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 - Click for Restaurant Directory_____

 

A Sign of Our Times

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Grand Jury Report critical of Smithtown town
gover
nments supervision
of commercial
property demolition…

The Grand Jury Report is public record and available at the link below. It is 40 pages, but double spaced, and well worth the few minutes it takes to read it.

Please feel free to share your comments with us.

Click on link for Full Report

 

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Sign of our Times

By Eric Sailor

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Thursday
May232019

Schumer - Landmark Robocall Relief Legislation Passes Senate

 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his push, the Senate has passed landmark legislation, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. The TRACED Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and John Thune (R-SD) and cosponsored by Schumer, would give federal agencies newfound tools and authority to trace, prosecute and enforce fines against robocall scammers, as well as establish new requirements related to call authentication technology that could filter out robocalls before they reach the phones of unsuspecting New Yorkers. The legislation now goes onto the House, where the Senator is urging swift passage to make this law.  

“I’ve been beating the drum on the plague of robocalls for years now, because there’s very little more annoying to New Yorkers than being woken up in the dead of night by automated calls trying to scam them out of their hard-earned money. Today, the Senate has taken a major step forward in this fight by passing the TRACED Act,” said Senator Schumer. “The TRACED Act, at long last, will arm the feds with new tools and authority to trace, prosecute and enforce fines against robocall scammers, as well as set new call authentication requirements designed to filter out robocalls—especially the ones abroad—before they reach the phones of unsuspecting New Yorkers. The TRACED Act is just what we need to hang up on these nonstop robocalls, and the House should follow the Senate’s lead and pass it ASAP.”

Schumer says, despite federal ‘Do Not Call’ rules, robocalls and unwanted spam calls are getting worse by the day in New York City and Long Island, with a staggering 176 million reported in April of this year alone. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), unwanted and illegal robocalls are the FTC’s number-one complaint category, with more than 3.7 million complaints filed in 2018. Schumer explained that the TRACED Act, once signed into law, will be a new arrow in New York’s quiver to combat the rampage of robocalls throughout the state.

Americans received 4.9 billion robocalls this March – a new record total for the number of calls made in one month. Earlier this year, YouMail reported that 47.7 billion robocalls were made in the U.S. in 2018, a 57 percent increase over the number of calls made the year prior. Additional data shows that in April of this year, New Yorkers received 290.3 million robocalls, which averaged over 112 calls per second and 11 calls per New Yorker. 

The number of robocalls placed to NYC area codes each month so far in 2019 can be found below:

 

 

January

February

March

April

212

3,571,700

3,124,200

3,147,900

2,833,000

332

10,100

21,300

28,700

42,200

347

48,587,500

45,173,900

49,005,800

42,334,100

646

27,825,100

26,343,300

28,215,200

25,348,200

718

23,568,500

21,089,200

23,469,500

20,164,900

917

53,585,800

49,980,500

55,144,700

48,088,600

929

2,753,800

2,853,100

2,982,200

3,049,100

 

The number of robocalls placed to Long Island area codes each month so far in 2019 can be found below:

 

 

January

February

March

April

516

22,750,600

20,883,400

23,247,200

20,831,300

631

15,454,100

13,834,800

14,932,200

13,911,000

934

26,400

21,300

5,600

36,300

 

To hang up on these deceitful robocalls, Schumer will be calling on the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and expediently vote on and pass the TRACED Act. The TRACED Act would work to combat robocalls by:

 

  1. Giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the ability to fine robocall scheme perpetrators $10,000 per call made.
  2. Increasing the timeframe under which the FCC could find and prosecute robocall schemes from one to three years after a call is placed.
  3. Requiring the Department of Justice (DOJ), FCC, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other agencies and state officials to issue recommendations to Congress on how to further bolster methods to combat robocalls.
  4. Requiring telecommunications companies to implement effective call authentication technology, which could help stop robocalls before they reach the phones of unsuspecting victims.

 

**Specifically**, this would require companies to implement Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) standards. This means that calls traveling through interconnected phone networks would have their caller ID “signed” as legitimate by originating carriers and validated by other carriers before reaching consumers. SHAKEN/STIR digitally validates the handoff of phone calls passing through the complex web of networks, allowing the phone company of the consumer receiving the call to verify that a call is from the person making it.

Robocalls are phone calls that use automated dialing machines to play a pre-recorded message. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 99 percent of robocalls are illegitimate or fraudulent. Illegal robocalls are made by companies or individuals trying to scam the person on the other end of the phone. Many times, these calls are placed using “caller ID spoofing.” Individuals that resort to “caller ID spoofing” use advanced technology to mimic the caller ID of a legitimate entity such as a government agency, credit card company, a bank, or even a next door neighbor. Under the “Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009,” robocalls are illegal if used for the purpose of defrauding or otherwise causing harm. However, despite the fact that many of these calls clearly violate the law, it is difficult if not impossible to catch the perpetrators, many of whom are overseas or hiding behind fake numbers. The TRACED Act will give the feds more time to track down these scammers.

