11/28/13 10:00am
11/28/2013 10:00 AM
JOE PINCIARO PHOTO    | Road work in Wading River just to the west of the Duck Ponds.

JOE PINCIARO PHOTO | Road work in Wading River just to the west of the Duck Ponds.

Brookhaven Town has begun a second phase of work on the Duck Ponds in Wading River, installing catch basins and underground piping to reduce the amount of pollutants carried into the ponds by stormwater runoff.

Town contractors dredged the eastern pond in April 2012, using a $170,000 state grant and $170,000 in town money, said Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner. The town also installed a water quality unit to trap road runoff, and prevent it from entering the ponds, she said.

Phase II, which draws on the same $340,000, includes replacing the culvert under North Country Road, installing catch basins along North Country Road to the west of the ponds, and installing a water quality unit to pick up road runoff west of the ponds, Ms. Bonner said.

“Since a significant amount of trash was found to accumulate in the northwestern corner of the pond, we will also be installing a trash guard unit at the pond outfall to prevent trash from traveling further upstream stream and entering into the remaining Wading River system, which eventually empties into to the Long Island Sound,” Ms. Bonner said.

Riverhead Town also had planned to commit $170,000 to the project for drainage and bulkhead repair work but lost the county grant it had hoped to use for the project, according to Supervisor Sean Walter, who said the town hopes to reapply for that funding.

Officials said that while only about 10 percent of the Duck Ponds site is located in Riverhead Town, rainwater from its roads funnels downhill into the pond — ultimately finding its way into Long Island Sound.

The work being done at the Duck Ponds has important ecological value, said Sid Bail, president of the Wading River Civic Association.

The water from the ponds, which lie at the heart of the hamlet’s historic business district, travels under North Country Road though piping that is being replaced, and ends up in Mill Pond, a large pond behind the former Pizza Pie on Sound Road and other stores nearby, he said. That water, in turn, runs into Sound, so pollutants that end up in the Duck Ponds as a result of stormwater runoff could be contributing to Long Island Sound pollution as well, Mr. Bail said.

“Lately, there’s been a bloom of invasive plants in the western Duck Pond that may be the result of the pipe under the road being clogged,” he said. “These are plants that thrive in stagnant water.”

Mr. Bail said he was told by Brookhaven Town officials that the work, which started last week, would be completed by Dec. 20.

“They’re doing a pretty good job of moving the traffic through this area while the work is ongoing,” Mr. Bail added.


11/27/13 9:00am
11/27/2013 9:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen.

RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen.

The New York State Board of Regents insists the state’s public school students are not “College and Career Ready.” They claim that public school students are not prepared for the rigors of college reading or mathematics. And, since these skills are thought somehow to be crucial to getting a good-paying job, New York’s public school students who do poorly in mathematics and reading are believed to be in danger of becoming unemployable (or at least underemployed).

However, what seems like a simple, straightforward notion — that high school graduates ought to be ready for college and the world of work — turns out to be something quite different. And by that, I mean the announced public school goal of graduating students “College and Career Ready” is yet another sleight of hand from the Board of Regents.

First, consider exactly how the Board of Regents defines “College and Career Ready.”

If a student passes an algebra test in 8th or 9th grade at a level that correlates to a C in freshman mathematics in college, and if that same student passes an English test in 11th grade at a level correlated with a C in freshman English in college, along with earning 22 credits in high school and passing three other Regents exams, then she or he is set and ready to go to college and into the world of work.

No music, art, advanced study in much of anything; no community service, no sports, no occupational training; no independent work in any academic or other creative field is required. In addition, to do well on these tests, it is not necessary to read entire novels or histories or write papers of any length or complexity. It is not necessary to develop a love of anything or demonstrate an ability to think on one’s own feet.

Second, note that 16 of the 17 Board of Regents members, in addition to the commissioner of education himself, send their children to private schools — ones that have not embraced the reforms the Board of Regents and the commissioner claim are needed to make students “College and Career Ready.” I mention this fact because its relevance becomes obvious once one understands what “College and Career Ready” means for the children of our educational leaders. You see, the colleges that the children of Regents and commissioners of education are expected to attend, places like Harvard University, define “College and Career Ready” differently.

