11/19/10 4:15pm
11/19/2010 4:15 PM


NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Casa Rica Restaurant and Sports Bar on East Main Street


Casa Rica Restaurant and Sports Bar in Riverhead, which was shut down earlier this month after several violent incidents including one where a man was attacked with a machete,  has offered to terminate its liquor license and pay a fine, according to the New York State Liquor Authority.

“Their attorney put in an offer that our council is considering,” said State Liquor Authority spokesman William Crowley.

The state took emergency action and closed Casa Rica, which is owned by Porterillo’s Corp,  Nov. 3 days after a man was stabbed several times in the torso in the bar’s bathroom. A hearing on the establishment’s liquor license was originally scheduled for Nov. 12 but was rescheduled for today, Friday. Today’s hearing was also canceled.

Lawrence Goldstein, the Hempstead-based attorney representing the East Main Street bar, made the offer Wednesday to terminate the license and pay a fine rather than go through with a hearing. When reached Friday, Mr. Goldstein refused to comment without prior approval from his client.

Mr. Crowley said if the State Liquor Authority’s attorneys agree to the deal, it will then go before its board of directors for approval.

The Riverhead Police Department has been called to the downtown establishment, which opened in Jan. 2009, 129 times since Feb. 5, 2009. This has resulted in 26 violations, two misdemeanors and 10 felony charges.

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller, who learned of the deal this morning, said shutting down the bar saves the town overtime costs because the department stationed officers there during weekends .
“It will greatly reduce the crime [on Main Street] plus improve the quality of life,” he said.

vchinese@timesreview.com

10/31/10 8:03pm
10/31/2010 8:03 PM

COURTESY PHOTO Elmer Miranda-Depaz

A Flanders man is being held at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside after failing to post $100,000 bail for stabbing and critically injuring a Riverhead man during an altercation at Casa Rica Restaurant and Sports Bar on East Main Street in Riverhead early Tuesday morning.

Elmer Miranda-Depaz, 28, appeared before Town Justice Richard Ehlers this morning wearing a white paper jumpsuit and yellow paper covering on his feet. Riverhead Detective Sergeant Robert Loggia said police took Mr. Miranda-Depaz clothes for evidence.

An attorney representing Mr. Miranda-Depaz requested a lower bail explaining that his client worked construction jobs and would not have the money needed. Mr. Miranda-Depaz is due back in court Wednesday.

The victim, identified as 35-year-old Hugo Alberto, was taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. He is listed in critical condition.

Police said the two men, who were acquaintances, got into an altercation shortly before 2 a.m. at the restaurant when Mr. Miranda-Depaz pulled out an 8-inch knife and stabbed Mr. Alberto in the upper torso several times. Police could not say how many times Mr. Alberto was stabbed. Det. Sgt. Loggia said police did not know what sparked the fight because they have not yet spoken to the victim.

Following the stabbing, witnesses then followed Mr. Miranda-Depaz out of the bar and were able to point him out to police, authorities said.

A cleaning crew was spotted outside the bar about 8 a.m. this morning, according to Raymond Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District and owner of the nearby Robert James Salon.

Mr. Pickersgill said he is fed up with the bar and the recurrent crime it brings downtown.

“I would love to see them move,” he said. “It’s not right for here. It just brings a bad element.”

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter was reportedly at the scene this morning and had vowed to report the establishment to the New York State Liquor Authority. Mr. Walter did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

In August, the State liquor authority raided Casa Rica and charged owner Carlos Moreno-Bonilla for not conforming to government regulations regarding security guards and also for failing to adhere to building codes and fire regulations.

Mr. Morena-Bonilla was also arrested for employing unlicensed security guards in June.

In addition to the stabbing, Riverhead Police responded to Casa Rica several other times over the weekend.

On Saturday, Hugo Vargas, 21, of Riverhead was arrested there about 1 a.m. and charged with third-degree robbery, town police said. No additional information was available. On Sunday, town police said Hermelindo Mayan-Carias, 41, of Flanders was arrested near the restaurant about 1 a.m. and charged with public urination.