 

Wednesday
May222019

Senator Flanagan Offers Scathing Statement After Release Of Convicted Murderer Matthew Solomon

 

Days after cold-blooded killer Matthew Solomon walked out of prison a free man, New York State Senate Republican Leader John J. Flanagan stood with victim Lisa Solomon’s family and the Suffolk County PBA to speak for crime victims and their families who in the days of Democrat control have no voice in New York State.

Matthew Solomon, married to Lisa for six weeks, hoodwinked heartbroken residents of Long Island by spearheading a search effort for his wife who disappeared on Christmas Eve of 1987. As it turned out, Matthew Solomon strangled her and disposed of her body in garbage bags which would later be discovered during a search by her cousin, Steven Klerk.

He received a sentence of 18 years to life. Matthew Solomon was set free by a left-leaning parole board on May 14.

“Some crimes are so heinous that they become seared in your memory and the murder of Lisa Solomon, a young woman with everything to live for, and who had just gotten married, is one of those events. Matthew Solomon deceived the public when it turned out he threw a beautiful life away like garbage. He deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars. More and more we see a lack of consideration for people like Lisa’s family, those who hurt the most as a result of violent crime, and who are being completely ignored by the parole board and by Democrats who control Albany. It is our responsibility to give victims a voice and to protect the public from people like Matthew Solomon who should never walk the streets again, as Lisa will never be able to do.” said Senate Republican Leader Flanagan.

Recently, the New York State Parole Board has released a series of murders, including Matthew Solomon, Judith Clark, who murdered two police officers and a security guard during the 1981 Brinks heist, and Herman Bell, a cop-killer.

On top of this imbalance of justice, Democrats, who control both legislative houses, pushed through a “Criminal Bill of Rights”which will set 90 percent of criminals home without bail, hobbling police as they try to build cases, and implemented new discovery rules which will turn over victim and witness information to the defense. All of these changes were made unilaterally, without a hearing and without listening to warnings from bipartisan voices from law enforcement and district attorneys offices across the state warning of the dangers.

New York State Senate Republicans put forward a Victims Justice Agenda to empower those grieving like Steven Klerk and others ignored by this lopsided system.

VICTIMS JUSTICE AGENDA

 

  •  S.1995 - Little - Provides that the sentence for murder in the first degree shall be life imprisonment without parole.
  •  S.357 - Tedisco - Authorizes imposition of life imprisonment without parole sentence for persistent violent felony offenders upon conviction of a violent felony offense when such person has previously been subjected to two or more predicate violent felony convictions.
  •   S.1410 - Ritchie - Requires that all comments and testimony made by a third party either in support or opposition in a parole hearing shall be considered when coming to a decision; adds provisions relating to confidentiality of victim statements.
  •  S.4127 - Tedisco - Requires that all victim impact statements in New York state be video recorded; requires that the members of the parole board review all relevant victim impact statements prior to the conduct of a parole hearing 
  •   S.1745 - Gallivan - Provides that any person interested in the grant or denial of discretionary release shall have the right to submit a written statement of views in support of or in opposition to the granting of discretionary release which the parole board may consider.
  •  S.3734 - LaValle - Requires inmates to have an acceptable residence to qualify for parole. 
  •  S.4354 - LaValle - Enacts “Lorraine’s Law”; increases from twenty-four to sixty months, the time for which reconsideration for parole for a violent felony offense shall be determined.
  •  S.3268 - Lanza - Enacts “Cesar’s law” to require the retaking of parolees, who abscond from the supervision of the state board of parole.
  • S.4644  - Helming - Enacts “The Domestic Violence Protection Act - Brittany’s Law” requiring registration of violent felony offenders; sets forth duties of the division of criminal justice services; establishes a special telephone number; requires the division to maintain a subdirectory of violent predators.
  •  S.1406 - Helming - “Clara’s Law” Requires health care facilities to report incidents of a sexual offense to the departments of health and education.

 

Wednesday
May222019

DA Sini Announces Exoneration Of Keith Bush Of 1976 Murder Conviction

 

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini today announced the exoneration of Keith Bush following an investigation by the Office’s Conviction Integrity Bureau (“CIB”), which resulted in a filing in support of vacating Bush’s 1976 conviction for the murder and attempted rape of 14-year-old Sherese Watson on Jan. 11, 1975, in Bellport. Bush, who is currently age 62, served 33 years in prison in connection with the murder and, until his exoneration, remained under state-supervised release as a lifetime parolee. His status as a registered level three sex offender, the highest risk level in New York State, was also vacated today.

The motion to vacate Bush’s conviction was filed in Suffolk County Court today by his defense counsel, Adele Bernhard, director of New York Law School’s Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic, and an affirmation in support of the motion to vacate was filed by District Attorney Sini. Suffolk County Court Judge Anthony S. Senft, Jr. granted the motion, thus vacating Bush’s conviction and sentence and dismissing the charges that had been filed against him 44 years ago.

