota said.

“I just feel really relieved, finally,” Ms. Tangredi’s son, Anthony Tangredi, told reporters at the press conference.

Authorities do not believe Mr. Bittrolff to be the serial killer known as the Long Island Serial Killer or the Gilgo Killer who is believed to have murdered 10 to 14 sex workers over a period of 20 years, with the most recent discoveries of remains found in the spring of 2011. That killer dumped his victim’s bodies along Ocean Parkway, near Gilgo Beach and Oak Beach in Suffolk County and Jones Beach State Park in Nassau County.

“The evidence recovered from the bodies of Tangredi and McNamee, the manner in which their bodies were found and the crime scenes are unique to them and very and distinctly different from the Gilgo crime scenes,” Mr. Spota said.

Court Grants Order of Protection for Victim of Alleged Rape in East Hampton

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Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Jason Lee is accused of raping an Irish student at his rental home in East Hampton last August. Photo courtesy Suffolk County District Attorney's office.

Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Jason Lee is accused of raping an Irish student at his rental home in East Hampton last August. Photo courtesy Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

By Tessa Raebeck

A Suffolk County court on Friday granted an order of protection for a woman living in Ireland who was allegedly raped in East Hampton last summer.

Suffolk County Criminal Court Justice Barbara Kahn granted the application, filed by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, for a one-year order of protection against the defendant in the case, Jason Lee, 37, an employee of the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs.

Mr. Lee is accused of raping a 20-year-old Irish student last summer in his East Hampton rental home. He was charged with rape in the first degree in August and pled not guilty in September, after posting $100,000 bail.

The order of protection will not allow Mr. Lee or anyone working on his behalf to contact the alleged victim.

“This court order will provide a level of protection for the victim of this crime, now at home in her native Ireland, who feels that [she] has been harassed and intimidated by visitors in the employ of the defendant, Jason Lee,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a press release.

“We are pleased the court included in the order of protection a specific provision not only barring the defendant from any contact with our victim [but also] importantly, to refrain from communication with her through third parties,” he continued. “This victim has told us she felt intimidated by the emissary sent to speak to her by the defendant, and that she feels she is being watched, increasing her fear and causing her great distress.”

East Hampton Town Police arrested Mr. Lee after coming to his rental house for an unrelated matter, being notified of the alleged rape and finding Mr. Lee hiding in his Range Rover.

Sag Harbor Man Pleads Guilty to July DWI Accident on Route 114

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By Tessa Raebeck

A Sag Harbor man pled guilty Tuesday to charges that while driving drunk last July, he caused a collision that seriously injured a six-year-old boy, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office said in a press release.

William Hurley, 60, of Sag Harbor pled guilty to the seven-count indictment at a court conference in Central Islip. He was charged with two counts of vehicular assault in the second degree, assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree, two counts of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and reckless driving, according to the release issued by District Attorney Thomas Spota.

The charges maintain that while driving drunk on Route 114 in East Hampton Town last July 6, Hurley caused a head-on collision that left a six-year-old boy seriously injured and his mother hospitalized. Hurley was reportedly driving his Toyota pickup truck northbound at around 6:15 p.m. when he crossed the double yellow line and swerved into oncoming traffic where he collided head-on with a southbound BMW driven by Elizabeth Krimendahl, 53, of New York City, according to East Hampton Town Police. His blood alcohol content was .14; the legal limit is .08.

Krimendahl suffered a leg injury in the crash and was taken by helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital. Her young son, Thaddeus, was in a car seat in the backseat and was seriously injured and hospitalized with a skull injury.

Hurley, the owner of Peconic Beverage East on Pantigo Place in East Hampton, was taken to Southampton Hospital and then transferred to Stony Brook at the time of the crash.

The cars collided in an area of Route 114 that is one of the road’s rare straight stretches. According to police, Hurley’s vehicle struck Krimendahl’s close to the double yellow line and both cars ricocheted off one another to opposite sides of the road. The truck rolled over before stopping and the front of the BMW, a four-door sedan, was crushed.

