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


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.”

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.


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.


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.

07/30/12 1:00pm
07/30/2012 1:00 PM


A former Riverhead school janitor who pleaded guilty to his involvement in a East End drug ring has now pleaded guilty to an unrelated drunk driving charge, a town court official said.

Troy Trent, 42, of Riverhead pleaded guilty in May to driving while intoxicated, stemming from a crash in March 2011, according to Riverhead Town Justice Court.

Mr. Trent, who worked at Pulaski Street School, was involved in a single-vehicle crash on Northville Turnpike and fled the scene on foot early March 6. He was found by police shortly after the accident and was charged with DWI and leaving the scene of an accident.

He was barred from all Riverhead School District grounds after the accident and resigned from his position at Pulaski Street School three months later.

The former janitor was sentenced to three years probation and a $1,000 fine on July 24, according to the courts.

Mr. Trent, also known as “Troy-T,” was arrested last year after investigators with the East End Drug Task Force said he sold powdered and crack cocaine. He, along with another Riverhead man, were charged with second-degree conspiracy.

In March, Mr. Trent pleaded guilty to fourth-degree conspiracy, a lesser charge.

He will serve 3 1/2 years in prison with 18 months of post-release supervision, a more rigorous probation, said District Attorney spokesman Robert Clifford.


02/22/11 2:15pm
02/22/2011 2:15 PM

The lawyer for a Pulaski Street School janitor arrested in connection with an alleged three-man cocaine ring in Riverhead is saying his 41-year-old client was only a bit player in the alleged operation.

“It seems to me that [Troy Trent] was a really low person on the totem pole,” said the attorney, Fred Fisher of Southampton. “He is not what I would call a principal in this alleged drug scheme.”

He said his client, who prosecutors say went by the street name “Troy-T,” is only accused of selling half an ounce of cocaine.

Mr. Trent was arraigned last Wednesday in Suffolk Criminal Court on a second-degree conspiracy charge and was released on $25,000 bail. He was arrested Feb. 4 after an East End Drug Task Force investigation that began in January 2010 and also resulted in the arrests of Joseph “Slick” Gilliam and Ramon “Pamp” Overton.

Prosecutors said Mr. Trent and Mr. Gilliam would supply powdered and crack cocaine to Mr. Overton, whom they described as a street-level dealer. All three men are from Riverhead.

Mr. Trent  has since been barred from all Riverhead School District grounds, school officials said, though he has not been fired.

The investigation did not reveal evidence Mr. Trent sold drugs to students, prosecutors said.

During the investigation, Mr. Overton, 41, allegedly sold crack to an undercover cop four times between January and December 2010, according to a grand jury indictment. A search warrant was executed at Mr. Overton’s Franklin Street home earlier this month, where task force detectives found three 12-gauge pump-action shotguns and a rifle.

Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota explained last week that Mr. Overton cannot legally own firearms due to a previous felony conviction.

Detectives also found two ounces of cocaine, a small quantity of crack and scales, officials said.

Mr. Overton pleaded not guilty last Wednesday to second-degree conspiracy, four counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, six counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, four counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia. He was released on $200,000 bond.

Mr. Trent, 41, pleaded not guilty to his conspiracy charge. Mr. Gilliam, 38, also pleaded not guilty to a second-degree conspiracy charge and was being held on $10,000 cash bail or $25,000 bond. Mr. Gilliam’s attorney, Susan Menu of Riverhead, declined to comment Monday, explaining that she had not yet looked over the grand jury indictment.

“Evidence gathered during the investigation established defendants Trent and Gilliam supplied cocaine to Overton who, as the indictment details, was an active street-level crack dealer in Riverhead,” Mr. Spota, whose office oversees the task force, said in a statement. “Surveillance and other evidence established Overton sold crack at locations on Segal Avenue and in public parking lots on Route 58.”

Mr. Spota did not specify in which parking lots on the commercial thoroughfare alleged drug deals took place.

The arrests were not related to the 23 drug and gang related arrests in the Riverhead area announced earlier this month, a spokesman for Mr. Spota said.