The filing in support of vacating the conviction and dismissing the indictment against Bush was the result of an exhaustive nine-month investigation and review of the case by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Integrity Bureau. The Bureau was created by newly-elected District Attorney Sini when he took office in January 2018.

In summary, the Conviction Integrity Bureau’s investigation reached the following conclusions in support of vacating Bush’s conviction:

  • The prosecutor who investigated and prosecuted the case more than 40 years ago suppressed evidence concerning an alternative suspect, preventing Bush from learning about the suspect until the Suffolk County Police Department and Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office made the evidence available to him between October 2017 and April 2018. Evidence gathered by the CIB indicates that this individual was a probable suspect in the murder of Sherese Watson;
  • Bush’s confession, which he insisted from the outset was coerced by beatings and other misconduct, has been proven false in material respects and was elicited by a detective who alluded to use of coercive tactics when questioned by the CIB;
  • The theory of the crime presented at trial has been debunked by forensic evidence;
  • A key witness against Bush at trial, a 15-year-old girl who testified that Bush and Watson left the party together, recanted under oath in 1980 and has maintained her recantation since that date, including to the CIB, which found corroboration for her recantation;
  • Bush’s alibi defense has been supported by witnesses who have stated under oath that Bush in fact did have a valid alibi, and that they were prevented from testifying about that alibi by threats and intimidation prior to trial; and
  • Other evidence against Bush has been undermined by subsequent developments and re-investigation.

Statements: 

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini: “The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office believes Keith Bush did not commit this murder, and we believe that justice was done today with the vacatur of Mr. Bush’s conviction and sentence and the dismissal of the indictment. We cannot give back what he lost, but it is our hope that this does some good in allowing Mr. Bush to move forward.

We are doing amazing work here in Suffolk County on a daily basis, creating a culture of excellence and professionalism and reducing crime to historic levels, but none of that matters if we do not correct the injustices of the past. We supported Mr. Bush’s petition today not only because that is what justice so required, but also because that is the only path forward for the criminal justice system in Suffolk County.

I want to thank the Suffolk County Police Department’s current administration and all the members of the Department who collaborated with us on this investigation. I want to thank the police commissioner, Geraldine Hart, who has been absolutely exceptional in many respects. The partnership between the Police department and the Conviction Integrity Bureau will continue to evolve and we are excited about that.

I would also like to the thank the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office, including Dr. Michael Caplan, our chief medical examiner, and Bob Genna, the head of our crime laboratory. I want to thank the members of my office who put so much work into this case, both in the Conviction Integrity Bureau – including Howard Master, Brendan Ahern and Amanda Goun – as well as folks who assisted in many other capacities, including our FOIL team, particularly Assistant District Attorney Al Croce, who was an unsung hero of this case.” 

Keith Bush, as stated at the press conference on May 22“I lived with a lot of pessimism about the criminal justice system because I’ve always experienced denial after denial, but there was something that drove me, enabled me to continue to fight and to continue to believe that if you persist long enough, ultimately you can succeed. I placed my principals and my ethics on trust and the truth, and I tried to live by that hoping that this day would arrive. I think that because of my attorney and because of the current District Attorney’s Office, that day has arrived. They shook up my pessimism about the system because now I know and I believe that there is hope and there are good people in the system, as well as bad, and those possibilities enable us to find justice. I would like to say to the District Attorney’s Office that I am truly grateful for your efforts and for all that you have done in this particular case, and I would like to say to the world that when you have people that do good things, justice will follow.”

Summary of Sherese Watson Murder and Keith Bush’s Arrest & Trial:

On Friday, Jan. 10, 1975, a Bellport resident named Pearl Jackson hosted a party at her house, located at 735 Bourdois Avenue. The party began at approximately 9 p.m. and ended at approximately 3 a.m. on Saturday. Approximately 75 to 100 people attended the party, including Bush, then 17 years old, and Sherese Watson. 

Watson left the party at approximately 1:30 a.m. Saturday but never returned home. Her remains were discovered two days later in a field on the east side of Meade Avenue, between Brookhaven Avenue and Hampton Avenue. She was determined to have been a victim of attempted rape, physical assault, and murder by strangulation. 

Detectives identified Bush as a suspect, despite his provision of an alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the murder, based on information that Bush was the last person seen talking to Watson before she left, as further supplemented by a statement from a 15-year-old runaway named Maxine Bell, which she later recanted, in which she described Bush leaving the party “hugged up” to Watson. 

On April 14, 1975, Bush was taken in for interrogation by the detectives assigned to investigate the Watson murder. After several hours of questioning, during which Bush asserted he was subjected to beatings and other forms of physical and psychological coercion, Bush signed a confession in which he described trying to have sex with Watson, then stabbing her with a metal hair pick in the back, then strangling her when she screamed after being stabbed. After signing the statement, Bush was placed under arrest. Soon thereafter, police executed a search warrant in which they obtained a metal hair pick from Bush’s cousin that the prosecution alleged at trial was Bush’s.

