01/19/14 9:43am
01/19/2014 9:43 AM

A Southold man was arrested for driving high with a child in the car in Flanders early Saturday, Southampton Town Police said.

Jacob Riehl, 23, was stopped by police on Flanders Road near Red Creek Road in Flanders shortly after 1 a.m. He was found to be high on marijuana at the time he was pulled over, police said.

He was charged with DWI Leandra’s law, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful possession of marijuana, according to a press release.

SH_Cops15

12/18/13 7:00am
12/18/2013 7:00 AM
GOOGLE MAPS

GOOGLE MAPS

A 37-year-old Riverside man was arrested after police received a 911 call reporting a man dancing in the street near Marcy and Osborn avenues late Friday in Riverhead, police said.

Upon arrival, officers found Willie Bryant, who appeared to be under the influence of narcotics, in the roadway just before 10 p.m., according to a police report.

He was found holding 10 small bags of what tested positive for heroin, and a cigarette that tested positive for PCP, the report reads.

Mr. Bryant was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, police said.

He has a history of drug-related arrests in the Riverhead area.

11/30/13 8:00am
11/30/2013 8:00 AM
PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Attorney Vincent Messina (right) speaks to the Riverhead ZBA with researcher Stephen Dewey on behalf of a proposed addiction facility in Calverton.

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Attorney Vincent Messina (right) speaks to the Riverhead ZBA with researcher Stephen Dewey on behalf of a proposed addiction facility in Calverton.

To the Editor:

Concerning the proposed drug rehab facility for Calverton, there are many questions that come to mind. Has there been a study to determine the impact on the community? One drug addict terrorized the East End, including an armed robbery at the Hess station in Calverton. How many drug addicts will this facility bring to Calverton? What is the release policy from this rehab facility? If they flunk out do they just waltz out the door to Calverton?

Isn’t it enough that we have a giant prison right down the road?

Christine Shields, Calverton

11/17/13 2:30pm
DUI, Brookhaven National Laboratory, bicyclist, Calverton

WILLIAM SLATTON after the 2012 arrest

The attorney for the man arrested last year for fatally striking a bicyclist along Route 25 in Calverton as he allegedly drove under the influence of drugs with a suspended license and his four young children in the car expects the charges against his client will soon be dropped.

But now William Slatton is once again in trouble with the law. The 31-year-old Farmingville man was arrested Wednesday on a fourth-degree grand larceny charge, a class E felony,  for using a credit card stolen from a Middle Island home, Suffolk County police said. A source familiar with the case said Mr. Slatton stole the card from the home of the mother of his kids, while he was visiting them last weekend.

STEVEN KANE

STEVEN KANE

Mr. Slatton made headlines last year following the Nov. 1 crash which killed avid bicyclist Steven Kane, 57, of Brightwaters, the manager of safety engineering at Brookhaven National Laboratory who was pronounced dead at the scene despite the efforts of several passing motorists to save him.

Mr. Slatton is facing charges of driving while ability impaired by drugs, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child following his arrest last year. His attorney, Joseph Cozzo of Central Islip, said he anticipates charges in that case will be dismissed since Mr. Slatton was under the influence of methadone at the time of the crash, a drug he was using as part of his court-ordered treatment for heroin addiction.

“He was on methadone and he was getting it from a Suffolk County clinic,” Mr. Cozzo said Sunday. “I can’t speak for the District Attorney’s office, but I do anticipate charges being dismissed.”

Mr. Slatton is due back in Riverhead Town Justice Court Dec. 11 in relation to the crash, Mr. Cozzo said.  He has been free on bail since late last November after his bail was reduced from $50,000 to $1,000, which Mr. Cozzo previously told the News-Review was lowered so he could spend the holidays with his family.

Even if the crash charges are dismissed, Mr. Slatton could still face jail time for violating the terms of probation in relation to the 2007 felony attempted drug possession conviction that led to his suspended license. He’s due back in court Dec. 13 on the probation violation, online court records show.

“With this new arrest, he’s going to be in more trouble now,” said Mr. Cozzo, who is not representing Mr. Slatton in connection with his latest arrest.

The District Attorney’s office could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The source who alerted the News-Review to Mr. Slatton’s latest arrest said the father of four recently relapsed in his drug treatment and no longer lives with his children and their mother.

“He has stolen from family more times than I choose to remember and this time he went too far,” the source said.

Mr. Slatton is being held at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility on $7,500 cash bail or $15,000 bond, and is due back in district court Tuesday, jail officials said.

gparpan@timesreview.com

10/04/13 4:15am
10/04/2013 4:15 AM
COURT DOCUMENT IMAGE | A photo taken during Tuesday's raid of an Osborn Avenue property shows dozens of marijuana plants in the garage of Edward Dispirito, police say.

