Long Island scandals and sensational stories

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From murder in the Hamptons to LIRR disability fraud cases, Long Island has had its fair share of scandals -- some of which have become national news. Have a suggestion for a scandal that we've missed? Send an email to josh.stewart@newsday.com.

Seacrest Diner rampage

On Memorial Day weekend 1982, five men from
(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

On Memorial Day weekend 1982, five men from Brooklyn started on a two-day rampage that culminated in approximately 80 people being held hostage at the Seacrest Diner Restaurant in Old Westbury. On Friday, police said Bruce Garrison, James Martin, Robert Samuels and brothers Michael and Robert Williams stole a Cadillac from a Brooklyn garage. Later that night, the men invaded the Plainview home of Thomas and Janet Reilly. The five men raped, beat, robbed and urinated on guests at a party hosted by the couple's 20-year-old son. Their crime spree culminated on Saturday as the men burst into the Seacrest Diner wielding handguns and shotguns. They terrorized approximately 80 patrons and staff members, robbing them, demanding they strip and ordering hostages to have sex with each other. Two men were shot and at least one waitress was raped. Robert Williams plead guilty to more than 100 felonies and received a sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison. Garrison and Michael Williams were also given 15 to 30 year sentences. Martin and Samuels were given life in prison after police connected them with a prior murder. -- Compiled by Sara-Megan Walsh

Horton Road murder

Known locally as
(Credit: Newsday / Dick Yarwood)

Known locally as "Hell on Horton Road," the death of Kelly Ann Tinyes two days before her 14th birthday divided a Valley Stream community. On March 3, 1989, Tinyes was last seen alive entering the home of John and Elizabeth Golub after receiving a phone call from someone at the house. Her 8-year-old brother, who she was babysitting at the time, said the caller identified himself as "John." Once inside, Tinyes was beaten, stabbed and strangled to death. Inside the house at the time of the murder were: Robert, the Golub's oldest son, younger son, John, then a freshman at Hewlett High, and two of John's friends, according to police. Robert Golub was charged and pleaded not guilty, but was convicted by jury of second-degree murder and sentenced to serve 25 years to life in prison. Transcripts from Golub's 2013 parole board hearing showed that he accepted responsibility for her death during his failed bid for release after years of denying his involvement. Above, Victoria Tinyes the victim's mother, and John Golub yell in the hallway of Nassau County District Court in Mineola during a hearing on charges of harassment filed against Robert Golub's father, John Golub Sr., on Aug. 12, 1993.

-- Compiled by Sara-Megan Walsh

Illegal dumping in Islip parks

The Town of Islip parks department found itself
(Credit: John Roca)

The Town of Islip parks department found itself buried under toxic waste in April 2014. An investigation by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota revealed more than 40,000 tons of contaminated construction and demolition debris has been illegally dumped on four sites from 2012 to 2014: town-owned Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, a six-home subdivision in Islandia for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, a one-acre lot on Islip Avenue in Central Islip, and state-protected wetland area off Brook Avenue in Deer Park. Roberto Clemente Park has been closed for more than two years as a result of the illegal dumping. Joseph J. Montuori Jr., former Islip Town parks commissioner, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and endangering public health, safety or the environment while his former secretary Brett Robinson pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. Thomas Datre Jr. and his company, 5 Brothers Farming Corp., pleaded guilty to four felonies related to the dumping. Ronald Cianciullo, owner of Atlas Asphalt, was found guilty after a bench trial for helping Datre. Christopher Grabe, of Islandia Recycling, pleaded guilty to two dumping-related felonies and agreed to help with cleanup of the Central Islip property.

-- Compiled by Sara-Megan Walsh

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Amityville horror

On Nov. 13, 1974, six members of the
(Credit: Newsday)

On Nov. 13, 1974, six members of the DeFeo family - Ronald Sr., 43, his wife, Louise, 42, and their children, Dawn, 18, Allison, 13, Mark, 11, and John, 9 - were found dead in their Amityville home. The DeFeo's oldest child, Ronald Jr., then 23, eventually confessed to the killings. He was given six sentences of 25 years to life - one for each murder - which he is serving concurrently in an upstate New York prison. The events, as well as hauntings reported by the next residents of the so-called "Amityville Horror" house, have inspired several works of fiction.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

1993 LIRR shooting

Colin Ferguson, of Kingston, Jamaica, opened fire in
(Credit: AP)

