02/26/13 2:00pm
02/26/2013 2:00 PM

A 41-year-old man was arrested in Riverhead last week after East End Drug Task Force members conducted an early morning raid at a Segal Avenue residence, authorities said.

Michael James was arrested about 6 a.m. Friday at 70 Segal Avenue on six charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance, three of which are felony charges, Riverhead Town police said.

He was charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all felony charges, police said.

He was also charged with three counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanors, along with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Mr. Jones is being held without bail and is due back in Riverhead Justice Court Wednesday.

No other details on the arrest were immediately available from police.

The East End Drug Task Force was formed in 1988 and uses undercover officers from town and village police departments from Suffolk five East End towns, along with officers from the state, county, and sheriff departments, to investigate narcotics cases.


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12/23/12 8:00am
12/23/2012 8:00 AM
Thomas Counihan, Thomas Spota, Wading River, East End Drug

EAST END DRUG TASK FORCE PHOTO | Drugs police say they recovered from Thomas Counihan’s bedroom after a standoff with him on Sept. 25.

Wading River is not the type of place you associate with police-involved gunfire, large stashes of pills and heroin and guys with rap sheets going back 30 years.

THOMAS COUNIHAN

But all these things came together there on the night of Sept. 25.

Thomas Counihan, a 60-year-old with 17 prior arrests and four felony convictions, was being visited at his Wading River-Manor Road home that night by two police officers after he had failed to show up for a probation appointment and drug test required as a condition of a prior drug possession arrest.

The officers then discovered that he had illegal drugs in the home and, at one point, Mr. Counihan allegedly grabbed a loaded .45 caliber pistol from his bed, pointing it first at his own face and chest and then turning it toward the two officers, authorities have said.

One of the officers then fired a shot at Mr. Counihan, which missed, but prompted him to drop to the floor, according to police, who said the officers then subdued Mr. Counihan and seized the gun.

Inside the room, investigators allegedly found and seized 250 packets of heroin, about two ounces of cocaine, a large bag of marijuana, a syringe and nine unlabeled bottles containing a variety of pills, photos of which were provided to the media by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Police from various departments were camped outside Mr. Counihan’s house for more than nine hours after the gunfire. Mr. Counihan was taken to the psychiatric unit of Stony Brook University Hospital and later transferred to the psychiatric ward at Brunswick Hospital in Amityville.

“We are relieved that the two East End Drug Task Force officers were not injured during the standoff with this dangerous, violent felon,” Mr. Spota said a day after the incident. “It is clear the police officer’s discharge of his weapon, given the circumstances, was justified.”

It wasn’t until early December that police formally arrested Mr. Counihan, charging him with third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of controlled substance; third-degree criminal possession of marijuana; menacing a police officer; second-, third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon; second-degree criminal use of a firearm; second-degree reckless endangerment; criminal possession of hypodermic instrument; and criminal use of drug paraphernalia.

He remains behind bars in lieu of $500,000 bail or $1 million bond and is due back in Suffolk County criminal court Jan. 10.

READ MORE ABOUT THE THOMAS COUNIHAN ARREST

12/04/12 4:48pm
12/04/2012 4:48 PM
Thomas Counihan, East End Drug Task Force, Suffolk DA

THOMAS COUNIHAN

The Wading River man who allegedly pulled a gun on cops in September before one of the officers fired a shot and missed was arrested Monday after more than two months in a psychiatric ward, police said.

Thomas Counihan, 60, had been in psychiatric care at Brunswick Hospital in Amityville since the Sept. 25 incident at his Wading River-Manor Road home, police said.

He was released Monday and transported to Riverhead police headquarters where he was booked on over a dozen drugs and weapons charges, officials said.

An ex-convict with a criminal history dating back almost 30 years, Mr. Counihan was initially visited by police Sept. 25 after failing to show up for a probation appointment and drug test, authorities said.

Mr. Counihan acted strangely when police arrived, and a few minutes later, when asked about drugs in the house, he pulled a loaded Colt .45 from his bed.

One of the two officers fired the shot after Mr. Counihan began to point the weapon away from himself — and toward the officers, police said. The shot missed, but Mr. Counihan hit the floor and was subdued by the officers, who took his gun, authorities said.

Police recovered heroin, cocaine, marijuana and pain pills from the house, officials said.

District attorney spokesman Robert Clifford said Mr. Counihan told authorities that some of the drugs obtained by police were his.

“The defendant admitted on the record during arraignment that the heroin … was for his personal use,” Mr. Clifford said.

Mr. Counihan is being held at Suffolk County jail without bail.

The case will likely be taken up by a grand jury in the coming weeks, Mr. Clifford said.