To be “College Ready” at Harvard (and at other selective private universities to which Regents send their children) an 18-year old must have a “good high school education,” one that “do[es] more than prepare you for the next level of  education.” A “good” high school education “should prepare you to take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.” Specifically, graduating high school “college ready” to enter Harvard requires “close and extensive reading of the classics of world literature,” four years of a single foreign language, three years of American history, European history and one other advanced history course, four years of mathematics including at least pre-calculus or statistics, advanced physics, chemistry and biology and one other science at an advanced level and “frequent practice in the writing of expository prose.” Art and music, though not mentioned specifically, are not to be understood as incidental to proper preparation for college.

So it turns out that “College and Career Ready” means two different things depending on whether you are a public school student in New York or a student at an expensive private school. “College and Career Ready” for public school kids means achieving at a decidedly mediocre level when compared to the expectations the Regents have for their own children. Perhaps that’s one reason they would never send them to schools that are benefiting from their wonderful reforms.

For “College and Career Ready,” once one digs a bit below the surface, suggests readying public school students for work that does not demand advanced learning in anything and is not oriented toward preparing students to “take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.” No, these loftier expectations, and the courses and other resources needed to achieve them, are to be reserved for students not subject to the glories of the Regents Reform Agenda, students whose parents have the money and connections to keep them out of the public school system.

Most new jobs created in our economy are low-paying service jobs. We should be concerned that “College and Career Ready” actually refers to a curriculum that guides public school students to these jobs, leaving the few good jobs to students who receive a private high school education that prepares them to “take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.”

Make no mistake about it, “College and Career Ready” is code for education apartheid. Do not let your children breathe the stale air of low expectations, reduced exposure to the arts and music, limited engagement with sophisticated science and little, if any, prolonged, deep and thoughtful contact with great literature.

“College and Career Ready” is a trap. Don’t fall for it. Your kids deserve better. Just like theirs.

Steven R. Cohen, Ph.D., is superintendent of schools for Shoreham-Wading River School District.

11/25/13 3:52pm
11/25/2013 3:52 PM
JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | Family members of Justin Walker at Friday night's fundraiser: Kristy Fink, Miranda Walker, Matthew Walker, Jeanette Fink, Kathi Gentile, Sharon Ford, Katie Gentile.

JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | Family members of Justin Walker at Friday night’s fundraiser: Kristy Fink, Miranda Walker, Matthew Walker, Jeanette Fink, Kathi Gentile, Sharon Ford, Katie Gentile.

It was supposed to be a routine trip to the gas station for 18-year-old Justin Walker.

He headed out, filled up his car and was driving back to his relatives’ home in North Carolina — where he was living at the time — when he was involved in a violent wreck that saw his car flip over several times.

In the six months since the mid-May crash, Mr. Walker’s life has been anything but routine. The Riverhead native has been confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak. His prospects at recovering from the accident were so grim, doctors told his family he could be in a vegetative state the rest of his life if he remained on ventilators.

But Mr. Walker had an ace up his sleeve. (Literally. He has a tattoo on his right wrist of playing cards.)

Exactly 81 days later, Mr. Walker awoke from his coma, first wiggling a toe, and now, moving half his body. While the traumatic brain injuries suffered in the crash have taken the aspiring rap artist’s ability to speak, and even the ability to swallow, he can communicate via sign language and write on a board with his right hand.

He’s also got the support of the community.



On Friday night, over 250 members of the community attended a fundraiser to benefit Justin Walker’s Foundation of Hope, Inc., an organization that was created to aid Mr. Walker and his family. The event was held in a hall at St. John the Baptist Church in Wading River.

The group’s founders are also seeking to help others facing similar setbacks.

“It started as a foundation to help with the medical bills and help Jeanette (Mr. Walker’s mother) as well,” said Kristy Fink, Mr. Walker’s aunt. “But on the flip side of it, there are other families in the same position.

“We want to make it that big, big enough to help other people.”

