09/23/14 3:37pm
(Credit: Carrie Miller)

(Credit: Carrie Miller)

Update (6:30 p.m.):  The “suspicious package” prompting an evacuation of the state Supreme Court buildings near downtown Riverhead Tuesday afternoon turned out to be an attorney’s briefcase, Riverhead Town police said.

Detective Timothy Hubbard said an attorney contacted police notifying them that he had forgotten to retrieve the bag, after putting it down to drop off something at the courts.

“He came back to pick it up and all was in order,” Det. Hubbard said.

Police cleared the scene about 3:40 p.m., allowing people back inside, he said.

Original Story: The state Supreme Court buildings near downtown Riverhead were evacuated Tuesday after reports of a “suspicious package” on the second floor of one of the buildings, New York State court officers said.

As of 3:30 p.m., a Suffolk County Police Department bomb squad unit was on the scene near the complex’s Court Street entrance.

A man reporting for jury duty at the time of the report said a police officer asked everyone inside to evacuate.

“He said it in a calm manner, but didn’t say if it was for a drill or an emergency,” said the man, Gregory Merz. “Right away I didn’t feel a sense of urgency, but I realized when they said a bomb squad was coming to investigate that it was not a drill.”

Mr. Merz said he was asked to leave the building about 2 p.m.

It was not clear what, exactly, was found in the building or if the bomb squad had made any determination as to whether it was dangerous.

09/23/14 12:00pm
A man was found dead in his home on Roanoke Avenue last week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A man was found dead in his Roanoke Avenue home last week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Riverhead Town employees who had arrived at a Roanoke Avenue home last Thursday morning to demand its 72-year-old owner clean up his yard got a shock when they discovered the man had died.

Last Tuesday, the Riverhead Town Board passed a resolution authorizing the town engineering department to clean up property owned by George Atkinson under a provision of the Town Board that allows such cleanups in the event of properties that contain weeds, grass or vegetation in excess of 10 inches, as well as yard waste, rubbish, litter and garbage.

The resolution stated that Mr. Atkinson was directed “to abate the aforementioned conditions on or before Sept. 4″ but had failed to do so.

The cost of the cleanup, which the resolution estimated at $1,500, would then be added to Mr. Atkinson’s tax bill.

Police Chief David Hegermiller said workers who arrived around 10 a.m. last week to clean up the property found Mr. Atkinson dead in his house.

The chief said neighbors told police they hadn’t seen him around lately.

“There was no sign of foul play,” Mr. Hegermiller said. He added that it was unknown how long Mr. Atkinson, who lived alone, had been dead.

Mr. Atkinson, 72, was a retired Riverhead Fire Department dispatcher and a volunteer with the fire department’s Eagle Hose Company. He also served in the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1964, according to his family.

He was buried today, Sept. 23, in St. John’s Cemetery.

09/23/14 7:50am

A 21-year-old Flanders man was charged with misdemeanor weapons and drug possession after he was pulled over in Riverside Sunday night, state police said.

Jaymie Petraszewski was stopped on Flanders Road about 9 p.m. for “moving from [his] lane unsafely,” according to a state police news release. State troopers found Mr. Petraszewski had two pills of diazepam, a prescription medication, as well as a “double-edged dagger,” a state trooper said.

He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation, according to the police statement. He was released with a court date in Southampton Town next month, police said.

09/22/14 12:01pm
09/22/2014 12:01 PM
The former North Fork and Capital One bank building in Mattituck. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

The former North Fork and Capital One bank building in Mattituck. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A North Fork real estate giant has closed a deal to buy the former Capital One bank property in Mattituck, and workers have already begun work on the property.

Alan Cardinale, who runs Cardinal Management in Mattituck which owns both the Mattituck Plaza and Jamesport Center, closed on the property at 9025 Main Road in Mattituck for an undisclosed sum on Sept. 2, said Samuel Clark of the Manhattan commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield, the firm that sold the property.

The property had been sold at an auction on July 30, with a starting bid set at $600,000. But the property did not meet its reserve to sell during the auction and was sold in a “re-capture,” a transaction offer that occurred outside of the auction itself, a representative from the auction company said.

Mr. Cardinale did not return phone calls to his office seeking comment.

This isn’t the first time Alan Cardinale has owned the Main Road property. In November 1982, he purchased the property — then a supermarket — for $175,000 at foreclosure, said town assessor Kevin Webster.

Two years later, Mr. Cardinale sold the property to North Fork Bancorp for $975,000, according to town property records. The building served as the headquarters for North Fork Bank, until Capital One purchased the bank and the building in 2006. Though bank management said no jobs would be at risk, the call center on the property was shut down in 2011 and put onto the market two years later.

Tax assessor records show the property has a full market value of $10,683,000 with an assessed value of $124,995.

Workers are now at the former office building doing landscaping and maintenance around the property. Last week, several workers said they were hired to make improvements to the property while the new owner searches for a tenant for the building.

An easement on the property from 1984 prevented previous owners from using the property for anything other than office space. But now that Mr. Cardinale is the owner again, the easement could be retired and the building would only require a site plan approval to house retail space again, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell had said in an interview last month.

Mr. Russell said he hadn’t yet spoken to Mr. Cardinale.

psquire@timesreview.com