05/16/13 8:33pm
05/16/2013 8:33 PM
WITNESS COURTESY PHOTO | Police storm a work van during Tuesday's drug bust outside Laundry Palace near Route 58 in Riverhead.

COURTESY PHOTO | Police storm a work van during Tuesday’s drug bust outside Laundry Palace on Harrison Avenue near Route 58 in Riverhead.

East End Drug Task Force officers arrested two men on heroin and cocaine charges during a drug bust at a Riverhead laundromat Tuesday evening, police said.

Michael Bale, 47, of Aquebogue, and James Liggon, 56, of Shirley, were pulled from a van and arrested about 6:45 p.m. outside Laundry Palace on Harrison Avenue near Route 58, according to police and witness reports.

A witness to the bust, who asked that he not be identified, described the drama that occurred in the laundromat parking lot.

“I was loading my laundry into the car and an undercover officer came up to the van [the suspects were in] and knocked on the door,” the witness said. “Four cop cars came in and surrounded [the driver] from both sides of the parking lot,”

“They got the guy out of the van asked him, ‘Where the are drugs?’” he continued. “And nothing was said, that I heard.”

Mr. Liggon is being charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance for selling heroin, town police said.

He is also charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after being found with more than 500 milligrams of cocaine; and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance for having heroin, police said.

Mr. Bale is being charged with two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after being found with both heroin and cocaine, according to a report. He was also charged with third-degree burglary in connection with a prior incident for breaking into a barn, forcing a door open and removing tools in March, police said.

The two men were arraigned Wednesday morning and are being held without bail, police said.

Both men are due back in court Monday, police said.

The witness reported it was a Mastercraft Painting and Power Washing van that police targeted. The van is also visible in a short video the witnesses provided to the newspaper that was not published.

Representatives for the company were not available for comment.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s East End Drug Task Force comprises police from across East End police departments and the DA’s office.


01/29/13 11:32am
01/29/2013 11:32 AM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead firefighters made quick work of a fryer fire Tuesday morning.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead firefighters made quick work of a fryer fire Tuesday morning.

Riverhead firefighters doused a fryer fire at a Tanger Outlet fast food restaurant Tuesday morning, fire officials said.

The fire started about 10:30 a.m. at the McDonald’s in the Tanger 2 food court. Riverhead police got the call about an “active fire” at the restaurant and alerted the Riverhead Fire Department.

Firefighters arrived on the scene and quickly put out the fire burning in one of the restaurant’s deep fryers, said second assistant chief Kevin Brooks.

While other fire units returned to headquarters, Riverhead Fire Chief Anthony White and the Riverhead Fire Marshals remained on the scene to investigate what caused the fire.


12/27/12 3:32pm

Riverhead Police received another report of a man trying to lure underage girls into a sedan outside a Riverhead school last Friday, Dec. 21.

The latest incident took place at about 3:13 p.m. outside the Pulaski Street elementary school, according to police.

That’s when an Hispanic man with his hair “spiked up in front” attempted to lure two juvenile females into his car, according to police.

Police said three female students were walking near Pulaski Street and Osborn Avenue and were yelled at by a man who stopped his car as the girls were crossing the street and said, “Hey mamas, come on in my car,” according to police.

The girls ran back to the school gym and the car headed south on Osborn Avenue, police said.

The suspect was driving a newer model silver Nissan sedan with tinted windows and had two other Hispanic men in the car with him, police said.

In addition, a third juvenile female who was in Carlo’s Pizza, not far from the school, reported being “watched closely” by a Hispanic male with haired spiked up in the front, police said.

It was unclear when that happened in relation to the other report.

On Dec. 5, a 17-year-old Riverhead High School student reported being repeatedly asked by an Hispanic man in a black sedan if she needed a ride to school. That incident also took place near Pulaski Street and Osborn Avenue, according to police.

The girl in the Dec. 5 incident repeatedly refused the offer, and flagged down a passing deputy sheriff after the car pulled into a nearby bagel shop, and explained what happened. The deputy sheriff then went looking for the suspect.

The suspect in the Dec. 5 case was described as a “clean cut man with a slight Spanish accent,” who was wearing pajama pants, according to the girl.

It was unclear if the two cases are connected.

No arrests have been reported in either case.


12/07/12 10:00am
12/07/2012 10:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead police speaking to a Hispanic bicyclist on West Main Street in downtown Riverhead in 2009.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead police speaking to a Hispanic bicyclist on West Main Street in downtown Riverhead in 2009.

Lost in much of the recent discussion about how to bridge the divide between the Riverhead Police Department and the town’s Hispanic community is the actual goal. Readers have bemoaned a society that bends over backward to help undocumented immigrants. But let’s be clear: That’s not what police experts and officials are advocating.

The goal is not to cater to minorities but to be a more effective police force. Investigations in Hispanic neighborhoods, experts say, could be greatly aided by officers who can communicate with the people who live and work there.

Imagine a scenario in which a Hispanic woman wishes to report a crime but can’t explain the situation quickly or clearly enough to a responding officer. This scenario is not purely hypothetical. In the town police department today you can see Hispanics struggle to communicate with police, and vice versa. You can also see officers frustrated by a language barrier that prevents them from doing the best job they can and want to do.

Experts and officials say the town would be better served, and safer, if such lines of communication could be opened. Residents could communicate effectively with officers to alert them to dangerous people in the community or tip them off to potential crimes before they happen. And officers would have the added opportunity to develop sources within those communities that could prove invaluable in catching criminals.