“The defendant,” said District Attorney Spota, “who was driving all over the highway crossing over the double yellow line several times prior to the crash, told East Hampton Town police officers that he was tired, and admitted at the scene that he consumed two drinks made of vodka and grapefruit juice, drinks that he described as ‘strong ones.’”

Hurley, who was described by police as having “glassy, bloodshot eyes,” and smelling of alcohol at the scene, said he thought he had fallen asleep at the wheel, according to Spota.

Following Hurley’s plea of guilty, State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho made a sentencing promise to sentence him to two years’ incarceration and two years of post-release supervision.

Former Suffolk County Lawmaker Pleads Guilty in Mortgage Fraud Case

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During jury selection on Friday for a case regarding his involvement in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme, former Democratic Suffolk County Legislator George Guldi pled guilty to 35 felony charges.

Guldi, from Westhampton Beach, pled guilty to 34 counts of grand larceny and one charge of scheme to defraud in relation to an $82 million mortgage fraud scheme that involved over 60 homes and commercial properties on Long Island, most of them in Southampton, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

One of the properties tied to the case was the 6 Union Street, Sag Harbor property formerly owned by Anselm and Helga Morpurgo.

This was to be Guldi’s second criminal trial this year. He has been incarcerated since March after being found guilty of grand larceny and insurance fraud in an unrelated case. In that case, prosecutors argued Guldi stole money paid by his insurance carrier that should have been held in escrow for the reconstruction of his Westhampton Beach residence, which was destroyed in a house fire in 2008.

Guldi was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison for that conviction. According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, in return for pleading guilty to all of the remaining charges against him, Judge James F.X. Doyle promised Guldi a one-to-three year sentence, which will run concurrently with the sentence he received earlier this year.

Doyle’s decision, which will be finalized at a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, August 31, in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead, was not what Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota had hoped for.

In a press release issued on Friday, Spota said he was “extremely disappointed that, over our objection, the Judge has promised the defendant a sentence that is completely inadequate to punish him and deter the massive mortgage fraud that has so severely impacted our local economy.”

Spota said he has directed Mortgage Fraud Unit prosecutor Thalia Stavrides to ask Judge Doyle to sentence Guldi to the maximum term of incarceration, which is eight and one-third to 25 years consecutive to the four to 12 year sentence he is already serving.

Guldi’s co-defendant in the upcoming trail, Dix Hills attorney Brandon Lisi, also pled guilty on Friday, admitting his role in creating millions of fraudulent mortgage deals to victimize Washington Mutual Bank, JP Morgan Chase and other lenders to buy commercial and residential properties in Sag Harbor, Cold Spring Harbor, Southampton and Huntington.

Lisi was one of two buyers present at the 2007 auction of the Morpurgo home in Sag Harbor, which sold at court-ordered auction for $1.4 million. Attorney Samuel Glass, who with a group of lenders was defrauded by Lisi and Guldi, among others, in the purchase of the Union Street property, said his group hopes to take ownership of the property once the case has been settled, but will have to test market conditions before deciding whether or not to sell the home as is or renovate the dilapidated residence.

Lisi pled guilty to two counts of grand larceny in the first degree and one charge of grand larceny in the second degree. Similar to Guldi, Judge Doyle promised Lisi a one-to-three years’ sentence.

Lisi is also facing separate federal charges in an unrelated case regarding bank and wire fraud charges.

“Mr. Guldi’s greed leaves a trail of financial ruin heretofore unseen in this county,” said Spota. “His scheme to defraud lenders through the use of straw purchasers, false documents and phony loan applications duped financial institutions into loaning him and his co-defendants millions of dollars for houses that today are in default.”

Guldi was a Suffolk County Legislator representing the second legislative district from 1994 to 2003 when he lost a re-election bid to current Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.