COURT DOCUMENT IMAGE | A photo taken during Tuesday’s raid of an Osborn Avenue property shows dozens of marijuana plants in the garage of Edward Dispirito, police say.

As a nor’easter pounded Riverhead with several inches of snow on a cold morning this March, a Suffolk County police detective scanned the houses along Osborn Avenue.

He was on the trail of a drug supplier — a “grow house” manager for a multi-million dollar marijuana operation in town.

In 2012, a grower busted in Suffolk County had turned informant, giving federal law enforcement information about a large-scale operation in Riverhead Town, run by a former trainee of his who split off to grow his own drugs after a dispute over a shortfall in the profit.

Now, as snow fell, the investigator was near the property of the informant’s former protégé.

The detective  — who served on the Internal Revenue Service task force tracking down the operation — saw more than four inches of snow blanketing the entire roofs of all the houses, garages and sheds on the block. All except one.

On a shed behind the garage in the northeast corner of a property just off the main road between Malcolm Way and Mill Road, the snowflakes melted the moment they touched the roof.

That hot-spot, investigators say, is where 70-year-old Edward Dispirito was growing a portion of his roughly $3.8 million worth of marijuana plants as part of an extensive growing operation hidden in his house, garage and sheds.

That story was part of a sworn affidavit filed in federal court this week by a Suffolk County police detective who obtained a warrant to search the houses of Mr. Dispirito and his distributor, 55-year-old James Ford, an ex-convict with an extensive history of drug arrests living in Seaford.

Tuesday’s raids uncovered nearly 1,700 marijuana plants, about 50 grow lamps and transformers, drying tables, harvest records and “multiple years worth of marijuana grow,” and an illegal electrical meter bypass that allowed Mr. Dispirito to steal more than $275,000 in power from the Long Island Power Authority to power his operation, according to the criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District Court of New York.

(Story continues below)

Click right side of column below to advance timeline ↘

Both Mr. Dispirito and Mr. Ford, who investigators say operated under the name “Jimmy the Garbageman,” have been arrested on federal charges of distribution of a controlled substance.

The investigation that led to the pair’s arrest began in October 2009, when members of the Suffolk County Asset Forfeiture Unit — Suffolk Treasury Enhanced Prosecution Program (STEPP) — began looking into a marijuana trafficking ring growing the drugs inside residential homes in the county, according to the complaint.

A confidential source had tipped off police to a trio of homes being used to grow the plants and based on the informant, police believed the ring had been in operation since 2005, according to the complaint.

After nearly three years of scouring through garbage and watching the houses, the investigation yielded fruit.

In April 2012, Federal agents raided three properties in Medford, Middle Island and Manorville, discovering a series of marijuana growing and packaging operations, court documents state.

Inside the locations, agents found 28 pounds of marijuana in various plastic bags, 1,700 marijuana plants, an electric bypass system, and grow lamps, as well as roughly $110,000 in cash hidden in a guitar case in the grower’s home music studio, according to deposition in the case.

A confidential source from those investigations — who admitted to laundering the money from the marijuana sales with the help of his attorney — alerted police to Mr. Dispirito, who ran one of  the grow houses from 2006 to 2008, according to the investigator’s statement.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Police said they found nearly 1,700 marijuana plants worth $3.8 million on this property on Osborn Avenue.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Police said they found nearly 1,700 marijuana plants worth $3.8 million on this property on Osborn Avenue.

Police began tracking Mr. Dispirito, finding a white SUV registered in his named parked at a house on Osborn Avenue in January of this year, an affidavit filed by the investigator states. The investigator in the case later saw a “thin” man exit the house, look around, then go back inside.

The face of that man matched a Department of Motor Vehicles photo of Mr. Dispirito, according to the affidavit.

After seeing snow melting off the roof of Mr. Dispirito’s shed in March, the detective again staked out the alleged grower’s property in September, noting that the shades were drawn on all the house and garage windows. Two sheds had “roof vents to release heat,” the investigator said.

While walking on Osborn Avenue, the investigator smelled the “strong skunky smell” of marijuana blowing south from the house, he said.

Federal agents obtained a subpoena for Long Island Power Authority records of Mr. Dispirito’s power consumption. The subpoena revealed that Mr. Dispirito began paying for power in January 2008, the same time he allegedly left the operations farther west and struck off on his own, according to court documents.

A hidden check of his power consumption later found he was diverting power away from the original electrical meter. The investigator cited in the complaint called this an indicator that Mr. Dispirito was growing a marijuana farm inside.

