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Town asking FBI to investigate racist letters former school superintendent reported to police

Riverhead Town has forwarded racist hate mail received by the Riverhead School District’s former superintendent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar announced at Tuesday’s Riverhead Town Board meeting. The request comes even as the administrator has repeatedly asked police not to further investigate complaints she filed.

Ms. Aguiar, who called the letters sent to former superintendent Aurelia Henriquez “despicable,” said the town asked the FBI to “find out who did this.”

“We will not tolerate it,” the supervisor said. “I personally hand delivered a letter to the FBI and asked them to conduct an investigation. We need to bring whoever is responsible up front.”

According to a police report released by the Suffolk County Police Department to the News-Review Wednesday, but first reported on by RiverheadLocal last week, Ms. Henriquez filed a report with the SCPD’s 5th precinct on June 22 stating that sometime overnight an unknown person placed an envelope on her vehicle that was addressed to her and contained another envelope with a barbie doll head and arm inside.

“Beaner! Go! Resign you will suffer if you won’t leave. We hate your kind,” was written on the inside envelope, according to the report.

Aurelia Henriquez at a prior Board of Education meeting. (File photo)

Detectives from the SCPD hate crimes unit met with Ms. Henriquez, 46, who is Hispanic, but she said she did not want officers to go to her neighborhood or contact any of her neighbors regarding surveillance cameras, the report states. (Police redacted the next sentence in the report.)

Police said they collected doll parts to test for fingerprints and DNA and followed up the next day with Ms. Henriquez, who again said she wanted no police involvement regarding the case.

Police said that due to her lack of cooperation, they closed the case, saying they were unable to determine if a crime was committed.

But about a week later, on July 1, hate crimes investigators were contacted via email by Riverhead Det. Edward Frost regarding a pair of new letters Ms. Henriquez had brought to the department, asking them to document.

“We hate your kind,” a letter stated. “This town does not need dirty s—- and n——.”

Detectives said they contacted Ms. Henriquez, but she again “did not wish to have this incident followed up on.”

“Due to complainant’s unwillingness to cooperate [detectives were again] unable to determine if any crime was committed,” police wrote in the report.

RiverheadLocal also reported that Ms. Henriquez, who could not be reached for comment this week, received a similar note in August 2018.

Ms. Aguiar mentioned that she requested FBI involvement after a town resident asked the Town Board why it hadn’t publicly discussed the letters Ms. Henriquez allegedly received and reported to town police.

Asked Thursday why it was important to forward the complaint to the country’s principal federal law enforcement agency, Ms. Aguiar, a former NYPD detective and a professor of criminal justice, said she believed a federal crime had been committed when the post office was used to send the threat.

“You can’t have someone use the mail to harass individuals,” she said. “We can’t have that in Riverhead.

“This is a hate crime. It’s harassment and it’s a horrible act.”

Ms. Henriquez resigned from her position with the school district on June 29. In a statement released by the district at the time, former Board of Education president Greg Meyer cited “certain irreconcilable differences” and “in the best interest of her family” as reasons for her resignation.

“The BOE wishes to thank Dr. Henriquez for her commitment to the students, staff and community during her tenure with the district,” Mr. Meyer said during the meeting announcing her resignation. “Dr. Henriquez extends her appreciation to the students, staff and community for their support of her leadership as superintendent of schools. On behalf of Board of Education, we’d like to wish Dr. Henriquez luck in her future endeavors.”

Ms. Henriquez was hired in May 2017 and had recently seen her contract extended prior to her resignation.

Under the terms of a separation agreement she signed with the school district, which was approved by the Board of Education June 29 and obtained by the News-Review through Freedom of Information laws, Dr. Henriquez was entitled to a check equal to half of her 2019-2020 base salary upon her resignation. The district will also begin paying her monthly in January 2021 through June 30, 2021 at her 2019-2020 contract rate should she fail to secure a new job by then.