Mr. Walker’s mother, a single mother of two other kids, since took leave from her job at the Suffolk County clerk’s office to stand by her oldest child. While physical recovery remains a large hurdle, Ms. Fink said that having the teenager’s mother at his side has helped him, more than anything else, come back from the brink of death.

“Without her by his side, he wouldn’t be where he is now,” she told the crowd on Friday.

Mr. Walker is living at the Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Smithtown. Ms. Fink said finding a space for him on Long Island was a challenge. His family is hoping to place him at Brendan House, a home for those who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries that’s in the process of being constructed on Sound Avenue in Riverhead.

Finding a place for the young man is not an uncommon challenge, said Erin Weaver, director of family services for the Brain Injury Association of New York State.

COURTESY PHOTO | Justin Walker and his mom, Jeneatte Fink.

COURTESY PHOTO | Justin Walker and his mom, Jeneatte Fink.

Ms. Weaver said that up until the 1970s or 1980s, technology wasn’t often available to keep victims of severe brain injuries alive.

While the technology has become available, services are still catching up to provide care for victims. And the care is in high demand. According to the Centers for Disease Control, on average, 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur each year in the U.S.

Locally, construction of The Brendan House on Sound Avenue is one manifestation of responding to that demand for care.

Allyson Scerri, founder of the nonprofit responsible for bringing the project to life – Medford-based New Beginnings – said “could fill six of those houses,” had she the means.

While money for more such projects as Brendan House isn’t quite within reach, support for the cause Friday night was evident in the donated gift baskets, which were up for lottery, and other items that helped raise money.

Just under 100 items were raffled, from wine baskets to synthetic oil to defensive driving courses. Breads and pies, paintings, T-shirts, even bracelets made by Mr. Walker’s younger brother were on sale, all to benefit Justin Walker’s Foundation of Hope. The event raised about $7,000, and Mr. Walker’s grandparents, Ruth and Douglas Harris, raised another $1,700 for the event. With the proceeds, the foundation will be donating $2,500 to New Beginnings to benefit Brendan House construction.

Trisha Burton, who organized a similar fundraiser for Michael Hubbard – another Riverhead teenager who, over two years ago, fell victim to a traumatic brain injury – helped put the event together.

She was hoping for about $10,000 in donations.

“We all gotta help one another,” said Nancy Reyer, Mr. Hubbard’s mother, who was also in attendance.

Mr. Walker’s grandmother, Kathi Gentile, said she’s been teaching him sign language — a skill nobody in the family knew before these past few months.

Among the words and phrases she’s teaching her grandson, are the two she says are the most important for his recovery: ”I believe,” and “Hope.’”

JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | Justin Walker's younger brother, Matthew, made bracelets to raise funds for the Justin Walker Foundation for Hope.

JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | Justin Walker’s younger brother, Matthew, made bracelets to raise funds for the Justin Walker Foundation for Hope.


11/24/13 2:00pm
11/24/2013 2:00 PM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Allison Rappa works at her home studio in Aquebogue.

During a recent evening in the makeshift beauty studio located on the second floor of her Aquebogue home, Allison Rappa was hard at work applying a full set of silk eyelash extensions to a female client.

“I feel like I’m performing surgery,” Ms. Rappa joked as she used special tweezers to dip the silk eyelashes into a medical-grade adhesive before gluing them onto her client’s eyes at a ratio of one synthetic lash to one natural lash.

“There’s a lot to know when doing lashes,” she said of the process, which gives clients the look of mascara, no effort required. “It’s not just grabbing a lash and sticking them on. It’s very meticulous.”

The increasing popularity of eyelash extensions, whose legions of followers reportedly include the eternally doe-eyed Kim Kardashian and pop singer Katy Perry, is one of the reasons Ms. Rappa, a licensed cosmetologist, has decided to launch The Beauty Bar, a new spa she plans to open in Southold by the end of this month.

Located in a roughly 1,200-square-foot space above Salone Dei Capelli on Main Road, in what was previously a psychiatrist’s office, The Beauty Bar, Ms. Rappa said, will offer customers a variety of cosmetic and therapeutic services, including eyelash extensions, professional makeup application, waxing, facials, body wraps and massage therapy.