Bush maintained his innocence through trial and testified in his own defense. After four days of deliberations, Bush was convicted on April 2, 1976, by the jury of Murder in the Second Degree and Attempted Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. 

Identification of Alternative Suspect:

In late April 1975, after Bush’s arrest but before trial, the assigned detectives became aware of an alternative suspect in Watson’s murder, a 21-year-old man named John Jones. The circumstances under which Jones came to the attention of police are unknown, however Jones’ criminal history records reflect that he had been arrested for unauthorized use of a vehicle on April 18, 1975, suggesting that Jones may have made statements at the time of his arrest or provided fingerprint or other evidence that linked him to the Watson murder.

On May 9, 1975, Jones provided a statement, witnessed by a detective assigned to the case, stating that he had attended the party at the Jackson home and had stumbled over Watson’s body while walking home to his sister’s house, losing his black plastic hair pick when he tripped over her. The black plastic hair pick had been recovered by police next to Watson’s body at the crime scene. Jones drew a map for detectives purporting to explain his route from the party to his sister’s home, which was due east of the party location, via Watson’s body, which was found several blocks west of the party.

According to police reports, Jones was also administered two polygraph tests in connection with the Watson murder: one as of May 1, 1975, which has not been located, and a second on July 7, 1975 that found Jones’ denial of involvement to display “slight indications of truthfulness.” The Arther method of polygraphy, which was used on Jones in the second test, has since come under considerable criticism as having significant scientific defects and is no longer considered reliable.

The existence of Jones as an alternative suspect – including his statement to police and the results of the two polygraph tests – were never disclosed to Bush’s defense attorney and were not mentioned at trial. Evidence concerning the alternative suspect was first produced to Bush via FOIL requests between October 2017 and April 2018.

Jones died in 2006 before Bush was able to learn of his existence as an alternative suspect.

Bush’s Incarceration and Continued Efforts to Achieve Exoneration:

Bush spent 32 years in prison for the murder. Upon his release in 2007, he was placed on lifetime parole and required to register as a Level Three sex offender, the highest risk level for New York State. Bush then spent an additional year in prison for a parole violation relating to his use of a computer with internet access, which he was using to write his memoir. Throughout his incarceration and post-release supervision, he continued to file a variety of direct appeals of and collateral attacks on his conviction, none of which were successful, as well as FOIL requests for records. 

Bush filed an appeal of his conviction and was granted a post-trial evidentiary hearing in 1980. At the hearing, Maxine Bell, then 21 years old, recanted her testimony that she had seen Bush leave the party with Watson on the night of the murder. Bell testified at the hearing that her statement to the police and subsequent trial testimony were false, and that she had in fact not even been at the party on the night of Watson’s death. The judge presiding over the hearing ruled that her recantation was not credible, and it was disregarded.  

In 2005, in response to a request from Bush, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office agreed to examine forensic evidence taken from Watson’s body and from the crime scene for the presence of DNA, including scrapings taken from underneath Watson’s fingernails following the discovery of her body. The testing found that Bush could not have been the source of male DNA fragments found in the fingernail scrapings. Testing of other crime scene evidence revealed another male DNA fragment that could not have come from Bush. The Office claimed that it did not exculpate Bush of the crime and opposed the request to vacate the conviction, and that request was denied. 

In 2017, Bush’s attorney obtained autopsy reports and photos as well as materials from his Suffolk County Police file in response to a FOIL request. The autopsy records included photos and reports concerning the wounds on Watson’s back that were submitted to well-known forensic scientist Dr. Michael Baden. Dr. Baden opined that the hair pick purportedly used by Bush to stab Watson could not have caused those wounds, nor could the wounds have been inflicted prior to her strangulation, as set forth in the confession signed by Bush. Bush also obtained documents concerning Jones via FOIL between October 2017 and April 2018.

Following receipt of the documents, Bush submitted an application to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s CIB in July 2018.

Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Bureau’s Investigation & Analysis of Bush’s Application

Bush’s application to the Conviction Integrity Bureau sought relief from his conviction on the basis of the newly-discovered evidence concerning Jones and post-trial DNA testing, as well as the violation of Bush’s due process rights to receive exculpatory evidence under Brady v. Maryland. The Conviction Integrity Bureau’s findings, based on an investigation of the challenges Bush presented in his application, are as follows:

1. Information About an Alternative Suspect was Illegally Suppressed

The investigation determined that exculpatory Brady information about a viable alternative murder suspect, Jones, was intentionally hidden from the defense by the lead trial prosecutor prior to trial, and no investigation of Jones’s potential involvement in the murder ever was conducted by assigned detectives. The CIB further determined that Jones’ account of his actions on the night of the murder was implausible and suggested that Jones was not being truthful when he denied involvement in the murder. The non-disclosure of the Jones statement constitutes a Brady violation, which requires that exculpatory information be disclosed by the prosecution prior to trial. Moreover, information obtained as a result of the CIB’s investigation indicates that Jones, who had a lengthy criminal history, an unlawful interest in underage girls, and a sister who lived in close proximity to the party attended by Watson, may well have committed the murder.

