House boarded up following raid; drug task force investigating

Several agencies helped with the search warrant execution on Lewis Street in Riverhead. (Credit: Carrie Miller)
Several law enforcement agencies assisted with a search warrant execution on Lewis Street in Riverhead Wednesday. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A Rochester man — one of three people arrested during Wednesday afternoon’s raid in Riverhead — is facing charges for drug possession and fleeing police related to an October traffic stop, according to town court records.

The property on Lewis Street, owned by a former attorney for the Town of Southold, has also been boarded up by Riverhead code enforcement after finding unsafe conditions inside. The homeowner told the News-Review that he had “lost track” of the property after a “rental situation went bad” and commended Riverhead Town for addressing the situation.

“It was a classic situation where we had bad tenants a couple years ago,” said Greg Yakaboski, who added that he believed the house had been vacant since then. “Everything went south from there.”

Riverhead police and prosecutors would not release the identities of either of the two other people arrested, citing an active East End Drug Task Force investigation.

Details on their charges were not immediately available since they have yet to be arraigned in Riverhead Town court.

But one individual arrested was arraigned Wednesday night. Paul Houpe, 22, was taken into custody on an arrest warrant during the raid; the warrant was related to a traffic stop last month in which Mr. Houpe allegedly led police on a foot chase after he was stopped for driving with a suspended license.

Court filings state that on Oct. 17, Mr. Houpe was driving a 2006 Volkswagen on Old Country Road when he was stopped by police. A Suffolk County district judge had suspended Mr. Houpe’s license in 2012 after he failed to pay a fine, court papers showed.

Mr. Houpe allegedly ran from the car after he was stopped near a fast food restaurant, according to court documents. Police later found more than 500 mg of cocaine inside the center console of the car.

After his arrest Wednesday, Mr. Houpe was arraigned in Riverhead Town Court and charged with felony drug possession, as well as misdemeanors for aggravated unlicensed driving and obstructing governmental administration.

He was held on $5,000 cash bail and is due back in court on Monday.

Mr. Yakaboski, the owner of the home that was raided, had served as Southold Town attorney from 1998 through an administration change in 2004.

Mr. Yakaboski said he purchased the property “years ago,” but has since moved away from the area and now lives in North Carolina.

“It’s my fault, I didn’t pay attention,” he said. “I didn’t board it up. I should have.”

Mr. Yakaboski vowed to hire someone to maintain the property now that its condition has been brought to his attention.

“I regret that it became a problem for the community,” he said.

A notice issued by Riverhead Town’s code enforcement unit noted that the house was “unsafe” and “unsecured.” Investigators found the “roof failing, no heat, no electric[ity], windows broken, doors off [their] hinges, … no hot water” and that the boiler was “inoperable,” according to the notice.

Chief code enforcement officer Richard Downs said the portico of the house was also leaning heavily and appeared dangerously close to collapse.

“It was an imminent danger,” Mr. Downs said. Code enforcement officers were allowed into the house after people living there granted them access, he added.

Mr. Yakaboski has until Nov. 15 to begin fixing the property, Mr. Downs said.

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