Police were called to the establishment for disturbances three additional times on Sunday night, though no arrests were made.

vchinese@timesreview.com


This post was originally published Oct. 19, 2010

10/31/10 8:01pm


BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTOA stabbing at Casa Rica Restaurant and Sports Bar Tuesday morning has renewed a call to close the establishment.


A 28-year-old Flanders man was arrested early Tuesday for allegedly stabbing an acquaintance multiple times during a fight that broke out inside the bathroom at Casa Rica Restaurant and Sports Bar in downtown Riverhead, authorities said.

The second knife attack in as many years at the troubled establishment has renewed calls to have Casa Rica shut down. When the stabbing victim stumbled outside the East Main Street bar and was found by Riverhead police about 2 a.m. Tuesday, it marked the fifth time officers had been called there in a 72-hour period.

The alleged stabber, Elmer Miranda-Depaz, is being held at the Suffolk County jail on $100,000 bail. He appeared before Riverhead Town Justice Richard Ehlers Tuesday morning wearing a white paper jumpsuit and yellow paper coverings on his feet. Riverhead Police Detective Sergeant Robert Loggia said investigators had taken Mr. Miranda-Depaz’ clothes for evidence.

At the hearing, a lawyer representing Mr. Miranda-Depaz requested lower bail, explaining that his client worked construction jobs and would not have the money. Mr. Miranda-Depaz is due back in court Friday.

Meanwhile, the victim, identified as 35-year-old Hugo Alberto, was listed in critical condition at Stony Brook University Medical Center Tuesday. Prosecutors said he lost a substantial amount of blood during the fight and had undergone surgery Tuesday morning.

Police said the two men got into an argument during which Mr. Miranda-Depaz pulled out an eight-inch knife and stabbed Mr. Alberto several times in the upper torso. Police could not say how many times Mr. Alberto was stabbed. Det. Sgt. Loggia said police did not know what sparked the fight because they had not yet spoken to the victim.

After the stabbing, police said, witnesses followed Mr. Miranda-Depaz out of the bar and pointed him out to police.

Mr. Alberto was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and then transferred to Stony Brook due to the severity of his wounds.

A cleaning crew was spotted outside the bar hours later as other businesses along East Main Street were beginning to open for business Tuesday, said Raymond Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District and owner of the neighboring Robert James Salon and Spa.

Mr. Pickersgill said he is fed up with the bar and the recurrent crime it brings downtown.

“I would love to see them move,” he said. “It’s not right for here. It just brings a bad element.” In addition to the stabbing, Riverhead Police responded to Casa Rica several other times over the weekend.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter vowed in Town Hall Tuesday to pressure the New York State Liquor Authority to shut down the establishment, which keeps late hours and caters to a Latino clientele.

In a radio interview Tuesday on WRIV 1390 AM, Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said police have been called to the bar about 70 times since it opened less than two years ago.

Mr. Walter told the News-Review he has directed town attorneys to investigate the possibility of requiring Riverhead restaurants that also have liquor licenses to obtain a special permit from the town. He said that way the town can revoke the permit and shut down a business without having to consult the State Liquor Authority.

Mr. Alberto was the second person critically injured in a knifing at Casa Rica in as many years. In July 2009, a 38-year-old Riverhead man attacked someone with a machete in a 3 a.m. fight that spilled off the bar’s rear deck and into the parking lot. The victim, also a Flanders man, suffered deep wounds to his arm and neck.

This August, the State Liquor Authority raided Casa Rica and charged owner Carlos Moreno-Bonilla for not conforming to government regulations regarding security guards and also for failing to adhere to building codes and fire regulations.

In June, Mr. Moreno-Bonilla was charged with employing unlicensed security guards.

In regard to those charges, the State Liquor Authority has scheduled a hearing in connection with proceedings to suspend, cancel or revoke Casa Rica’s liquor license. That hearing is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 11:30 a.m. in the Nassau County Supreme Court building on 100 Supreme Court Driving in Mineola.

The stabbing early Tuesday actually marked the fifth time police had been called to the bar since Saturday, when Hugo Vargas, 21, of Riverhead was arrested there on robbery charges. Riverhead Police were called there four times on Sunday. During those visits they charged one man with public urination.

The owner of the building, East Hampton developer Richard Gherardi, could not be reached for comment.

vchinese@timesreview.com


This post was originally published Oct. 20, 2010