08/27/13 10:00pm
08/27/2013 10:00 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police detectives outside the Koppert Cress greenhouse on Horton Avenue Tuesday afternoon.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police detectives outside the Koppert Cress greenhouse on Horton Avenue Tuesday afternoon.

A Laurel man was busted for growing marijuana at a Riverhead greenhouse Tuesday afternoon after Riverhead Town police and the East End Drug Task Force found more than 50 marijuana plants on the property, according to a Riverhead police statement.

Police searched the Koppert Cress greenhouse on the corner of Sound Avenue and Horton Avenue with a warrant and discovered 57 plants, as well as a box truck used to transport the plants, according to the statement. Some of the plants were discovered on the property, while others were found in the truck, police said.

All of the plants were in a “grown phase” and had not yet been harvested, police said.

Anton Van De Wetering, 43, of Laurel was arrested and charged with two counts of Unlicensed Growing of Canabis, a class “A” misdemeanor, according to the statement. Police said additional charges will be filed once the marijuana plants are analyzed and weighed by the Suffolk County Crime Lab.

Mr. Van de Wetering is the son of 82-year-old Peter Van de Wetering, who founded Van de Wetering Greenhouses in 1958. The greenhouses have produced the tulips that line Park Avenue for years, and the company was featured  in an April New York Times article.

The younger Van de Wetering, who was the longtime manager of Van de Wetering Greenhouses, is “no longer affiliated in any way with Van de Wetering Greenhouses,” said a company representative.

Anton Van de Wetering left the company over a year ago, the spokesman said.

While at the scene Tuesday afternoon, police Lt. David Lessard said authorities believed contraband was “brought onto the property.” Police later said the East End Drug Task Force received a tip from a confidential informant about the marijuana.

A man who answered the phone listed for the Koppert Cress company said he had “no idea what was going on” at the Sound Avenue greenhouse. Koppert Cress bought the property searched by police from the Talmage family in 2012.

The East End Drug Task Force is headed by the district attorney’s office and comprises law enforcement personnel from across the county’s five East End towns.

A Suffolk County police helicopter was called in to assist during the investigation and Riverhead police were seen walking through the parking lot of the greenhouse, with some patrol cars leaving and returning to the scene.


07/22/13 8:00am
07/22/2013 8:00 AM

A Mattituck pharmacist was arrested Friday after he was caught stealing Hydrocone pills from the Rite Aid store where he was employed, Southold Town Police said in a press release issued Monday morning.

An investigation revealed Paul Rinaldi, 57, of Miller Place was using the pills to self medicate over the course of a six-month period, police said. He was reported to police by Rite Aid’s asset protection division, police said.

He was transported to police headquarters and processed Friday, and has since been released on bail.

07/21/13 6:24am
07/21/2013 6:24 AM

Riverhead Police

Five drivers were arrested for driving drunk in Riverhead Saturday and one more was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, according to a press release from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s East End DWI Task Force.

The task force effort was conducted by officers from the Riverhead, Westhampton Beach and Quogue Village police departments, who seized two vehicles in the operation.

Police said the following East End residents were arrested and charged with DWI:

Nelson Avelar, 33, of Riverhead, who was also charged with an interlock device violation and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Tranquilino Chamale, 35, of Aquebogue

Rogelio Boch, 27, of Riverhead

Richard Kruedelbach, 53, of Southampton

Otto Rac-Subuyuj, 29, of Water Mill

Shamir Euceda, 23, of Hampton Bays was the driver charged with DWAI Drugs.

05/02/13 5:15pm
05/02/2013 5:15 PM
Riverhead Justice Court drugs

CARRIE MILLER FILE PHOTOS | James Leggon Jr. and Victoria Reyes being led into Riverhead court in March.

A Riverhead couple arrested in a March drug raid was back in court Thursday afternoon, now facing a second round of drug and child endangerment charges, police said.

James Leggon Jr., 39, and Victoria Reyes, 26, both of Oakland Drive North, were arrested Thursday morning after members of the DA’s East End Drug Task Force and Riverhead Town police again executed a search warrant at their home, authorities said.

Mr. Leggon and Ms. Reyes were arraigned at Southampton Town Justice Court about 3 p.m., because Riverhead court proceedings were not being held this week, police said. They were each being charged with felony criminal nuisance and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance after police found crack cocaine on the premises, prosecutors said.

The couple allegedly confessed to selling crack cocaine, Justice Barbara Wilson said in court.

“She says it’s his; he says it’s hers,” Justice Wilson said.

The couple is also facing child endangerment charges, as Mr. Leggon’s 13-year-old child was home at the time, prosecutors said in court.

Their Oakland Drive North home, in which the two drug suspects have been living for about eight years, was also raided by East End Task Force members March 7.