2. The Confession was Materially False

Bush claimed that his confession, which was the key piece of evidence against him at trial, is false and coerced. Among his support for the claim is the report offorensic expert Dr. Baden that the puncture marks on Watson’s lower back were not, and could not have been, caused by the hair pick that police recovered at Bush’s house and asserted was the weapon used by Bush to stab Watson.

SCDAO Findings:

An opinion written by Dr. Baden in 2016 and an independent evaluation of the evidence in 2019 by Suffolk County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Caplan both concluded that the hair pick could not have inflicted the wounds found on Watson’s back, due to the spacing of the tines, and that Watson had been stabbed after she had already been strangled, which proves that the order of events in Bush’s written confession is false.

The Conviction Integrity Bureau’s investigation also found evidence to support Bush’s claim that he was coerced into signing the confession.

One of the former detectives who obtained the confession from Bush, August Stahl, made statements to the Conviction Integrity Bureau when questioned in 2019 that tend to support the alleged use of coercive tactics in Bush’s case. He also made statements displaying racial bias against African Americans, including derogatory statements about Bush and Watson. Stahl currently resides in a private enclave in Yaphank that is owned by the German American Settlement League (“GASL”) and is a former GASL board member.

The new forensic evidence, facts related to Stahl, and recent scientific research that highlights juveniles’ particular vulnerability to false confessions collectively support the conclusion that Bush’s confession was materially false.

3. Maxine Bell’s Recantation Should be Credited

In the 44 years since Watson’s murder, not one witness has ever corroborated Bell’s later-recanted statement and testimony that she was at the Jackson house on the night of the party. In March 2019, prosecutors and investigators from the CIB met with Bell at her workplace. Bell stated that when she was questioned by police in 1975, police told her at the outset of the interrogation they knew Bush had killed Watson, and asserted that Bell was hiding information she knew about the circumstances of the murder. Bell claims to have repeatedly told them that she was not at the party and knew nothing about the murder. After several hours of questioning, Bell relented and made up a story that she believed was what the police wanted to hear based on information she had pieced together from the police and conversations with others about the murder earlier that day.

The investigation concluded that Bell’s recantation of her trial testimony should be credited, which provides an additional reason to vacate Bush’s conviction.

4. Other Evidence Fails to Support the Guilty Verdict

The Fiber Evidence Presented to the Jury was Unreliable: Among the evidence presented at Bush’s trial in 1976 was an analysis of fibers found underneath Watson’s fingernails by a Suffolk County Police detective that concluded the fibers matched those of a jean jacket Bush was wearing on the night of the murder. A fiber analysis expert currently employed by the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory assisted with the CIB’s investigation and concluded that even if the fibers matched a jean jacket, there is no way to establish with certainty that the fibers came from one particular jean jacket, and that the claim of a match was not supported by current forensic science.

DNA Evidence Tends to Support Exoneration: The recent DNA testing of evidence that resulted in extraction of male DNA, including DNA taken from Watson’s fingernail scrapings, has all excluded Bush as a contributor, and no male DNA found at the crime scene has been found to include Bush.

Bush’s Alibi Witnesses Affirm Those Alibis Now: Bush supplied the names and affidavits of several witnesses who would have supported his defense but did not out of fear of the Suffolk County Police Department. The CIB evaluated the affidavits, interviewed witnesses, and concluded that Bush’s alibi witnesses, some of whom were afraid to testify as a result of pressure from the assigned officers, continued to support his account of his whereabouts on the night of the murder. This provides further support for vacating the conviction.  

Tuesday
May212019

NYS Lawmakers Pass Bill To Weaken Presidential Pardon Powers

NBC News

BREAKING: N.Y. lawmakers pass bill to weaken Trump’s pardon powers

New York state lawmakers passed a measure on Tuesday that would allow prosecutors to pursue state charges against certain individuals even if they have received a presidential pardon — a move seen as a direct shot at President Donald Trump.

New York law currently bars the state from prosecuting a person who has already been tried for the same crime by the federal government. The bill would make it easier for prosecutors in certain circumstances to pursue a case against someone who has received a presidential pardon for the federal conviction. The bill is backed by N.Y. Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating Trump and his family members, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has indicated he will sign the legislation.

Read More

Monday
May202019

Attention Homeowners - Changes To Wastewater Practices

 

SUFFOLK HEALTH OFFICIALS OUTLINE CHANGES TO WASTEWATER PRACTICES TO TAKE EFFECT ON JULY 1, 2019

Cesspools, outlawed in new construction since 1973, will no longer be allowed as replacements for old cesspools.

Homeowners are not required to replace existing systems, but voluntary replacements must meet 1973 standards for new systems.

For the first time, replacement of existing cesspools or septic systems will require filing of registrations with health department.

