Here are 10 Riverhead News-Review stories you may have missed over the past week. To make sure you stay on top of breaking North Fork news, follow @riverheadnews1 on Twitter.
A 40-year-old Riverhead woman was arrested Sunday by Southampton Town police on a bench warrant for failure to pay a fine in connection with a prior drug possession charge, according to a press release.
Melody Pampena was arrested at around 1:45 a.m. in Riverside after she was caught on an active bench warrant issued by Southampton Town Justice Court for failing to pay a fine for a seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance charge, police said.
Ms. Pampena was held at police headquarters for arraignment.
An audit by the town’s independent audit committee and internal auditor showed that policies and procedures within the town’s community development department could stand to be tightened up to prevent potential wrongdoing.
The audit explored the department’s home improvement program, a state-funded opportunity for local homeowners to receive help upgrading their properties based on their income levels. The program has given out about $1 million to 65 homeowners in town since 2008, community development director Christine Kempner said, though the audit focused on a narrow sample of applications — specifically, seven different files from 2013 were reviewed.
Eight different steps were laid out by the committee to tighten controls, including further formalizing bid withdrawals.
In addition, the committee suggested that efforts to spend available funds should be expedited.
Ms. Kempner said that a pivotal point person at the state level involved in processing files was recently laid off, accounting in part for the delays in funding requests.
Supervisor Sean Walter said that compared to his experience working with the community development during his time as assistant town attorney in the early 2000s — and taking into account that one full-time department employee was laid off in 2011 — results of the audit could not have been better. Only three full-time employees in the department remain.
“That report was as good as it comes considering what we’ve done,” he said.
Ms. Kempner and recreation department supervisor Ray Coyne — whose department underwent an internal audit last year — are both expected to speak to the board at a later date about measures they’ve taken in response to the audits.
A Wading River man was arrested on drunken driving charges Saturday after he was caught in front of Southampton Town police headquarters driving erratically with his daughter in the car, according to a police press release.
Keith Lynch, 46, of Wading River was driving on Old Riverhead Road in Southampton at around 10:30 p.m. when police observed him crossing over the double-yellow line, Southampton Town police said.
After he was pulled over, police found him to be intoxicated and driving with his 14-year-old daughter, officials said.
Mr. Lynch was charged with DWI Leandra’s Law, endangering the welfare of a child and held for morning arraignment, police said.
Child protective services was also notified and his vehicle was impounded, officials said.
Two people were arrested on drunken driving charges at sobriety checkpoints set up in Riverhead Town Saturday, Riverhead Town police said.
Police were assisted by members of the district attorney’s East End DWI Task Force with patrolling, officials said.
The following people were arrested and charged with DWI:
• Bladimir Franco, Riverhead
• Roque Estrada, Flanders
Police said they anticipated running more checkpoints in 2014.
A 48-year-old man from Australia was arrested early Sunday morning on drunken driving charges in Laurel, Southold Town police said.
Francis O’Toole was driving a 2001 Chevrolet westbound on Route 25 just before 1 a.m. when police observed him speeding, officials said.
After he was pulled over, police say they found him to be intoxicated.
Mr. O’Toole was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and speeding, police said.
He was transported to police headquarters, processed and held overnight for arraignment, officials said.
A decade-old lawsuit challenging Riverhead Town’s 2003 master plan update, which Town Board members had considered settling two years ago, was decided in the town’s favor last week. (more…)
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