He’s facing charges of third-degree criminal possession of controlled substance, fourth-degree criminal possession of controlled substance, third-degree criminal possession of marijuana, menacing a police officer, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree criminal use of a firearm, second-degree reckless endangerment, criminal possession of hypodermic instrument and criminal use of drug paraphernalia, officials said.

11/07/12 10:21am
11/07/2012 10:21 AM

A 45-year-old Riverside Avenue man was busted on a slew of drug charges after trying to swallow crack cocaine during a bust by members of the East End Drug Task Force, police said.

Spencer Hobson of Vail Avenue “was observed conducting a drug transaction and attempted to swallow the drugs when task force officers approached him,” according to a press release issued Wednesday.

Police recovered the alleged drugs, which they said was crack cocaine, and later recovered more crack cocaine, powder cocaine, marijuana and heroin.

Officers also located and seized cash, packaging materials and scales, police said.

It was not clear in the release where the bust occurred, though a police spokeswoman was able to say the alleged transaction happened about 12:30 p.m. Friday.

Mr. Hobson is facing three felony charges and one misdemeanor for criminal possession of a controlled substance, and two misdemeanor counts of criminal use of a drug paraphernalia.

He was also charged with second-degree conspiracy as part of a drug investigation that has since conclusion.

The East End Drug Task Force is a overseen by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office and comprises town and village police from the county’s five eastern towns, Suffolk County police and the sheriff’s office, as well as DA investigators.

10/04/12 12:00pm
10/04/2012 12:00 PM
Thomas Counihan, East End Drug Task Force, Suffolk DA

THOMAS COUNIHAN

Riverhead police last week were twice called back to a Wading River property where authorities say a 60-year-old man had pulled a gun on two East End Drug Task Force officers last Tuesday, Sept. 25, before one of the officers fired a shot and missed.

Police arrived Friday for a domestic dispute and again Saturday in response to a report of guns being seen on the property, although the guns turned out to be BB guns. No charges were filed in either of the cases.

Last Tuesday, an occupant of the Wading River-Manor Road home, Thomas Counihan, allegedly pulled a gun on officers during a probation visit before the shot was fired. He was then also found to be in possession of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and pills, according to the DA’s office. He was taken to Stony Brook Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

Though District Attorney Thomas Spota said Mr. Counihan would face drugs and weapons charges upon his release, a DA spokesman said Wednesday that Mr. Counihan had not yet been charged. He’s since been transferred to Brunswick Hospital in Amityville.

On Friday afternoon, three days after the original incident, Riverhead police officers responded to the site when a dispute erupted involving Mr. Counihan’s daughter, Samantha, and her cousin, Mercedes Counihan, according to a police report.

The ranch-style home is owned by 85-year-old Josephine Counihan of Southampton, Thomas Counihan’s mother and grandmother of Mercedes and Samantha.

Mercedes Counihan told police she came to the house because her grandmother wanted her to make sure the home was in order, and she entered the home by breaking a window, and then got into a verbal dispute with Samantha, the report reads. Mercedes Counihan told police her grandmother said no one should be living in the home.

Samantha Counihan told police that she and her boyfriend, Charles Burrows, have lived there, along with Thomas Counihan, a long time.

The officer told them that the owner of the house would have to take action to evict Samantha, and a domestic incident report was filed, according to the report. Samantha Counihan had been present at the house late Tuesday and again on Wednesday and declined to comment to a News-Review reporter. Her cousin could not be reached for comment this week.

Then on Saturday afternoon, police were called to the property following a report that guns were being loaded into a trailer there. The responding officer was told by Samantha Counihan that the she had put BB-guns into the trailer and police could enter the trailer and check, a report reads. Police said two handgun-style BB guns and two long gun-style BB guns were found.

Police from several agencies had been at the house for about nine hours Sept. 25, and into the early morning hours of Sept. 26.

Mr. Spota, whose office oversees the drug task force, said in a statement after the shooting incident that “it is clear the police officer’s discharge of his weapon, given the circumstance, was justified.”
tgannon@timesreview.com

08/10/12 8:00am
08/10/2012 8:00 AM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A collection of the drugs, cash, and tools seized by the East End Drug Task Force during a seven-month investigation.

Two men charged as the leaders of a massive cocaine smuggling ring that carried more than three kilos of drugs a week on average to the East End and the man accused of being the ring’s courier have pleaded not guilty, court records show.

Robert Love, 58, of Riverhead, Miguel Matos, 45, and Radames “Ray” Melendez, 22, both of the Bronx all pleaded not guilty to the slew of drug charges against them, according to online records.