As part of a broad, multi-pronged effort to combat nitrogen pollution of groundwater and local bays, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services is preparing to implement changes to the Suffolk County Sanitary Code which were approved in 2017 and will take effect on July 1, 2019, Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said today. Though new code provisions do not require that homeowners make any changes to existing systems, they do require that when homeowners choose to replace existing cesspools and septic systems, the new systems meet the same minimum standards that have been required for entirely new systems since 1973. For the first time, replacement of existing cesspools and septic systems will require registration of the new system with the Department of Health Services.

“These changes, unanimously approved by the Suffolk County Board of Health and supported by the Long Island Builders Institute, will close a loophole in the Sanitary Code that has existed for decades,” Commissioner Tomarken noted. “The use of cesspools in new construction has been outlawed in Suffolk County since 1973. Because the regulations did not address replacement systems, however, owners of cesspools had been able to simply replace a failed cesspool with another cesspool, rather than adding a septic tank to comply with the code requirements for new systems. That loophole will close on July 1, and health department staff has been working to create a streamlined process designed to make it easy for homeowners to comply with the new requirements.”

Beginning on July 1, 2019, when property owners determine that their systems need to be replaced or retrofitted, approval for the replacement or retrofit must be obtained from the health department. Approval can be obtained through the submission of an electronic registration form completed by the licensed liquid waste contractor hired by a homeowner to replace an existing cesspool or septic system. The new system must conform to current standards, which require, at a minimum, a septic tank preceding a leaching structure. The changes are codified in Article 6 of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code.

The health department has established a streamlined regulatory process to implement the new requirements.  Licensed liquid waste contractors can initially notify the department of their intent to replace or retrofit a property owner’s existing cesspool or septic system through a dedicated county web portal athttp://ship.suffolkcountyny.gov. Once the work is completed, contractors must submit documentation indicating the system components installed. Health department staff will be available to assist licensed liquid waste contractors to address any issues related to the installation of a replacement or system retrofit. Homeowners may also voluntarily install innovative, onsite wastewater-treatment systems, which are designed to reduce nitrogen pollution, as an alternative to the use of a conventional septic system when replacing an existing cesspool or septic system.

Cesspools and septic systems have been identified as the primary source of nitrogen pollution that contributes to harmful algal blooms, beach closures and fish kills that have become increasingly common over the past decade. Currently, 75 percent of Suffolk County is unsewered, with approximately 360,000 residential onsite sewage disposal systems.  Approximately 250,000 of these systems are cesspools, which discharge raw, untreated human waste and can contaminate surface and groundwater sources and contribute to harmful algal blooms.

Installation of a complete conventional septic system, consisting of a septic tank and leaching structure, can typically range from $6,000 to $8,000 per installation. Innovative alternative onsite wastewater systems (IA/OWTS) installations have an average cost of $19,500  for a standard site. Suffolk County is currently offeringincentives of up to $30,000 to homeowners who opt to replace their current wastewater systems with innovative advanced treatment systems under the Suffolk County Septic Improvement Program and New York State’s Septic System Replacement Program, administered by  the Suffolk County Health Department.

“Over the past few years, the county has made historic progress in the effort to address longstanding concerns about the environmental impacts that result from the reliance on cesspools and septic systems,” said Dr. Tomarken. “The changes that will become effective on July 1 are another step forward, but homeowners should be aware that these changes do not include any requirement that a property owner upgrade or replace a functioning system. The new requirements are triggered when an existing system must be replaced or a homeowner chooses to upgrade their system.”

For more information about the new requirements and to learn more about the County’s Septic Improvement Program, homeowners can visit thewww.reclaimourwater.info or contact the Department of Health Services Office of Ecology by email at septicdemo@suffolkcountyny.gov or by phone at (631)852-5811. 

Overview of 2017 Article 6 Amendments Regarding the Elimination of In-kind Cesspool Replacement

Monday
May202019

Schumer-Commerce Dept. Needs To Investigate MTA Contract With Chinese Company

 

SCHUMER: CHINESE STATE-OWNED COMPANY IS SELLING TRAIN CONTROL, WI-FI & OTHER TECH EQUIP TO AMERICAN SUBWAY SYSTEMS & WORKING WITH THE MTA; SENATOR CALLS ON COMMERCE DEPT. TO INVESTIGATE WHETHER CHINESE STATE-OWNED TECH POSES THREAT OR EXPOSES NATIONAL SECURITY VULNERABILITIES ACROSS TRANSIT

In March Of 2018, MTA Selected 8 Winners Of An “MTA Genius Transit Challenge”— One Of Those Winners Happened To Be A Chinese State-Owned Enterprise, CRRC; Despite Having No Existing Contract, CRRC Dumped $50 Million Of Its “Own Money” To Win & Develop A New Subway Car For MTA & NYC Transit

Chinese Company Is Touted For Installation Of “Modern Train Control Tech” That Schumer Says—Especially Now—Demands Immediate Review By Commerce Dept.; Feds Must Help MTA & Others Determine Any Risks Like Hacking, Vulnerability To Cyber-Warfare & More

Schumer: Mass Transit Tech Is More And More Susceptible To Nefarious Acts; Feds Must Ensure U.S. Transit Agencies — Like The MTA – Are Never Compromised   

 

Amidst rising trade tensions with China, an ever-increasing threat of cyberattacks, and a new White House order that restricts Chinese firms from business operations in the United States because of national security concerns, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer demanded, today, that the U.S. Department of Commerce thoroughly investigate a Chinese State-Owned firm, CRRC, working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Schumer said the Chinese State-owned company has an aim to install new tech in the New York subway system and that the feds must determine any threat this might pose to the MTA and its commuters. Schumer also said Commerce must help other cities’ mass transit systems already knee-deep in business with CRRC, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston.

