Guest Spot: Animal control officer has got to go

by |
04/19/2011 3:17 PM |

For 30 years I’ve been a journalist with NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw and before that with Walter Cronkite of CBS News. I’ve won two Emmys for investigative reporting. My avocation is animal lover and volunteer — not animal activist, which has a negative meaning in Riverhead. For four months since I exposed the lies surrounding the euthanasia of the dog Bruno on Dec. 21 — lies made up by animal control officer Lou Coronesi, who then shared those lies and others about me with Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and Police Chief David Hegermiller — I’ve been banned from being a volunteer or even walking on shelter property.

Mr. Coronesi said Bruno had bitten a child in the face; Councilman Jim Wooten shared the real bite report with me. My own investigation could not even establish if Bruno ever bit anyone in an alleged dog fight. Mr. Coronesi also said I was disrespectful to him. To avoid him, I made a point of going to the shelter when he wasn’t on duty. One day, unfortunately, he was on duty.

With no witnesses around, Mr. Coronesi then defamed me to his bosses. This man, who has been convicted of animal-related crimes, was believed. I was banned just like Linda Mosca of RSVP, who was banned over a year ago.
What’s going on here?

Maybe in the movie “Deliverance” Mr. Coronesi would have been kept on the job, but in the real world, I believe it’s scandalous that he still is collecting a paycheck from Riverhead taxpayers after criminal convictions dating to 2003 for unlawfully hunting and possessing animals protected by federal law, and then driving with a suspended license. This and the disrespectful way he’s treated volunteers and lied about them can’t be countenanced any further. The man must go.

What is the union thinking protecting Mr. Coronesi, who has a criminal record? And what is Mr. Walter thinking protecting such a person in an election year? And why did Mr. Walter set me up in a distorted story about a medical situation that I was just reporting about at a town meeting so proper medical attention could be given to shelter animals. To his credit, Mr. Walter says the dogs at the Riverhead Animal Shelter are now being tested regularly for disease.

Well over a year ago I adopted two badly injured pit bull puppies from Riverhead. They were going to be euthanized because of financial reasons, I was told. With the help of Gail Waller, private donations and the badly maligned rescue group RSVP, whose members have saved so many Riverhead shelter dogs, the pit puppies now are well and in great homes. RSVP is the reason why the euthanasia rate in Riverhead — that never has many dogs to start with — seems low.

I also know that authorities have a way of distorting facts and figures. I sued Southampton Town after I was unlawfully banned from its shelter for what I reported firsthand. I know that records can be changed or never turned in. I know that records can be more fiction than fact. I won a jury trial in federal court in Islip and an appellate court decision over this matter and the violation of my First Amendment rights.

The Bruno case is a paradigm of what a lying employee can get away with. In the April 7 issue of the Riverhead News-Review Chief Hegermiller was quoted as saying, “Lou is more by the book, which I don’t think they (the animal activists) like.” Chief, if Mr. Coronesi’s killing of Bruno was “by the book,” then you knew Bruno was supposed to be walked finally by volunteers — after isolation since Oct. 7 — because that was all written down. Mr. Wooten learned that Mr. Coronesi had indeed informed his superiors of Bruno’s change of status. Nevertheless he was euthanized. Why?

And why, Chief Hegermiller and Supervisor Walter, do you continue to advocate and protect this man who disrespects or bans volunteers and does as little as possible to provide a good life, exercise and homes for the animals in his charge?

Ms. Lynch is a New York City and Southampton resident.



1,623 Comment

  • Welcome to Riverhead! Any in-depth investigations by your media buddies would be greatly appreciated. There are more problems than the shelter.

  • Good story Just the tip of the iceberg…..

  • Another cover-up by Sandmine Sean and the Chief of Riverhead’s notorious Donut Squad (yes, chief we believe all that graffiti has nothing to do with gangs)?

  • being involved as a shelter volunteer,I can tell you its not the dogs that stink!

  • Mr Lynch

    Why don’t you do an expose’ on how poorly the middle-class is being treated in this country and how it is becoming more and more difficult for us to survive? There is an old saying (I’m sure you’re familiar with, after sharing your vast credentials) that is appropriate for everything that we hear about the Riverhead Shelter: ” If you’re always yelling, you’re never yelling.” For God’s sake, aren’t there more pressing issues in the Town today than a shelter for dogs? So a pit bull was euthanized! How about complaining about the irresponsible owners who buy these pets then dump them on the Town, placing the burden of raising their dog on the taxpayer? Why do we even take-in pets from an owner who just decides he doesn’t want one anymore? How about charging the pet owner for its care? Your song is getting old and I am one Riverhead taxpayer who is tired of listening.

  • Mittabuk, How about euthanizing you! You wouldn’t have to pay any more taxes.

  • Benja, you injured me with words!

  • Mittabuk, You are missing a very important point. Why is it, with this town employee’s criminal record and numerous other offenses – including lying to the Town Supervisor – is he still employed? Can you spell P-A-T-R-O-N-A-G-E? And if that is the name of the game, how can you ever expect to successfully deal with “more pressing issues in the town”?

  • Just take a look at the riverhead shelter and you can see howm much this town cares. I should say DOESN’T care…

  • Ms. Lynch,

    My name is Jay Diaz, I am one of Lou Coronesi’s Labor Reps. I find it ironic that a person who for whatever reason is banned from multiple animal shelters and remains banned from them has the gall to keep rambling about an issue that you have been told numerous times is a private Town matter.

    I find you and your cohorts to be nothing more than deplorable windbags who have nothing better to do with their time but face off through a one sided journalistic piece against legitimate working members of mine……this just makes me wonder.

    Yourself and people like Rex Farr and his Calverton Association cronies have done nothing but make trouble for Lou, the Town of Riverhead and for many people who read this fine paper. Your non-stop bantering over a dog named Bruno is a broken record that needs to be taken off the turntable and trashed already. Lou Coronesi did his job as directed by the Town Supervisor. The details of this dogs demise is a private matter that does not need to be repeated over and over again in a public forum. (Perhaps Mr. Wooten should pay close attention to this part)

    For a person who claims to be an investigative journalist, you backstory seems flimsy and half truthed at best. Why dont you explain the real reasons why you and Linda Mosca were banned from the shelter??? all you say is that Mr. Coronesi defamed you to his boss (does this person have a name??) and then you were banned?….that makes no sense. Maybe it was the unprofessional antics and many hissy fits you both kept throwing so RSVP could take over the Shelter is the real reason…maybe im guessing here…and why the hell is Jim Wooten sharing Private confidential documents and reports with you??? I think I will become an investigative person myself and find out what that is all about. Should a report that concerns a private Town matter (according to Town Supervisor Sean Walter) be shared with a Town resident or persons who don’t even pay taxes in the Town of Riverhead..I should think not.

    Also, you and Rex Farr like to keep talking about Lou Coronesi’s ‘criminal background’? If you had one ounce of investigative skill you should know full well that Mr. Farr was imprisoned for years for comitting crimes far worse than Mr. Coronesi’s traffic tickets, but yet has the nerve to throw stones?

    Truth be told…Bruno bit the child of the person who called the case into the Town. Whether a child is 1 or 100 really is not the point. The person who was bit sought medical treatment and it was reported properly. Chief Hegermiller and Mr. Coronesi performed their duties in this case with no flaw. There was no lies involved here. Mr. Coronesi did his duty as detailed in his job description. As far as the Union defending Mr. Coronesi..we will continue to do so till the bitter end. The Union will stand up to people like yourself and the so-call associations that are trying to defame him. We will also aggressively pursue the actions of Councilman Wooten and his blatant disregard for confidentiality and privacy.