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Man with arrest record asks permission to drive Riverhead taxi

05/31/2018 6:00 AM |

Should a man convicted of selling drugs in Florida in 2012 be allowed to drive a taxi cab in Riverhead?

That’s a question Town Board members must answer soon. 

Unlike other towns, Riverhead did not establish a licensing appeal board as part of its 2011 taxi cab legislation. Instead, that job falls to Town Board members, who heard a local man’s appeal at last Thursday’s work session.

That law says the town clerk must deny any permit if the applicant has a felony conviction within the last 10 years involving “the manufacture, transportation, possession, or sale of illegal drugs as defined by New York Penal Law.”

For Larry Segal of Riverhead, a 2012 conviction for selling drugs in Florida was enough to get his cabbie permit rejected, and he made his case to the Town Board last week. 

He said he had a debilitating stroke in 2006 and was unable to work, having been a salesman most of his life. He got a sales job after three years, he said, but then Florida’s economy fell through, he was out of work again and was going to lose his house. 

“I got involved in what I should not have gotten involved in, and I started selling drugs to pay my mortgage,” Mr. Segal said. “I was not what you’d call a doer. I was just trying to make a life because there was no living to be made. I apologize. I did my time. I did the crime, and if you look at my record, I really don’t have anything else on my record.”

The conviction involved two counts of sale of Oxycodone to an undercover police officer, according to town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz.  

Mr. Segal said whenever he goes on a job interview, they see the felony and his application goes right into the trash.

“They don’t even look at it,” he said. 

Mr. Segal, 61, says his family has been in Riverhead for 100 years and that he’s been clean and sober for seven years. (Segal Avenue is named for his family.)

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke cigarettes, I don’t do anything. I have a clean driver’s license. All I basically want to do is get an opportunity to make a living,” he said.

Mr. Kozakiewicz said records show that Mr. Segal was released from jail in Florida Feb. 15, 2015, and is currently on probation with an anticipated day of release from supervised probation on Feb. 15, 2019.

Mr. Segal said he wants to live in Riverhead to be near his parents, who are both in their 90s. 

“I’m kind of embarrassed to be here because of what I did, but I’ve still got to make a living,” he said. 

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said the Town Board will likely make a decision on Mr. Segal’s case at its June 5 meeting. She said the requirements in the town’s taxi cab laws are not common in other types of jobs. 

She said the requirements are intended for the safety of the public.

“This is the only major crime I’ve done in my life,” Mr. Segal said. “I’ve paid for it.” 

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