“Given what we know about how cyberwarfare works, and recent attacks that have hit transportation and infrastructure hubs across the country, the Department of Commerce must give the green light and thoroughly check any proposals or work China’s CRRC does on behalf of the New York subway system, including our signals, Wi-Fi and more,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. 

China’s CRRC, the state-owned railway corporation, is building rail cars for some of America’s biggest cities. Citing CRRC contracts in America’s big cities, like Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston; as well as new partnerships with cities like Washington and New York City, Schumer says the Department of Commerce must investigate whether CRRC’s technology and involvement poses a threat to the MTA and the other U.S. mass transit systems across the country. 

“This kind of national security responsibility is just so big, and so complex, that the MTA and other big-city transit systems should not have to foot the burden of going at it alone to assess whether or not CRRC’s low bids for work, and current contracts across the country, are part of some larger strategy. We just cannot be too careful here, especially now, amidst these tensions and general cyber threats,” Schumer added.

The state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. (CRRC) has already been awarded contracts to build rail cars for some of the biggest cities in the U.S., including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Many argue that the company has been able to secure such deals by significantly underbidding competitors with the help of subsidies from the Chinese government. Currently, CRRC is pursuing a $500 million Washington D.C. metro car contract while keeping its eyes on New York in pursuit of  a roughly $4 billion contract with the MTA.

On May 23, 2017, the State announced that the MTA would launch the “MTA Genius Transit Challenge,” a grant program that challenged companies and individuals to develop innovative solutions to improve New York City’s subway system. On March 9, 2018, MTA announced that China’s CRRC was one of the winners of that grant program, as the company invested $50 million of ‘its own funds’ to develop a new subway car for MTA’s transit system, despite the absence of any current or ongoing procurements. This railcar would include modern train control technology, Wi-Fi, and other systems that could be susceptible to cyber-attacks, hacking, or left vulnerable to backdoors in key systems, according to the MTA.

After winning the MTA challenge, CRRC said, “We are honored and excited to have been chosen for the MTA’s Genius Transit Challenge. We look forward to introducing CRRC’s design philosophy focused on accelerating the pace subway vehicles are procured and deployed to the New York transit system.”

The Pew Research Center reported in 2018 that state and local government agencies have become increasingly susceptible to cyberattacks — especially in the sector of public transportation. In 2016, the public transit system in San Francisco endured a ransomware attack from hackers who demanded $70,000. The Sacramento Regional Transit was hit with a similar attack the following year. In 2018, the Colorado Department of Transportation was forced to shut down 2,000 computers following two ransomware attacks. Security officials and experts have pointed to China as a possible source of these attacks.

In light of the growing cybersecurity threats to public transit systems in the U.S., Schumer says it is particularly alarming that CRRC is so broadly winning contracts that provide intimate access to U.S. transit systems. He says CRRC’s involvement in the operations of the NYC Subway System demand the Department of Commerce fully examine –from top-to-bottom—the impact such involvement can have on America’s and New York’s vibrant rail supply sector, which in New York alone contributes over $3 billion in GDP to the state’s economy every year and supports over 5,000 jobs.

Schumer says, a now-deleted tweet posted by CRRC, lays out the concerns perfectly. It read: “So far 83% of all rail products in the world are operated by #CRRC or are CRRC ones. How long will it take for us conquering the remaining 17%?”

Thursday
May162019

Man Sentenced To 42 Years In Prison For Child Rape

DA SINI: BRENTWOOD MAN SENTENCED TO 42 YEARS IN PRISON FOR RAPING CHILD IN 2011 & 2012

(RIVERHEAD, N.Y.) – Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini today announced the sentencing of a Brentwood man to 42 years in prison for raping a child who was under 10 years old in 2011 and 2012.

“It took a tremendous amount of courage for this young victim to first come forward about the horrifying sexual abuse committed by this defendant, and then to testify against him at trial,” District Attorney Sini said. “Thanks to the victim’s bravery and the great work of Assistant District Attorney Eric Aboulafia, this individual is now going to spend 42 years in prison, where he cannot victimize any other children. This was an outstanding result that serves justice for the victim.”

Jose Cruz, 52, was found guilty by a jury trial on March 7 of three counts of Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, a B violent felony; three counts of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, a D violent felony; and Endangering the Welfare of a Child, an A misdemeanor.