Colin Ferguson, of Kingston, Jamaica, opened fire in an LIRR train on Dec. 7, 1993, at the Merillon Avenue station in Garden City. Two passengers jumped Ferguson as he tried to reload his gun, but not before he killed six people and injured 19 others. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband, Dennis, was killed and son, Kevin, injured, became a gun control activist as a result of the shooting. When incumbent Rep. Dan Frisa voted to repeal the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1996 - a repeal that was ultimately unsuccessful - McCarthy decided to switch parties and run against the Republican incumbent in New York's 4th Congressional District. She won the race and stayed on Capitol Hill until stepping down in 2015.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Shoreham nuclear power plant

The saga of the failed Shoreham nuclear power
(Credit: Daniel Brennan)

The saga of the failed Shoreham nuclear power plant spanned decades and cost Long Islanders billions of dollars. It began in 1965 when the Long Island Lighting Co. announced plans to build a nuclear plant in Suffolk. It was soon resolved that the plant would open in Shoreham by 1973 at a cost between $65 million and $75 million. However, several missteps along the way derailed the plan. LILCO was overly ambitious, buying land for a second plant in Lloyd Harbor, increasing the size of the Shoreham location and planning for two more plants in Jamesport that never came to fruition. The moves garnered significant criticism, delayed the timetable and increased costs. The Suffolk Legislature's 15-1 vote in 1983 that the county could not be safely evacuated in the event of an accident was a death knell for the project. The plant was completed a year later, but in 1989 Gov. Mario Cuomo and LILCO chairman William J. Catacosinos signed off permanently closing it. However, the agreement left ratepayers responsible for most of the cost, which by 1994 had ballooned to $6 billion.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Thomas Hoey Jr.

Former Long Island Banana Co. owner Thomas Hoey
(Credit: Victor Alcorn)

Former Long Island Banana Co. owner Thomas Hoey Jr., of Garden City, is serving nearly 20 years in prison for three different crimes. He was first sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in February 2015 for evidence tampering and assaulting his girlfriend. The next month, he was sentenced to 12 1/2 years for drug distribution and obstruction of justice. Kim Calo, of Glenwood Landing, died of an overdose at a 2009 Manhattan sex party Hoey held. When Calo began foaming at the mouth, Hoey insisted she didn't need medical assistance, and then tried to hide his role in the incident. Finally, Hoey was given a 5 1/2 sentence in July 2016 for pension fraud for stealing $750,000 in worker retirement money.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Prison guard baby

Nancy Gonzalez, of Huntington, went from prison guard
(Credit: Charles Eckert)

Nancy Gonzalez, of Huntington, went from prison guard to prison inmate in 2013 when she pleaded guilty to having sex with a death row inmate. Ronell Wilson was being held at Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where Gonzalez worked, in 2012 when the two conceived a child. Wilson was convicted in 2006 for the murder of two NYPD officers in 2003 and at the time was awaiting a penalty trial after his death sentence was overturned. Gonzalez gave birth to her child, Justus, in March 2013. She pleaded guilty that July and in February 2014 was sentenced to a year and a day in jail. Wilson was sentenced to death for a second time the same month of Gonzalez's plea, but a federal judge struck down the sentence in March 2016 because IQ tests showed Wilson's mental capacity was not at a level that would allow him to be executed.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

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Katie Beers kidnapping

To say Katie Beers had a terrible childhood
(Credit: Newsday / Ken Spencer)

To say Katie Beers had a terrible childhood is a vast understatement. Her mother, Marilyn, essentially gave her up to her godmother, Linda Inghilleri, when she was just a few weeks old. By age 6, Beers was running errands for the family when she should've been in school. She was also sexually abused by Inghilleri's husband, Sal, who was convicted in 1994 and died in prison in 2009. All this, before the age of 10. And then, Beers disappeared.

On Dec. 28, 1992, family friend John Esposito kidnapped Beers, chaining her in a small bunker under his Bay Shore home. Police checked Esposito's house multiple times and eventually found the bunker, which was concealed by a trap door. On Jan. 13, 1993, Beers was freed. Esposito pleaded guilty in 1994 to kidnapping, receiving a sentence of 15 years to life.

After the incident, Beers lived with a foster family in East Hampton. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. Esposito died of natural causes related to heart disease in 2013 while in prison. Transcripts reveal that Esposito admitted to sexually abusing Beers, which he previously denied, during her captivity.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Rebecca Koster mutilation

Evans Ganthier, of Port Jefferson Station, met Rebecca
(Credit: Handout)

Evans Ganthier, of Port Jefferson Station, met Rebecca Koster, 24, of Medford, at a Holbrook bar on Dec. 4, 2009, before he brought her back to his house and fatally stabbed her. He then cut off her fingers, toes, nose, ears and tattoos before taking her body to Connecticut and burning it. Ganthier said Koster died after tripping over dumbbells and hitting her head in his garage, and that he mutilated her body to hide her identity. To that end, he also pretended to be Koster, using her phone to text Koster's mother and claim that she was alive and being held captive in her boyfriend's basement. Ganthier was sentenced in 2013 to the maximum sentence of 25 years to life.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Medford pharmacy shooting

