01/20/15 4:00pm
01/20/2015 4:00 PM
Melanie Stafford speaks at a press conference in Hauppauge Tuesday with Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota (far right), state Senator John Flanagan (second from right) and family members of hit-and-run victims. Ms. Stafford's uncle was killed in 2012 while crossing the street in downtown Riverhead. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Melanie Stafford speaks at a press conference in Hauppauge Tuesday with Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota (far right), state Senator John Flanagan (second from right) and family members of hit-and-run victims. Ms. Stafford’s uncle was killed in 2012 while crossing the street in downtown Riverhead. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and the families of hit-and-run victims are calling on state lawmakers to increase penalties for those convicted of fleeing the scene of a fatal accident.

Mr. Spota and members of several families, including a relative of Scott Wayte — the Brookhaven man who was struck and killed in 2012 while crossing East Main Street in downtown Riverhead — held a press conference in Hauppauge Tuesday, saying they want the state to increase the maxiumn sentence for fatal hit-and-run crimes from seven years to 15 years in prison.  (more…)

11/21/14 10:00am
11/21/2014 10:00 AM
(File photo by Jennifer Gustavson)

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson, file)

Police chiefs and other top brass from agencies across the East End met this week to share information with one another on local gang activities during a meeting called by the Suffolk County District Attorney.

The three-hour meeting in Riverside Wednesday follows last month’s gang shooting in a residential area of Southold, after which now five alleged members of MS-13 attacked two men from a rival gang with guns and a machete.

That incident, followed by much local and regional media coverage, has brought attention to the growing problem of gangs on the East End. (more…)

04/02/14 2:31pm
04/02/2014 2:31 PM
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota holds up a bag of heroin seized during a drug raid that busted an alleged heroin network. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota holds up a bag of heroin seized during a drug raid that busted an alleged heroin network during a press conference Wednesday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A Riverhead woman is one of 14 people accused of dealing heroin in a network of drug rings that pumped about $3.6 million worth of drugs into Suffolk County, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

“This is probably one of the most prolific operations [we] have seen in many, many a year,” Mr. Spota said at a press conference Wednesday morning. (more…)

04/01/14 11:20pm
04/01/2014 11:20 PM
(Credit: Suffolk

A Holtsville couple allegedly sold these heroin packets stamped “HIGH OCTANE” to Riverhead drug dealers. (Credit: The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office)

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota is expected to hold a press conference Wednesday announcing the indictment of a Holtsville couple accused of supplying heroin stamped with the words “HIGH OCTANE” to Riverhead drug dealers, according to a press release.

(more…)

02/19/14 2:15pm
02/19/2014 2:15 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | District attorney Thomas Spota points to the suspects arrested in a heroin trafficking ring at a press conference Wednesday.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | District attorney Thomas Spota points to the suspects arrested in a heroin trafficking ring at a press conference Wednesday.

A collaboration between police forces has broken up a massive heroin ring that ferried a “pure, strong and very sought-after” brand of the drug to Riverhead from East Harlem, authorities said.  (more…)

02/18/14 10:19pm
02/18/2014 10:19 PM
(File photo by Jennifer Gustavson)

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. (File photo by Jennifer Gustavson)

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota is expected to announce details tomorrow about an East End Drug Task Force bust involving five Riverhead men dealing heroin stamped with the word “Hollywood,” according to a press release.

(more…)

04/18/13 7:02am
04/18/2013 7:02 AM
Robert Love (inset) has pleaded guilty to

DA PHOTO | Robert Love (inset) has pleaded guilty to charges related to a drug trafficking ring.

The Riverhead ex-con who helped run a sophisticated cocaine ring between New York City and Riverhead has pleaded guilty to felony drug and conspiracy charges for his role in the drug-smuggling operation, according to court records.

Robert Love, 59, copped to second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a class A felony, and third-degree conspiracy, a class D felony, during a Wednesday court appearance, records show.

Mr. Love and his alleged co-conspirators — identified by authorities as Miguel Matos, 45, and Radames “Ray” Melendez, 22, both of the Bronx — ferried more than three kilos of drugs a week on average to the East End using hidden compartments in three vehicles to transport the drugs, authorities have said.

Mr. Love received about a kilo of cocaine, worth roughly $37,000 each, every other day, said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. He then broke the kilos into gram-sized pieces and sold them in Riverhead, Greenport, Flanders and Southampton for $50 and $60 a gram.

Authorities said the cocaine operation was one of the largest in East End history.

Mr. Love was on parole while he operated the ring, after being previously convicted of cocaine sale and possession.

He was released from prison in December 2009, but was arrested with the other two Bronx men on June 13 by Riverhead Town police.

Mr. Love tried to flee police and threw a kilo of cocaine over a fence when police arrested him at his Riverhead home, authorities said after the arrest.

The drug charge to which Mr. Love pleaded guilty carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison for a second-time offender, and he faces up to seven years in prison for the conspiracy charge. He will be sentenced May 24, court records show. He is currently being held at the Suffolk County jail on $1 million bond or $500,000 cash bail for sentencing.

Mr. Matos, whom officials identified as a “major player” in the drug world and the mastermind behind the operation, is being held on $2 million bond or $1 million cash bail and is due in court on April 30.

psquire@timesreivew.com

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