06/17/14 4:00pm
06/17/2014 4:00 PM
Riverhead Police Chief David Hergemiller (left) joined SCDA Thomas Spota at Tuesday's press conference to unveil a plan to combact drunken drivers. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller (left) joined SCDA Thomas Spota at Tuesday’s press conference to unveil a plan to combat drunken drivers. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

East End law enforcement agencies joined Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota Tuesday afternoon to unveil a plan to bolster sobriety checkpoints on land and at sea this summer.

The East End DWI Task Force will conduct additional checkpoints aimed at cracking down on drunken an drug impaired drivers and boaters, Mr. Spota announced during a press conference at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Hampton Bays.

(more…)

06/12/14 3:38pm
06/12/2014 3:38 PM
Police at the scene of the fatal hit and run on Route 58 near Woodcrest Avenue in  July 2013. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

Police at the scene of the fatal hit and run on Route 58 near Woodcrest Avenue in July 2013. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

With just five days left in the New York State Assembly session, North Fork and East End lawmakers are making a last-minute push to drum up support for bills that would increase penalties for hit-and-run drivers who flee the scene of serious accidents.

Those bills — including one co-sponsored by the North Fork’s assemblyman, Anthony Palumbo — are currently stalled in committee, where they have sat since January. The legislators say they have until Tuesday to get a bill out of the committee and onto the floor for a full Assembly vote. (more…)

02/28/14 8:00pm
02/28/2014 8:00 PM
A Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps volunteer displays the drug Narcan, which is used to treat opiate overdoses. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps volunteer displays the drug Narcan, which is used to treat opiate overdoses. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Last week’s crackdown on a heroin ring brought to light a massive Harlem-to-Riverhead operation that used Route 58 as a distribution hub, but numbers provided this week by the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office show that abuse of heroin is nothing new in our area.

(more…)

11/13/13 10:40pm
11/13/2013 10:40 PM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Joe Johnson (top) leaves court last year with a lawyer

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Joe Johnson (top) leaves court last year with a lawyer

The Riverhead elementary school teacher arrested last year on weapons and other charges after a traffic stop in Southampton has side-stepped the gun charges, pleading guilty only to driving while intoxicated — an outcome prosecutors blamed on an illegal police search.

Joe Johnson, 40, a fourth-grade teacher at Phillips Avenue Elementary School, was arrested by Southampton Village police about 3:30 a.m. on April 21, 2012. He’s been on leave at his home ever since, pending the outcome of the criminal case, Riverhead School District officials have said.

Judge James Hudson agreed with prosecutors’ assessment of the search, which resulted in the discovery of the handgun, prosecutors said.

“After a review of the facts and circumstances of the arrest, and an analysis of applicable law relating to the police officer’s post-arrest search of the car and consequential discovery of the gun, the district attorney’s office determined it could not sustain the burden of proof necessary to establish the legality of the search,” reads a press release issued about 10:30 p.m. by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office.

Mr. Johnson, who had also been a high school basketball coach prior to his arrest, was facing multiple gun charges after police had caught him driving drunk, allegedly with an illegal loaded semi-automatic pistol in his car.

He was indicted by a grand jury in May 2012.

The top charge Mr. Johnson faced was second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a Class C violent felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

Mr. Johnson is due to be sentenced on the DWI charge on Jan. 8.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that town police arrested Joe Johnson in April 2012. 

Southampton Village police made the arrest.

06/27/13 9:50pm
06/27/2013 9:50 PM

Cordell Tucker was sentenced to 7 1/3 to 22 years in prison.

A Brooklyn man who caused a fatal car accident while fleeing police after a shoplifting spree at Tanger Outlets in 2011 was sentenced to the maximum of 7 1/3 to 22 years in prison today, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

Cordell Tucker, 26, was convicted in May of second-degree manslaughter for the death of a 62-year-old Holbrook woman. A jury also convicted him of second-degree assault, third-degree grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and reckless endangerment.

Today was the two-year anniversary of the crash, Mr. Spota said.

Mr. Tucker, along with two friends, stole $5,000 worth of jeans from True Religion Store in Tanger before leading police on a high-speed pursuit in excess of 100 miles per hour, Mr. Spota said. In West Sayville, Mr. Tucker ran a red light and broadsided Gail Sacher’s car, killing her and critically injuring her husband, Alan.

joew@timesreview.com

10/18/12 11:30am
10/18/2012 11:30 AM
Douglas Rico, Thomas Spota, Riverside, Budget Host Inn

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Douglas Rico (inset) admitted to cops he killed his girlfriend during sex at the Budget Host Inn near the Riverside traffic circle.

A homeless man who admitted to suffocating a homeless woman during sex at the Budget Host Inn in Riverside last year pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in Suffolk County court Wednesday.

Douglas Rico, 46, had been arrested on that charge on May 7, 2011 in connection with the death of 53-year-old Henrietta Sholl.

Mr. Rico had told police in a statement following his arrest for the May 4, 2011 incident, “I had sex with Henrietta and put a pillow over her head. I must’ve made her stop breathing. I am sorry.”

He originally pleaded not guilty to the first-degree manslaughter charge, which is a class B felony that carries a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in jail, but reportedly agreed to plead guilty Wednesday after Judge John Tommey Jr. promised to sentence him to no more than seven years, according to a Newsday report.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office was seeking a 10-year sentence for Mr. Rico, according to Bob Clifford, a DA spokesman.

Ms. Scholl’s lifeless body was discovered on a bed at the hotel by cleaning staff. Ms. Rico told police he had known her for three years. Ms. Scholl had been living at the hotel since her release from jail on April 14, 2011 on a shoplifting charge from the previous November.

tgannon@timesreview.com

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