In addition, Ms. Rappa said, her friend Michael DeRosa, a nurse practitioner, will likely stop into The Beauty Bar once or twice a month to give clients injectable facial fillers like Botox and Juvéderm.

“Minimally invasive procedures are in great demand ,” Mr. DeRosa said of the popularity of facial fillers.

As for Ms. Rappa, whom Mr. DeRosa has known for years, “she’s somebody who knows what patients and clients need,” he said.

For nearly seven years, Ms. Rappa, 34, has operated her small business, Artistry by Allie, out of her home in Aquebogue, where she lives with her husband, Adrian Feliciano, owner of My Butcher in Wading River, and her two children.

“I definitely outgrew my home,” Ms. Rappa said of her decision to open a separate business in Southold, an area where she said a fair number of her current clients live. Ms. Rappa said she’s currently on the lookout for a nail technician and certified aesthetician.

“I wanted a space where I could have a store that everybody could come to for services,” she said of the new location.

A lifelong Suffolk County resident, Ms. Rappa studied makeup artistry at the New York and Los Angeles campuses of Make-up Designory, a professional makeup school. She was trained in eyelash extension application by NovaLash, a leader in the burgeoning lash extension industry.

“Lash extensions are probably the most innovative new technique in the beauty industry,” Ms. Rap-pa said. “You don’t need makeup and you can throw away your mascara. You basically wake up looking beautiful.”

“I’m into beauty,” she added. “I love bringing out everybody’s features.”

“She’s very familiar with the face, and aesthetics,” Mr. DeRosa said of Ms. Rappa. “It’s exciting to see somebody like that opening a business to serve our community.”


11/05/13 10:00am
11/05/2013 10:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Patrick Gaeta curing bacon earlier this year.

RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Patrick Gaeta curing bacon earlier this year.

When Patrick Gaeta launched North Fork Bacon earlier this year, the Wading River resident’s objective was simple: to offer customers premium bacon, smoked and cured the old-fashioned way, by hand.

North Fork Bacon, which is made from Berkshire pigs sourced out of upstate New York, popped up on the menus of multiple local restaurants this summer, including as a burger topping at Blackwells at Great Rock in Wading River. For a time, it was available for sale in one-pound packages at My Butcher, also in Wading River.

Now Mr. Gaeta, 31, is taking the next step in the future of North Fork Bacon by setting up shop in the retail space formerly occupied by The Pizza Pie, a 13-year-old pizzeria in the historic Wading River business district owned by Mike Roth that closed its doors in October.

Mr. Gaeta, a full-time x-ray technician at Long Island Bone and Joint, received the keys to his new storefront Nov. 4 and is shooting to open for business by March 1, he said. Joining him as a business partner in the venture is his friend and former co-worker, Michael Troyan.

“Lets face it,” Mr. Gaeta said. “Every town you go to has some form of diner, a deli that just blasts out sandwiches, three to five pizzerias and a Chinese food place. I want to bring a style of barbecue and restaurant to the area that many people haven’t seen and aren’t familiar with.”

Last month, Mr. Roth, who is also the president of the Wading River Chamber of Commerce, told the News-Review he might not stay in business much longer.

“I’ll just try to hold on as best I can,” he said at the time.

To better reflect menu offerings — egg sandwiches, omelets, waffles, barbecue sandwiches and cured meats smoked in-house are all planned in addition to bacon — Mr. Gaeta said the name of the business will change to North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse. The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch, he said, and will only be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the first few months of its debut. To ensure freshness, North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse will close its doors once all the day’s food is gone, Mr. Gaeta said.

“No one wants to see trays of prepared food coming out of the walk-in [freezer] and then heated up,” he said. “We’ll be doing everything fresh daily.”

Despite the fact that many of the storefronts in the historic Wading River business district sit empty, Mr. Gaeta – whose first job was at the now-closed Trotta’s Pizza Café in Wading River, located in the same retail space he’ll be moving into — isn’t concerned about being able to attract customers.

“We’re the only major thoroughfare to Wading River Beach,” he said of the business district’s location at the intersection of Sound Road and North Country Road. “Traffic is always going through there and with a place serving quality food, it’ll bring a crowd.