Current popular police theory holds that departments should reflect their community. Nowhere is this better seen than in the New York Police Department, which includes hundreds of minority officers — more than half the force now — who are able to connect and forge relationships with minority neighborhoods.

According to 2010 census data, nearly 14 percent of Riverhead town is Hispanic, a major jump of more than 77 percent from 10 years earlier. And that data does not include those who didn’t volunteer information for the census. There is no way of knowing how many of those Hispanic residents speak only Spanish, but the Hispanic population is growing and slowly integrating.

Our immigrant population boom is just beginning, and that integration won’t happen overnight. But Riverhead’s public schools already include a higher percentage of minorities than is found in the general population, signifying that population shift. There are dozens of English as a Second Language classes in our public schools, libraries and churches, with hundreds of students.

Yet some people seem convinced that, unlike immigrants past, from Germans and Irish to Italians and Poles, this generation of immigrants refuses to assimilate and will not learn English. The critics fail to see that real integration takes time and that, until it does happen, it’s dangerous to ignore a growing population.

Having people who are able to connect with the Hispanic population, experts say, opens up a wealth of knowledge for police officers to pull from. It’s these bonds between diverse areas and police officers that make the whole community safer, not just minority neighborhoods.

No one — not experts or town officials or police administrators — is suggesting the town hire less competent officers. The latest police recruits hired Tuesday are, by all accounts, upstanding and exemplary.

But just as some value a university cop’s experience on the job, others value language skills.

That’s one reason the Suffolk County Police and police departments across the country are now seeking more Spanish-speaking officers. Fluency in a language spoken by an underserved population is a valuable skill, just like a war hero’s skills acquired in battle, and not in any way a crutch.

SPECIAL REPORT, FEB 10: In diverse area, Riverhead police force remains overwhelmingly white

08/15/12 3:58pm
08/15/2012 3:58 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Two people were hospitalized after a rollover accident on Manor Road in Calverton Wednesday afternoon.

A rollover accident in Calverton sent two men to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries Wednesday afternoon.

The two men were driving a black Nissan Sentra SR sedan southbound on Manor Road about 2:30 p.m. when the car flipped and came to rest on its side, police at the scene said.

Police said they believe wet roads may have played a part in the accident.

Riverhead firefighters and ambulance personnel were called to scene to treat the victims. Firefighters had to cut off the roof of the vehicle to free the passenger of the sedan, who was unable to escape from the wreck on his own.

The two victims were taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Officials briefly closed Manor Road between Route 25 and Middle Road. The road was reopened about 3 p.m. as towing crews removed the wreckage.


08/09/12 9:00am
08/09/2012 9:00 AM

Two unknown men and an unknown woman reportedly stole seven lawn mowers from a Riverhead store early Friday morning, police said.

The three suspects allegedly used a tan-colored van to take the equipment from The Home Depot store on Route 58, police said.

Detectives are investigating the incident.

• Jacqueline Burck, 23, of Riverhead was arrested July 29 after damaging a vehicle in Center Moriches, Suffolk County police said. Ms. Burck drove a 2006 Suzuki into another vehicle parked in a driveway located on Wading River Road sometime overnight between July 6 to July 7, officials said. She was charged with leaving the scene of property damage, police said.

• Juan Mateo, 40, of Riverhead was arrested on forcible touching, harassment and resisting arrest charges Sunday, police said. He was processed and held for arraignment. No details were available.

• Nicholas Dolce, 19, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after being stopped near a 7-Eleven convenience store on Route 58, police said.  He was processed and held for arraignment.

• Four people driving dirt bikes and quads damaged a Riverhead sod farm July 31, police said. The suspects rode their bikes and quads across the Deleo Sod Farm on Tuthills Lane, according to a police report. No arrests were made.

• Nearly $25,000 in jewelry and money was stolen from a Riverhead home Friday, police said. The unknown person entered the Osborne Avenue home through the northwest door and stole jewelry and cash worth $24,700.

Those who are named in police reports have not been convicted of any crime or violation. The charges against them may later be reduced or withdrawn, or they may be found innocent.

08/08/12 12:30pm
08/08/2012 12:30 PM

The Riverhead Town Board on Thursday authorized the settlement of a 1996 lawsuit accusing Riverhead police of false arrest.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court by Anthony Wayne Smith of Riverhead, names the town along with two police officers, James Lydon and Darren Fulton, as defendants.

The lawsuit states that on Feb. 1, 1995, Mr. Smith was arrested at a bus stop on West Main Street and Griffing Avenue for “asserting his right to freedom of speech” and goes on to accuse the town police of unreasonable search and seizure, false arrest and imprisonment, unreasonable and excessive force and remanding Mr. Smith for psychiatric tests without cause.

The suit also claims Town Justice Court officials refused to set a racially fair cross section to sit on Mr. Smith’s jury.

In the suit, Mr. Smith was seeking $100,000 in punitive damages and $100,000 in compensatory damages on each of 12 counts, which would total $2.4 million.

Although the board voted to approve the settlement offer, board members interviewed after the meeting either didn’t know the amount of the settlement or were unsure if the figure could be released.

Councilman Jim Wooten said the settlement was a monetary one and that it was “a substantial amount.”


08/06/12 8:05am
08/06/2012 8:05 AM

A Riverhead man was arrested shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday night after the owner of the multi-family dwelling he lives in on Osborn Avenue reported him for stealing a pocketbook and cash, Riverhead Town Police said.

Cristobal Cruz, 44, was later found hiding in the rear of the residence by a responding K9 unit. He was in possession of the missing items when he was located, police said.

Mr. Cruz was charged with second-degree burglary and held overnight for a Monday morning arraignment.