David Laffer walked into Haven Drugs in Medford
(Credit: Suffolk County Sheriff)

David Laffer walked into Haven Drugs in Medford on Father's Day 2011 with a .45-caliber handgun hidden inside a backpack. He intended to rob the pharmacy for pills his sick wife needed but could no longer afford. However, in addition to the more than 10,000 pills he stole, Laffer killed two pharmacy employees and two customers who entered the store during the robbery. He said he didn't plan on killing anyone, but later said "right" when it was suggested that his intent was to leave no witnesses. Less than six months later, Laffer was sentenced to life in prison and his wife, Melissa Brady, who assisted Laffer, was sentenced to 25 years.

Since then, two doctors have been convicted of illegally prescribing painkillers to Laffer and other patients. Stan Xuhui Li, of New Jersey, was sentenced in 2014 to 10 2/3 to 20 years in prison for prescribing oxycodone and other drugs, and causing the deaths of two patients, including one from Long Island. In 2016, Eric Jacobson, of Great Neck, was sentenced to eight years in prison for prescribing narcotic painkillers.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Marcelo Lucero stabbing

On Nov. 8, 2008, seven teenagers went out
(Credit: Seedworks Films)

On Nov. 8, 2008, seven teenagers went out in Patchogue looking to attack Latinos. They came upon Ecuadorean immigrants Marcelo Lucero and Angel Loja near the Patchogue train station, surrounding the pair and attacking them both verbally and physically. Lucero, 37, was fatally stabbed in the incident. Jeffrey Conroy, who stabbed Lucero, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime. The other six teens were all sentenced to between 5 and 8 years for their involvement.

Lucero's death came to the forefront in 2016 when Donald Trump appeared at a fundraiser in Patchogue near where Lucero died ahead of New York's Republican presidential primary. A group of immigration advocates led by Lucero's brother, Joselo, spoke out against Trump, who had proposed policies such as building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. On April 14, 2016, a vigil was held for Lucero near where he died as Trump made his appearance down the street. Trump later said he was not aware of Lucero's death at the time, but Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay LaValle said he told Trump about it before his appearance on stage at the event.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

James Burke assault cover-up

On Dec. 14, 2012, Suffolk County police officers
(Credit: Ed Betz)

On Dec. 14, 2012, Suffolk County police officers arrested Christopher Loeb and charged him with stealing a duffel bag from the sport utility vehicle of Suffolk Police Chief James Burke. Less than three years later, Burke resigned in October 2015, and on Dec. 9, 2015, federal agents arrested him on his driveway charging him in the assault on Loeb while he was in custody, and then staging a departmentwide cover-up of the assault. Chief Burke was among the officers who arrested Loeb, who was about 26 at the time, at his Smithtown home and took him to the Fourth Precinct in 2012. A bail letter said that Burke asked the other officers to leave the room where Loeb was being held and then punched him in the face. The indictment against Burke charged that the former chief conspired with other officers to provide false testimony under oath and to withhold information from federal investigators about the assault. Burke is no stranger to controversy -- a 1995 Suffolk police internal affairs report said police Sgt. Burke, who was then assigned to the First Precinct, engaged in sexual acts in his police vehicle with Lowrita Rickenbacker, a felon convicted of prostitution. A news report said it was not clear how or if Burke was disciplined. Burke, who was 51 at the time, pleaded guilty on Feb. 26, 2016, to violating Loeb's civil rights and the subsequent cover-up. He could spend up to 4 years and 3 months in prison as part of the plea deal.
-Compiled by Kayla Dwyer

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Suffolk land and zoning corruption

In what came to be known as
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

In what came to be known as "the Suffolk scandals," a Newsday investigative team began in 1967 to uncover a series of land rezonings granted to politicians with hidden financial interests in the land. Newsday reporters Bob Greene, Alan Eysen, and Ray Larsen led the team with the blessing of Art Perfall, then-Suffolk editor. Perfall succeeded Kirk Price, who died in early 1967. That September, the team's first story implicated Price and Islip Councilman Donald Kuss in profiting from the development of an airport for Islip. Their stories focusing on Brookhaven in 1968 revealed that Councilmen George Fuchs and Clarence Hough were involved in private firms that profited $700,000 from working on the Smith Haven Mall construction. In 1969, the team questioned Babylon Republican leader Fred Fellman's operation in his trailer park. Fellman later pleaded guilty to grand larceny. Newsday won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1970 for those three years of investigation. Fellman made an appearance at Newsday's celebration, just before going to jail, to insist that they could not have done it without him.
-- Compiled by Kayla Dwyer

