WESTBURY

A Westbury man who races pigeons pleaded guilty Wednesday to trapping and killing federally-protected hawks that he viewed as a threat to his birds, said federal prosecutors and wildlife officials.

Thomas Kapusta, 63, could get up to 30 months in prison and a fine of up to $75,000 at his May 13 sentencing on one count of conspiracy to take, capture and kill red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks and four counts of taking, capturing and killing those hawks.

At his plea in a Hartford federal court, Kapusta recounted how he and another racing pigeon enthusiast kept a large number of the birds in a coop they built in Stamford, said Deirdre M. Daly, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, and Honora Gordon, a special agent in charge with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Their pigeons were let out regularly so they could exercise and the two pigeon afficonados saw the hawks, who eat such birds as part of their natural diet, as a threat, federal prosecutors said.

Using traps designed to capture birds of prey, the two “systematically” trapped the hawks, which are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and shot them in the traps, officials said.

Kapusta pleaded guilty to killing and disposing the birds of prey last year on Sept. 2 and 8 and Oct. 14 and 21, authorities said.

The red-tailed hawk is the most common type of North American hawk and its scream is so dramatic that Hollywood uses it as the voice of other raptors, the federal wildlife service said.

Cooper’s hawks range throughout the U.S. but its numbers have fallen over the decades due to pesticides, the Audubon Society said.

ELLEN YAN

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FREEPORT

A West Babylon man who twice pointed a BB gun at another driver refused to pull over for police before running a red light and crashing into two other vehicles in Freeport late Tuesday, Nassau County police said.

Daniel Longo, 26, faces charges of menacing, possession of a dangerous weapon, reckless driving and several traffic violations after he drove through a red light and crashed at Merrick Road and Henry Street at about 11:35 p.m., police said in a news release.

The crash was preceded by Longo tapping the rear of another car while driving westbound on the Southern State Parkway near Exit 13, Central Avenue, at about 10:45 p.m., police said.

A man, 35, driving on the parkway said after a dark-colored vehicle tapped his vehicle he pulled off on Linden Boulevard. The other driver “pulled alongside the victim’s car and pointed a black handgun,” the release said.

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The man tried to drive away from the suspect but he was followed, with the suspect again pointing a handgun at him on Elmont Road near West Merrick Road.

At the intersection of West Merrick Road and South Franklin Avenue in Valley Stream, the victim was able to report to a Fifth Precinct officer that he was being followed. The officer saw the suspect’s car, a 1999 Hyundai Tiburon, and attempted to pull it over, but the suspect refused to stop, police said.

With the officer following the Hyundai east on Merrick Road, the suspect drove through a red light at Henry Street in Freeport, where he crashed into two other vehicles before he was arrested.

Neither Longo, the driver who was tapped from behind on the parkway, nor the two drivers in the crash was injured, police said.

Police said they recovered a black Phantom BB 4.5-mm handgun from inside Longo’s car.

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Longo, of 14th Street in West Babylon, is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday at First District Court in Hempstead.

GARY DYMSKI