Following that raid, the couple lost temporary custody of their children, prosecutors said in court.

Prosecutors said Mr. Leggon has one prior felony conviction and three prior misdemeanor convictions.

Mr. Leggon’s mother has temporary custody of the couple’s three small children, Mr. Leggon said in court.

In March, they were each charged three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, as their 1- and 2-year-old girls and 4-year-old boy were found to be living in unsanitary conditions in the house at the time, prosecutors said in court back in March.

“You’ve already lost your children,” Justice Wilson said to Ms. Reyes in court today. “I couldn’t imagine anything more painful than losing my child.”

Mr. Leggon and Ms. Reyes were also charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of marijuana in the March raid, according to a report.

Mr. Leggon  is being held on $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash or credit.

Ms. Reyes is being held on $50,000 bail.

The couple is due back in court Wednesday, May 8.


04/24/13 10:00am
04/24/2013 10:00 AM

The Peconic Independent Pharmacy Association is hosting its annual prescription drug disposal program today, accepting pharmaceuticals for disposal at several North Fork pharmacies.

PIPA has been hosting the event, known as The Great Peconic Takeback, annually since 2010 to promote pharmaceutical safety in the home and proper disposal, keeping pharmaceuticals out of the ground water.

Environmentalists have voiced concern over pharmaceuticals entering groundwater, even in trace amounts, impacting the safety of humans and wildlife.

Pharmaceuticals should be in their original, labeled containers, with the patient’s name blacked out with permanent marker. The medications do not have to have been purchased at the participating pharmacies, and no personal identification is required. All types of medications will be accepted.

Pharmaceuticals and medications can be dropped off for disposal at any of the following locations between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., free of charge.

Barth’s Drug Store in Riverhead
32 East Main Street

Martin Drugs in Riverhead
849 Old Country Road

Cutchogue Pharmacy
28195 Main Road

Southold Pharmacy
53895 Main Road

The Riverhead Police Department is also hosting a drug disposal event on Saturday, April 27, in honor of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Police, partnered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, will be accepting medications from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Riverhead Police Department, located at 210 Howell Avenue.

“All citizens are encouraged to check their medications and turn in expired or unwanted drugs. Doing so only ensures the safety of you and your family. It also protects the environment from the harmful effects of improper disposal,” Riverhead Police said in a release.

04/08/13 12:45pm
04/08/2013 12:45 PM
• A Flanders man was arrested on drugs and littering charges late Saturday after he dropped a plastic baggie filled with a PCP-laced cigarette on the ground when he spotted a police officer nearby, Southampton police said.
Jason Scott, 24, was headed northbound along Flanders Road in the southbound lane about 11:40 p.m. when he saw a patrolling officer and tried to dispose of the clear baggie, police said. The officer stopped Mr. Scott and picked up the baggie, according to a police report.
The baggie had a cigarette laced with PCP inside, police said. The officer searched Mr. Scott and found marijuana in his left pants pocket, according to the report.
Mr. Scott was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of marijuana and littering, police said. He was taken to police headquarters to be processed.
• Two Calverton teenagers were arrested early Sunday after they were caught smoking marijuana cigarettes at a Flanders beach, police said.
The teens were spotted smoking marijuana at the beach at the end of Long Neck Boulevard about 1:25 a.m., police said. The officer also found marijuana in of their right pants pocket, police said.
Both teens were charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of marijuana, police said.
• A Riverhead man was arrested for drunken driving in Flanders Friday night, police said.
Nelson Hernandez, 21, was seen driving in and out of his lane on Flanders Road and failing to signal after he turned onto Glider Avenue about 8 p.m., police said. An officer stopped Mr. Hernandez and took him to police headquarters, where he “performed poorly” on sobriety tests and refused to take a breath test, according to a police report. 
He was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and two traffic violations, police said.       
03/28/13 12:30pm
03/28/2013 12:30 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO |  Nicholas Latasso (left) and Bert Roner at a Thursday morning arraignment.

Two Riverhead Town residents were arraigned on trespassing, stolen property and drug charges Thursday morning after they were caught with stolen copper telephone cables from Orient Point County Park in Orient Wednesday afternoon, Southold Town police said.

Bert Roner, 35, of Flanders and Nicholas Latasso, 33, of Riverhead pleaded not guilty to several misdemeanor charges stemming from their arrest.

The men were caught after cops received a tip from Plum Island security about 4 p.m. Wednesday, police said.

Police stopped Mr. Roner as he was driving a black 2004 Ford Suburban in the parking lot of the Cross Island Ferry about 4 p.m. while investigating a possible larceny, according to a criminal complaint filed in Southold Town Justice Court.