“I think of where I like to eat,” Mr. Gaeta said. “If the quality is there, it’s worth the trip.”


10/31/13 2:00pm
10/31/2013 2:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Wildwood State Park in Wading River.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Wildwood State Park in Wading River.

New York State Parks Department officials say septic systems at five state parks – including Wildwood State Park in Wading River – are not in compliance with current septic treatment standards and will be upgraded.

The announcement follow the Peconic Baykeeper’s notice that it intends to sue the parks department in federal court for using outdated systems at those same parks because the systems violate the U.S. Clean Water Act

“State parks began its review of the septic systems immediately after becoming aware of the allegations made by Peconic Baykeeper,” said Dan Keefe, a department spokesman.

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Parks officials announced last Monday that the department has entered into a consent order, or agreement, with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to update 30 septic systems at the parks, which were found to be outdated and no longer compliant with current septic treatment standards.

The cost of the updates, which will include four of 20 septic systems at the Wading River park, is at more than $5 million, Mr. Keefe said.

The agreement also includes a $250,000 project to install nitrogen reduction technology at one of the park locations, according to a parks department press release.

On July 16, Peconic Baykeeper president Kevin McAllister announced his intent to sue the state for violating the Clean Water Act by failing to have National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, which are aimed at controlling the amount of pollutants entering the nation’s surface waters.

According to the July 16 legal notice, Wildwood park has been utilizing Class V large-capacity cesspools, which were banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in April 2005 to protect drinking water.

Federal law requires at least 90 days’ advance notice of a lawsuit, so the action against the parks department could not be filed until now, Mr. McAllister said.

“We’re not going away. Our plan is to go forward with this,” he told this newspaper.

“The consent order does not go far enough – it doesn’t address the nitrogen loading coming from these systems,” Mr. McAllister said. “Some 1,000 toilet flushes are entering the groundwater from those facilities each day … it doesn’t sound as though they are going to make the commitment to real upgrades which would denitrify the wastewater.”

Mr. McAllister said he and attorney Reed Super plan to file the lawsuit sometime next week.

“We want to see denitrification systems. If they are going to be ripping these things out of the ground, it’s an opportunity to do the right thing. New York State should be leading the way with respect to more advanced wastewater treatment,” he said. “Their version of upgraded is not our version.”

The actions Peconic Baykeeper has filed against the state DEC and parks department are being undertaken in partnership with Long Island Soundkeeper, based in Connecticut.


10/18/13 6:18pm
10/18/2013 6:18 PM


One person was sent to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson with minor injuries Friday evening after their Nissan Altima struck the back of a Jeep Patriot while driving westbound on Route 25A in Wading River, Riverhead Police said.

The driver of the Nissan Altima told police the glare from the sun caused them to crash into the back of the Jeep Patriot shortly after 5 p.m. in front of the King Kullen Shopping Center, an officer at the scene of the accident said. Police said the driver of the Jeep Patriot was not injured and that neither car contained any passengers.

Both Riverhead Police and the Wading River Fire Department responded to the scene.

Traffic was moving in both directions on Route 25a in Wading River as of 5:30 p.m.


10/18/13 4:15pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Alice Belmonte has been charged with nearly 40 felony charges. Prosecutors say she bilked investors of roughly $4 million.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Alice Belmonte has been charged with nearly 40 felony charges. Prosecutors say she bilked investors of roughly $4 million.

A disbarred Wading River attorney accused of masterminding a $4 million real estate Ponzi scheme forged contracts, faked emails from banks, and signed her victims’ names for them, going so far as to convince a close friend that her pie-in-the-sky foreclosure deals were well worth the investment while she bought new cars and took vacations to California with the stolen funds, according to court documents and sources close to the case.

Alice Belmonte began luring the victims of her scam with promises of “quick, high rates of return on their investments,” the documents state. She reportedly told victims she had contacts with banks involved in real estate owned-listings, better known as foreclosures, that failed to sell at auction and were owned by lenders.

Prosecutors allege the REO transactions never existed, and that Ms. Belmonte ended up taking the money for herself.