School district cheating in Glen Cove

The Glen Cove City School District was hit
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

The Glen Cove City School District was hit with two cheating scandals in the 2011-12 academic year. The first involved fifth-grade math and English tests at Connolly and Landing elementary schools in the spring of 2012. Several teachers were accused of supplying students with correct answers, darkening answer forms for them and urging students to reconsider their answers. The other occurred at Glen Cove High School, where a student's failing Regents grade was changed to passing.

Two administrators and six teachers were fined a total of $144,522 in connection to both incidents, according to state records. Michael Tweed, coordinator of pupil personnel services at the district, alerted then-superintendent Joe Laria of the incident at Glen Cove High School. He was then denied tenure under new superintendent Maria Rianna despite previous positive employment evaluations and let go on June 30, 2014. However, Tweed returned to his position in January 2016 after an arbitrator's ruling that he was not properly evaluated before his dismissal, which was in violation of his contract. He was given back pay and benefits totaling nearly $250,000. Tweed also has a pending federal lawsuit that he was fired for being a whistle-blower.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Daniel Sheehan

Daniel Sheehan, of Deer Park, was a part-time

Daniel Sheehan, of Deer Park, was a part-time employee at The Home Depot in the fall of 2012 when he carried out a plan to extort his employer out of $2 million, in a plan involving the use of pipe bombs. Sheehan allegedly planted a bomb in the store's Huntington location and threatened to explode bombs on Black Friday in three Home Depot stores on Long Island if he wasn't paid. Sheehan was convicted of extortion and use of a destructive device during the commission of a felony a year later and in 2015, he was sentenced to 30 years and one month in prison.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Hofstra student killed

Det. Lt. John Azzata called it
(Credit: Paul Mazza; Handout)

Det. Lt. John Azzata called it "a crime of opportunity." According to police, about 2:20 a.m. on May 17, 2013, a resident of a Uniondale house of Hofstra University students left the front door open before getting his keys to move his car. In that time, Dalton Smith, an ex-convict from Hempstead who was wanted for violating parole, broke in. Smith took four students hostage, demanding money and jewelry. He ordered one of them to get money from a bank ATM, threatening to kill a hostage if she didn't return in eight minutes. The woman got into her car and called 911.

When the police arrived, Smith took Andrea Rebello, 21, of Tarrytown, hostage and attempted to exit the house. Upon seeing Officer Nikolas Budimlic, Smith, who had Rebello in a headlock and his gun pointed at her, aimed his gun at the officer while using Rebello as a shield. Budimlic fired eight bullets, killing both Smith and Rebello.

A Nassau district attorney's office review concluded in 2014 that Budimlic "acted accordingly" given the situation and wouldn't face criminal charges. The Rebello family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Nassau police later that year, accusing the department of failing to properly prepare officers for hostage situations and of having a history of not disciplining officers involved in deadly shootings. The family also filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in 2016 against Nassau County and police officials, saying that police conducted only a "cursory" probe into the shooting to protect the department from liability.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Gary Melius shot

Gary Melius, a real estate developer and political
(Credit: Melius family)

Gary Melius, a real estate developer and political power broker, was shot on the grounds of Oheka Castle, the Huntington hotel estate where he lived, on Feb. 24, 2014. Surveillance video released by police showed the masked gunman exit a Jeep Cherokee about 12:30 p.m. and approach Melius, who was sitting in his Mercedes-Benz, then firing through the driver's side window and walking back to the Jeep. Melius survived but sustained a head and eye injury.

No arrests have been reported since the shooting. A source said in 2014 that Thomas Melius, the son of Gary's wife, Pam, and who was adopted by Gary, was a "person of interest" in the shooting. Melius said at the time that he didn't believe his son was behind the shooting and that police should look at a political foe, about whom he sent information to investigators.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Dean and Adam Skelos

In May 2015, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos
Buy photo
(Credit: Charles Eckert)

In May 2015, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was Long Island's highest-ranking legislator and had been in office for 30 years. Within a year, he would lose all such distinctions in a corruption scandal that ended with him and his son, Adam, sentenced to prison stints. Dean and Adam Skelos were arrested on May 4, 2015, on corruption charges. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Dean Skelos pressured companies that needed legislative favors to give work to his son, who allegedly got pay and benefits worth $300,000. On Dec. 11, 2015, both Skeloses were found guilty of extortion, bribery and conspiracy. Dean Skelos lost his Senate seat upon his conviction, but remained eligible for an annual state pension of $95,000. On May 12, 2016, Dean Skelos was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Adam Skelos received a 6 1/2-year prison term.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