Mr. Love, a parolee who was previously convicted of sale and possession of cocaine and released from prison December 2009, was held at the Suffolk County jail on $1 million bond or $500,000 cash bail. Mr. Matos, who officials said ferried drugs from the Bronx to Mr. Love to sell across the East End, was held on $2 million bond or $1 million cash bail.

Mr. Melendez was held on $200,000 bond or $100,000 cash bail.

Robert Love

Mr. Love and Mr. Matos are being charged under the state’s three-year-old “kingpin statute,” which carries heavier sentences for major distributors of illegal drugs.

The two men face charges of operating as a major trafficker as a profiteer from sale, operating as a major trafficker as a profiteer from possession, first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance — all class A1 felonies that carry top sentences of life imprisonment. They also face a charge of second-degree conspiracy, a class B felony.

Mr. Matos was additionally charged with operating as a major trafficker as director of a controlled substance operation, a class A1 felony.

Mr. Melendez is facing charges of first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and first-degree conspiracy.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said the ring used hidden compartments in vehicles to transport the drugs.

Mr. Love received about a kilo of cocaine, worth about $37,000, every other day, officials said. He would then break the kilos into gram-sized chunks and sell them in Greenport, Riverhead, Flanders and Southampton for $50 and $60 a gram.

Mr. Spota said hundreds got cocaine from the ring, adding that though authorities were unsure where the drugs came from, a “significant amount” of money was being transferred to the Dominican Republic as part of the cocaine ring.

Detectives retrieved thousands in cash, drugs and tools used to compress the cocaine into kilos for sale, Mr. Spota added.

The men were arrested June 13 by Riverhead Town police and were held in custody awaiting grand jury indictment, which was handed up July 26, according to court records. Mr. Love was arrested at his home in Riverhead; he allegedly tried to flee police and threw a kilo of cocaine over a fence during the arrest.

Mr. Love is due back in court on Aug. 17, while Mr. Matos and Mr. Melendez are scheduled to appear this Friday, according to court records.

psquire@timesreview.com

08/06/12 2:03pm
08/06/2012 2:03 PM

A Riverside man has been arrested for selling crack cocaine during what the East End Drug Task Force and Southampton Town police described as a months-long investigation, officials said.

Vail Avenue resident Moses Bullock, 39, was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a felony, according to a police report.

Mr. Bullock was nabbed after the investigation into “narcotics activity in the Flanders and Riverside areas” revealed he had sold crack cocaine in the area on multiple dates, police said.

He was processed at Southampton Town Headquarters, arraigned and is being held at Suffolk County Jail.

The arrest came one day after Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announced three arrests in a “multi-million dollar” cocaine-trafficking ring that sent three to four kilos of cocaine a week from the Bronx to Riverhead.

It was not immediately clear if Mr. Bullock’s arrest was related to the previous East End Drug Task Force bust.

psquire@timesreview.com

07/31/12 7:47am
07/31/2012 7:47 AM

A drug-smuggling ring, which allegedly ferried up to three kilos of cocaine a week using hidden compartments in vehicles traveling from New York City to Riverhead, has been busted by the East End Drug Task Force, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Robert Love, 58, of Riverhead and Miguel Matos, 45, of the Bronx were the “ringleaders” of the operation, said District Attorney spokesman Robert Clifford.

Mr. Matos’ son-in-law, Radames “Ray” Melendez, 22, also of the Bronx, allegedly served as the courier in the ring and ferried drugs from New York in to Mr. Love in Riverhead before returning to New York City to be paid, according to the statement.

During an East End Drugs Task Force investigation which began last November, detectives seized 13 cars and discovered hidden traps used to hide powdered cocaine in three of the vehicles, officials said. The electronic traps were opened by pressing hazard light, air conditioning, or windshield wiper buttons in a sequence, according to the statement.

The three defendants will be arraigned in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverside Tuesday.

The men were arrested on June 13 by Riverhead Town Police and held in custody awaiting a Grand Jury indictment, which was handed up on July 26, according to court records.

Mr. Love and Mr. Matos are facing charges of second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, first-degree conspiracy, and operating a drug ring, all of which are felonies, which can carry top sentences of life in jail, or class B felonies, which carry top sentences of up to 25 years in jail.

Mr. Melendez is facing charges of first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and first-degree conspiracy, and also could face life in jail.

More details, including photos of the car’s secret compartments and cocaine and packaging material seized by the East End Drugs Task Force will be revealed at a press conference hosted by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota Tuesday morning.

The East End Drug Task Force was formed in 1988 and uses undercover officers from surrounding town and village police departments, along with officers from the state, county, and sheriff departments, to investigate narcotics on the East End.