She was arrested on Thursday on nearly 50 charges in total, and is currently being held on $3 million bail. She faces up to 25 years in prison.


Ms. Belmonte, 47, was a sole practitioner attorney specializing in real estate purchases and investments, with offices in New York City and on Long Island.

The scheme started in 2011, when Ms. Belmonte told investors that all they had to do was deposit money in her escrow account as “proof of funds” to let her prove to the REO listing owners she could close the deal, according to the documents.

She reportedly stole from 10 victims in total, starting with a group of investors from Florida in late 2011. According to prosecutors, she secured contracts with each of the victims – including one family that invested $2 million with Ms. Belmonte – over the next several months, asking them to wire $3.6 million in total into her escrow account.

Within days, the invested money had been taken out, in some cases on the same day it was deposited by her victims, the documents state. The money was then held in other bank accounts run by Ms. Belmonte and later used to repay other investors lined up in the Ponzi scheme.

Not long after their business relationship started, the Florida family which fell victim to Ms. Belmonte’s pyramid scheme noticed that her malpractice insurance policy included a section that “excluded coverage for intentional acts by a lawyer,” the documents state. They asked Ms. Belmonte to remove the section, but instead of getting rid of the amendment, Ms. Belmonte allegedly faked a new contract and gave it to them.

Through the forgery, she was able to keep them invested in her scam, authorities said.

The Florida victims’ money was reportedly never returned.


At the end of 2011, more victims were lured into the scam, court documents state. A “close friend” and an acquaintance of Ms. Belmonte would be the next victims.

She convinced the two victims to invest $250,000 as proof of funding for another REO transaction, then bounced $615,000 in checks representing their profit and initial investment to the pair, according to the documents.

To reassure them that they would be paid soon, Ms. Belmonte faked another contract claiming she would be receiving $2 million for the sale of her companies. The supposed buyer in the deal was a Florida investment group – her original investors she was simultaneously defrauding, the documents state.

Ms. Belmonte forged the signature of one of the Florida investors to perpetuate the fraud, prosecutors said. She eventually returned $25,000 of the money, using funds stolen from Florida to make the payment, the documents state.

Meanwhile, Ms. Belmonte was stealing another $250,000 from someone else interested in buying real estate. Once the buyer deposited the money, Ms. Belmonte withdrew the funds to pay off other accounts.

In December 2012, the victim cancelled the contract and asked for a refund. Ms. Belmonte gave the client a forged wire transfer receipt a month later after “many excuses and delays,” the documents state.

The money had never been sent, prosecutors said. Instead of the multi-million account she claimed to have, Ms. Belmonte’s account balance was actually just $8.55, according to court documents.

The buyer never got the stolen funds back, the documents state.


Ms. Belmonte used the millions in stolen funds not only to pay off other investors in the racket, but to treat herself to new cars and hotel room stays, a source familiar with the case said.

She recently used $100,000 to purchase two cars in California, a Chrysler 300 luxury sedan and a Chrysler Town and Country minivan, the source said. She also spent $77,000 of the money on hotel rooms in California, including rooms costing up to $1,750 per night, according to the source.

But by February, Ms. Belmonte was under pressure from four allegations brought by her victims that she misused their investment money, according to court documents.

In a state Supreme Court proceeding tendering her resignation as an attorney after 20 years, Ms. Belmonte admitted she “could not defend herself on the merits” of the charges. Her resignation was accepted and she was disbarred.

On Thursday, she was arraigned in Supreme Court in New York City.

Ms. Belmonte was charged with 39 felonies: one count of first-degree grand larceny, seven counts of second-degree grand larceny, one count of third-degree grand larceny, 26 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, three counts of third-degree identity theft, one count of first-degree scheme to defraud in the first degree. She was also charged with 10 misdemeanor counts of issuing a bad check.

Ms. Belmonte pleaded not guilty to the charges and was held on $3 million cash or bond bail. She is due back in court on Dec. 9, court officials said.

Her attorney, Kenneth C. Murphy of Manhattan, only said on Friday that bail was set too high, and declined to comment further about the case or Ms. Belmonte.