East End Digest – July 17

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Sag Harbor: A Legal Education
Twenty East End lawyers and 10 Suffolk County District Attorneys gathered at The American Hotel on Friday for a seminar on “Evidence at the Drunk Driving Trial,” taught by Albany lawyer Peter Gerstenzang. The seminar was co-hosted by Patricia Weiss and Edward Burke, Jr. — both Sag Harbor attorneys. Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano joined the attorneys who were instructed on the topic of police officer testimony at trials.

Above: Sag Harbor attorney Brian De Sesa, lecturer and attorney Peter Gerstenzang and Sag Harbor lawyer Edward Burke, Jr. at a Continuing Legal Education Seminar on Friday. (patricia weiss photo)

Amagansett Farmers Market: Purchase Complete

John v.H. Halsey, President of the Peconic Land Trust announced on Monday, July 14 the formal closing of the transaction that conserves the Amagansett Farmers Market. The Trust will lease the property from Margaret de Cuevas, a long-time supporter of its conservation work. Ms. de Cuevas purchased the property from Pat Struk for $5.5 million; simultaneously, the Town of East Hampton purchased the development rights on 7.56 acres of the 9.33-acre property.

The conservation of the Amagansett Farmers Market and attendant farmland has been under discussion for many years.

“Conservation transactions are complex, and it is not unusual for these transactions to take years before they reach fruition. We are very grateful to Pat Struk for working with us to conserve the market and cannot express fully our gratitude to Maggie de Cuevas for her on-going support of the trust’s conservation work as exemplified by this important acquisition,” said Halsey.

In addition to de Cuevas and Struk, Halsey noted the critical role that the Town of East Hampton played through the purchase of the development rights on the 7.56 acres of farmland included in the market property.

“This transaction shows the power of public and private partnerships. It is a wonderful day for the Trust, the town, and the Amagansett community. We look forward to a vibrant market in Amagansett that highlights the importance of our regional agricultural economy,” Halsey added.

At the closing, the trust announced that it will be signing an operator’s agreement with Eli Zabar, the Manhattan Upper West Side food purveyor, through November 30, 2011. Zabar plans to maintain the community orientation of the market. He, and his wife Devon Fredericks, a long-time East Hampton resident who started Loaves and Fishes, vow to work with the Trust to highlight the importance of regional produce and provide an opportunity for local farmers, fishermen, artisans, and others to sell their products at the market.

Citizens For Fred Thiele: Four Endorsements

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. of Sag Harbor has received the nomination of four statewide political parties for re-election to the New York State Assembly from the second Assembly district, which includes East Hampton, Southampton and southeastern Brookhaven town. Thiele, an independent Republican, has served in the state assembly since 1995. For the 2008 election, Thiele has been endorsed by the Republican, Independence, Working Families and Conservative parties.

“First, let me thank the rank and file members of all four political parties who signed petitions on my behalf,” said Thiele. “I also want to thank the hard working political activists of these parties that made the effort to go door to door during these hot summer days to insure that I would be on the ballot this fall.”

“I am proud to be the nominee of four different political parties which span the spectrum of political ideology in New York State,” he continued. “It demonstrates that my approach of working with people of all political stripes for the common good of eastern Long Island is what people want from their government officials. Excessive partisanship and attack politics may serve the interests of short-sighted political leaders, but it doesn’t solve the problems faced by every day people. Voters want proven leaders who can get things done.”

The seven-term incumbent emphasized that he will campaign on his record of accomplishment during the coming campaign.

“I have worked tirelessly on issues such as education, the environment, health care, and tax reform,” said Thiele. “My district has benefited from record increases in school aid, the new SUNY college campus at Southampton, the Community Preservation Fund to protect open space, state funding for our local hospitals, state funding to protect our bays and waterways like the Peconic Bay and the Forge River the defeat of Broadwater, and new and innovative transportation projects like the South Fork Commuter Shuttle.”

Congress: Hurricane Supplies

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Peter King welcomed news from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin to pre-deploy hurricane supplies to Long Island as early as the end of next week. Because of Long Island’s unique geography, Clinton and King have been pushing FEMA to provide hurricane supplies to the area as was previously done in 2006. In the event that a hurricane does hit Long Island, having supplies already positioned will ensure that residents will be able to receive the assistance and goods that they need in the immediate aftermath.