“Due to the very high electricity consumption of the [grow] lights, air conditioners and other equipment needed to grow marijuana, and its associated high monetary cost, indoor marijuana growers often bypass the electric meter installed by … LIPA with illegal taps,” the detective wrote in his affidavit.

Police next used a thermal imaging camera to reveal several “high heat thermal anomalies” in the house and garage, the affidavit states. The detached garage had both air conditioning and a “oddly placed” roof vent blowing out “extreme heat,” according to the complaint.

On Sept. 25, law enforcement detailed the evidence against Mr. Dispirito in a search warrant request. Six days later, they raided the property.

Court documents show that as police were building the case against Mr. Dispirito, they were also investigating his distributor.

Law enforcement authorities had tapped Mr. Dispirito’s phone records and discovered three phone calls over a one-month period between Mr. Dispirito and Mr. Ford, the Seaford man federal agents suspected was a major customer in the three-home marijuana growing operation busted in 2012, according to an affidavit.

COURT DOCUMENT IMAGE | Police say nearly 1,700 marijuana plants worth roughly $3.8 million were recovered from Mr. Dispirito's home, garage, and sheds.

COURT DOCUMENT IMAGE | Police say nearly 1,700 marijuana plants worth roughly $3.8 million were recovered from Mr. Dispirito’s home, garage, and sheds.

“Jimmy the Garbageman” was no stranger to drugs, court records show. In 1978, he was arrested for first-degree criminal sale of marijuana, sixth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, sixth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana, according to the detective’s affidavit in the criminal complaint filed against him Tuesday.

Between 2004 and 2012, Mr. Ford bought roughly $6 million worth of marijuana from the Medford-Middle Island-Manorville drug ring, the complaint states.

In September, police watched Mr. Ford carry two duffle bags into a Ford van parked in front of his house on Tuscala Street. Two men then got into the van and began driving away as Mr. Ford followed behind on a motorcycle, according to the complaint.

Police soon realized Mr. Ford was watching them, so they broke off the surveillance.

After obtaining a search warrant, federal agents raided Mr. Ford’s home as additional law enforcement swarmed Mr. Dispirito’s house.

Inside Mr. Dispirito’s home, police discovered a similar operation to the one they had busted last year.

In addition to the 1,689 plants, 50 grow lights, dry tables and electrical equipment, police found heat sealer, fertilizer and “many other assorted items that are routinely used in the indoor marijuana growing business.”

Agents also discovered trays of drying marijuana, scales and packaging material and stickers identifying the drugs as a product called “Bad Dog,” court documents show.

Those stickers matched hundreds found at Mr. Ford’s home, as well as the “Bad Dog” vanity plate on his car, the detective said. Police also allegedly found five pounds of packaged marijuana inside his home.

Based on interviews with informants and evidence obtained in the operation, investigators believe Mr. Ford has “distributed well over $9 million worth of marijuana from 2003 to date,” according to the complaint.

Both men were arrested and arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Kathleen Tomlinson in Eastern District Court in Central Islip Tuesday.

Mr. Ford was released on $450,000 bail secured using his house and help from his sister, a court source said.

Mr. Dispirito appeared in U.S. District court Friday and was released under house arrest on $500,000 bond, secured using property from his sisters and a friend.

psquire@timesreview.com

Correction: Mr. Dispirito’s age was listed incorrectly in an earlier version of this article.

09/22/13 11:47pm
09/22/2013 11:47 PM
BING MAPS | The route police say Robert Davis drove as he attempted to leave the scene where he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend.

BING MAPS | The route police say Robert Davis drove as he attempted to leave the scene where he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend.

A homeless man’s attempt to escape the scene where he assaulted his girlfriend in Riverhead Sunday night ended after he drove off the Long Island Expressway and crashed into a cluster of trees, Riverhead Town police said.

Robert Davis, 52, first crashed into another car as he sped onto Route 58 from the Best Yet parking lot, moments after assaulting his girlfriend in front of the grocery store, police said. Driving at a slow rate of speed due to a flat tire on his red 1992 Buick sedan, Mr. Davis made it to the westbound Long Island Expressway, but his car struck a guard rail just west of exit 71 and left the roadway shortly after 7:30 p.m.

Mr. Davis, whose last known address was on Floyd Road in Shirley, was charged with DWI drugs and third-degree assault, police said.

He was airlifted by Suffolk County police helicopter to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he is still being treated for non-life threatening injuries, police said.

His girlfriend, who is also 52 years old and homeless, was treated and released from Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of injuries sustained in the assault, police said.

There were no other injuries in the incident, police said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the accident occurred Saturday night. A police press release listed the wrong date.