Officers noticed Mr. Roner’s eyes were “red and glassy” and he failed roadside sobriety tests at the scene, according to the complaint.

Police discovered Mr. Roner and his passenger, Mr. Latasso, had “several lengths of plastic encased copper telephone feeder cable” belonging to Verizon, according to the complaint. Mr. Latasso also had a small white envelope containing a white powdery substance that tested positive for heroin, a police officer reported.

The men admitted they had trespassed at the Orient Point County Park, according to a criminal complaint.

Both Mr. Roner and Mr. Latasso were charged with third-degree criminal trespassing and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, court officials said.

Mr. Roner was also charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs while Mr. Latasso faces a seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance charge.

Mr. Roner had previously been arrested for stealing copper from a business in Mattituck in July 2010, according to a published report. He served 90 days in jail in connection with that incident, records show.

He was then arrested last March after he was found in possession of a controlled substance during a probation visit, according to a News-Review report.

Bail for both men was set at $1,500 cash or $7,500 bond. They are due back in Southold court next Friday.


02/24/13 5:44pm

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A police car at the scene of the May 30, 1993 shooting incident that led to the death of Alvin McElroy Jr.

Nearly 20 years after the shooting incident that led to the death of a Persian Gulf veteran, one of two men convicted in his killing could be headed back to prison.

David Brown, 37, of Flanders was arrested on drug charges Saturday night following a traffic stop on East Main Street, Riverhead Town Police said. The bust comes less than six months after he was paroled on Sept. 14, following 17 years in prison for killing Alvin Charles McElroy Jr., state parole records show.

Alvin Charles McElroy Jr.

Mr. Brown had been living in Riverhead before he was convicted of manslaughter in connection with Mr. McElroy’s death in May 1995 and sentenced to a minimum of nine years in prison. He was later convicted of attempted promotion of prison contraband and was not released until last September, state records show. His release came nine years after he was first elegible for parole, but 11 years before his maximum sentence of 28 years was to expire.

Mr. Brown’s cousin, Edward Jackson of Flanders, who was 19 years old at the time of the shooting, was also convicted of manslaughter in connection with Mr. McElroy’s death and was released from prison in 2010 after serving 15 years, state parole records show.

The shooting incident occurred after a group of as many as 10 young men, including Mr. Brown and Mr. Jackson, confronted Mr. McElroy on Phillips Street near Route 25 about 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 30, 1993, according to previously published reports in the News-Review and Newsday. Several shots were fired and Mr. McElroy was struck four times in the head and legs. It was the third shooting reported in Riverhead that day, after two other incidents occurred earlier that morning.

Mr. McElroy, a 22-year-old father of three, spent the last eight months of his life in a coma before dying at Hilltop Manor Rehabilitation Center in Niskanyuna, N.Y. on Feb. 1, 1994, according to a story published in the News-Review at the time of his death. He was the son of Rev. A. Charles McElroy Sr. of Friendship Baptist Church in Riverhead, who presided over his funeral.

The death of a preacher’s son sent shockwaves through Riverhead Town, Newsday reported at the time.

Rev. McElroy said during the funeral that his son had brushes with the law and had disputes with the alleged gunmen in the weeks leading up to the shooting, according to a Newsday report.

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Alvin McElroy Jr.’s grave at Calverton National Cemetery. One of the men convicted in his killing was arrested again Sunday on drug charges.

“He was offered everything, a good home, a good environment and education,” Rev. McElroy said of his son. “Raising a child today is a high risk. He encountered the demonic forces of his time.”

Mr. Brown was a suspect in the shooting soon after police began their investigation, but he was not located until he attempted to run from the scene of a traffic stop in September 1993. After a foot pursuit, Mr. Brown, who was wanted on a warrant issued by Suffolk County Police, was detained by Riverhead police officer James Wooten, according to a story published in the News-Review at the time of his arrest.

Mr. Wooten, now a town councilman, said that after he saw Mr. Brown, who was 18 at the time of his arrest, run up Fifth Street, he knew exactly where he was headed.

“I took off running to St. John’s [Church] and he ran right into my arms,” Mr. Wooten recalled in an interview Sunday.

“The guy did 17 years as a young man and he had a chance to turn his life around. It’s crazy,” he said. ”I’m glad he’s off the street though. He spent most of his adult life in jail and he didn’t learn a thing from the sound of it.”

Mr. Brown was charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal possession of marijuana, police said following his 2 a.m. arrest Sunday. Also charged in the incident was 25-year-old Michael Bambrick of Riverhead.

The two men were in possession of more than four ounces of cocaine, more than eight ounces of marijuana, 10 packets of PCP and a digital scale, according to a report on riverheadlocal.com, which covered the arraignment Sunday morning.