On three separate occasions during the winter season between 2011 and 2012, Cruz engaged in sexual conduct with a child who was under 10 years old at the time.

The victim disclosed the sexual abuse to a family member in August 2018 and the family notified police.

Cruz was arrested on Aug. 15, 2018, and confessed to sexually abusing the victim. He also wrote an apology letter to the victim.

Cruz’s trial began on Feb. 27 and lasted approximately one week. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning a verdict of guilty.

Cruz was sentenced today by Acting Suffolk County Court Judge Karen M. Wilutis to 42 years in prison with 20 years of post-release supervision.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Eric Aboulafia, of the Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Bureau.

Thursday
May162019

LI Teacher Pleads Guilty To Transportation and Possession Of Child Pornography

Joseph Zanco, a teacher at Massapequa High School, pleaded guilty today at the federal courthouse in Central Islip to transportation and possession of child pornography.  The proceeding was held before United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco.  When sentenced, Zanco faces a mandatory minimum of five years’ and a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment, as well as forfeiture and a fine of up to $250,000.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York, announced the guilty plea.

In April 2018, while a teacher at Massapequa High School, Zanco began uploading hundreds of images of child pornography to the cloud-based Google Drive storage feature of his Google account.  In accordance with its policies and federal law, Google flagged these uploads, suspended the defendant’s account, and notified law enforcement authorities.  Federal prosecutors and agents then obtained search warrants and recovered from Zanco’s Google account the same child pornography Google had reported, as well as additional images and videos containing child pornography from Zanco’s laptop computer and cell phone. 

“Zanco now faces years in prison for victimizing children by possessing and transporting images of minors being sexually abused, at the same time he was employed as a teacher and entrusted with the safety and well-being of students,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The protection of innocent children is a priority for this Office and our law enforcement partners.  We will continue to make every effort to ensure that those who contribute to the victimization of children are brought to justice.”  Mr. Donoghue extended his grateful appreciation to ICE-HSI’s Child Exploitation Group for its investigative work and assistance. 

This prosecution is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorney Michael R. Maffei is in charge of the prosecution. 

 

Wednesday
May152019

John Kennedy Kicks Off Campaign At Watermill Caterers

Over 300 supporters and sponsors turned out at the  Watermill Caterers in Smithtown on May 13 to support John M. Kennedy, who officially kicked off his campaign to run against Steve Bellone for Suffolk County Executive. In a press release Kennedy’s campaign says it expects to net over $100,000 from the event.

Kennedy served as a Suffolk County Legislator for 10 years before running  and winning an underdog campaign for Suffolk County Comptroller in 2014. He won a second term in 2018 beating out  challenger Jay Schneiderman by 3,042 votes.

Kennedy believes that Suffolk County is in a fiscal crisis which has resulted in the Bellone administration ignoring some of the basic services that government needs to deliver for its people. “The first and most egregious example is the county’s infrastructure. The current administration has borrowed and spent so much, amassing an operational deficit of nearly $900 million, that they left no money to fix the crumbling infrastructure.” As a result of the massive debt, he says Bellone invented a “fee and fine” system of trying to raise money. Imposing massive mortgage recording fees, a bag fee, a cremation fee and even a “false alarm” fee, Mr. Bellone has punished taxpayers and small business owners, forcing people to flee the county and the state.

Kennedy pledged to work with businesses, big and small, to help them grow and succeed which will create more employment opportunities for our next generation. “When we get in in January, we will revolutionize county government,” he said. “We will restore the pride, [and] we will recognize the value of our workforce…  We will cover this county from end to end, we will outwork, we will outhustle and we will prevail.” Kennedy urged everyone to come out on November 5th and vote to #SaveSuffolk by voting for John Kennedy for Suffolk County Executive on either the Republican, Conservative or Independence lines. For more information about the campaign, please visit www.johnkennedyforsuffolk.com.

Wednesday
May152019

Empire State Development Will Host Meeting At Town Hall To Explain CFA

 

NEW YORK IS THE STATE OF OPPORTUNITY!
Information Session With Empire State Development

(SMITHTOWN, NY:)  On Monday, May 20th local organizations, businesses and real estate developers are invited to attend an information session with representatives from Empire State Development at Smithtown Town Hall, from 9:00AM – 10:30AM.  Empire State Development will meet with non-profits, businesses, and local municipalities in Smithtown to provide constituents & town/village officials, businesses and real estate developers with an overview of the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA).    

 “This is a very important meeting for local chambers, civics and similar organizations to attend. It will give perspective and guidance on the CFA grants program, answer common questions and hopefully inspire ideas for grant applications.” Supervisor Ed Wehrheim

New York State provides grant funding to support economic development on Long Island. Empire State Development will present to Smithtown organizations in order to best clarify and explain the various types of funding available. They will also walk through the application process.  

Visit the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council’s website at http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/long-island for more information on grants available, including information on The Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and to learn if your project qualifies for assistance.

regionalcouncils.ny.gov
Learn about the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council including their leadership team, news from the region, and their projects.