“it has taken some prodding, but today’s announcement is a clear signal that FEMA intends to take the necessary steps to ensure that Long Islanders get the supplies they need if a hurricane were to hit,” said Clinton on Friday. “While this is a step in the right direction, we are already deep into the hurricane season and cannot afford any delays. I will continue to work to ensure that this process moves forward so that Suffolk and Nassau have the supplies they need.”

“I am pleased to see that FEMA has recognized the urgency in ensuring that Long Island’s prepared to respond in the event of a hurricane,” said King. “I urge them to move as expeditiously as possible to fully stock the facilities.”

According to FEMA, the agency will be moving four pre-positioned disaster supplies containers to Suffolk County by the end of the week. The four 48-foot containers with non perishable item including tents, tarps, generators and first aid kits are scheduled to arrive at the Yaphank office of the county’s fire, rescue and emergency services commission.

State Legislature: Gas Bill Accepted

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced this week that the New York State Legislature has given final passage to state legislation that would promote competition and lower retail gas prices by permitting gasoline retailers to sell unbranded gasoline in addition to their branded product.

The bill amends the General Business Law to invalidate any provision of a franchise with a refiner that would prohibit a dealer or distributor from selling or purchasing unbranded motor fuel. This bill would permit service station dealers who own their own retail locations and distributors who supply such locations to sell unbranded motor fuel.

Motor fuel franchise agreements typically include provisions which permit a service station dealer or distributor to use a particular identifying symbol or trade name owned or controlled by a refiner. In exchange for that right the dealer or distributor must purchase and sell motor fuel supplied solely by the refiner. Distributors are likewise prohibited from supplying unbranded motor fuel to franchised dealers. This situation limits the availability of unbranded motor fuel to New York’s drivers at a time when motor fuel prices are escalating.

“By permitting retailers to sell unbranded fuel, each retailer can go to the wholesale marketplace and find the least expensive product and provide those saving to their customers,” said Thiele. “This legislation breaks the unfair monopolistic practices that Big Oil attempts to impose on retailers. The result will be more competition, more choice, and lower prices for consumers.

The bill now goes before the Governor for approval.

In addition, Thiele has also sponsored and supported the elimination of zone pricing, which has passed the Assembly and the institution of windfall profits on major oil companies with the proceeds to be used for home heating fuel grants and energy conservation, which has also passed the Assembly. Thiele has also sponsored legislation to suspend state taxes on motor fuels, which the senate has passed.

Long Island Farm Bureau: Annual Awards

The Long Island Farm Bureau will honor Dr. Dan Damianos of Pindar Vineyards and Mr. Patrick Voges of NSLGA, both prominent figures in the agricultural community, at Long Island Farm Bureau’s 91st Annual Awards Dinner. The event will take place on Saturday, July 26 at Martha Clara Vineyard.

Dr. Dan Damianos founded Pindar Vineyard in 1979, starting off with just 30 acres of uncultivated land and a vision of grand possibilities for his fledgling vineyard. Now he runs 600 acres in Mattituck, Cutchogue, Peconic and Southold with his three sons Alex, Jason and Pindar Damianos. New vineyards today “have the template” developed by Dr. Dan, one of the industry’s leading pioneers

Mr. Patrick Voges has been involved in the Long Island Horticultural Industry for over 40 years and worked hands-on with the NSLGA. The Farm Bureau commends Mr. Voges for connecting Farm Bureau with NSLGA and realizing the potential behind two strong organizations joining together to speak on behalf of Long Island’s agricultural industry.

In addition, the dinner will boast a cornucopia of “Grown on Long Island” foods and wines provided by local farmers and producers. Ticket sales are open to the public and will include a wide variety of door prizes. Also, the drawing for LIFB’s Annual Raffle will be held at the close of the awards dinner. Prizes include a grand prize of $10,000 cash, a Caribbean vacation and a 42-inch flat panel TV.