Kahlif House

Between February and June 2016, police say a
(Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Between February and June 2016, police say a knife-wielding bandit committed at least 27 robberies at stores and eateries across Queens, Nassau and Suffolk. They arrested the man they believe is responsible, Kahlif House, of Hempstead, on June 8, 2016. Police caught House after an hours-long manhunt that began when Bill O'Keefe, of Floral Park, woke up about 7 a.m. to find that House had broken into his home and was sleeping on his living room couch. O'Keefe called the police after confronting House, who escaped. His description matched that of the robber, so Nassau, NYPD and U.S. Marshals Service officers conducted a joint search using K-9 units and helicopters. At 11:14 a.m., police arrested House, who hiding in a van in a parking lot on Jericho Turnpike.

House proved elusive throughout the string of robberies, which authorities say he committed to fund his heroin addiction. His targets included mainly Dunkin' Donuts, Carvel, 7-11 and Subway stores. House's girlfriend and alleged getaway driver in some robberies Lisette Veltri, of Valley Stream, was also arrested. Veltri, who has no prior criminal record, was released after posting a $150,000 bond. House was held without bail and remains in custody.
-Compiled by Joe Diglio

The murder of a mayor

On the morning of Nov. 15, 1939, Long
(Credit: Long Beach Historical and Preservation Society)

On the morning of Nov. 15, 1939, Long Beach mayor Louis Edwards, right, emerged from his brick house on West Beach Street, when a cop stationed a few hundred feet away sauntered over and, after an exchange of greetings, opened fire on the mayor. Officer Alvin Dooley, left, was a Long Beach native whose pride and joy was being president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. Dooley held a personal vendetta against the mayor, whose bodyguard, James Walsh, beat him in the next election for PBA president. The night before the murder, Dooley was drinking heavily until 4 a.m., four hours before his shift at the corner of East Beech Street and Jackson Boulevard. The 47-year-old mayor died in a police car on the way to the hospital. The jury found Dooley guilty of second-degree manslaughter and for being armed with a dangerous weapon. He served 15 years, then returned to prison for child molestation and died there. The day of the shooting, the clock at City Hall was stopped at the time of the shooting, 10:10 a.m. Jackson Boulevard was then renamed Edwards Boulevard in his honor, and the police booth where Dooley had his shift has since been destroyed.
-Compiled by Kayla Dwyer

Ann and Billy Woodward

Around 3 a.m. the night of Oct. 30,
(Credit: AP)

Around 3 a.m. the night of Oct. 30, 1955, former actress Ann Woodward claimed she heard a burglar and fired two shots at a figure in the doorway of her husband's bedroom in their Oyster Bay home. The figure was not a burglar, but her husband, millionaire Billy Woodward. The Woodwards were a renowned racing family on the North Shore. William and Ann, slept in separate bedrooms with weapons by their beds in response to a recent wave of burglaries. The incident raised suspicions about Ann, who allegedly hired private investigators to follow her husband and a dozen women with whom she suspected he was cheating. Rumors also circulated that the Woodward family disapproved of the marriage. Before the grand jury, however, police produced a key witness -- the burglar who was in the Woodwards' house that night. Three weeks after the shooting, she was cleared. The story inspired two novels, Dominick Dunne's "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" and Truman Capote's "Answered Prayers." Capote's spin portrayed Ann's character as a murderer, which is what some say led her to take her own life in her Park Avenue home in 1975.

Jeffrey MacDonald

Army Green Beret doctor Jeffrey MacDonald, a former
(Credit: AP)

Army Green Beret doctor Jeffrey MacDonald, a former Patchogue athletic star, was convicted in 1979 for the 1970 murders of his pregnant wife, Colette, also of Patchogue, and their two daughters. The case, which imitated another sensational murder, became a media sensation, and was dramatized in "Fatal Vision," a best-selling crime novel and TV miniseries in the 1980s.
At the time of the gruesome Feb. 17, 1970, murders of Colette, 26, and their daughters Kimberly, 5, and Kristen, 2, at their Fort Bragg, N.C., apartment, MacDonald, 26, blamed it on a band of long-haired intruders who chanted "Acid is groovy" and "Kill the pigs." His explanation eerily echoed the deaths of actress Sharon Tate and four guests at her suburban Los Angeles home on Aug. 9, 1969, by members of the cultish Manson Family.
The Army charged MacDonald with the murders, but the charges were dropped after it completed a 90-page report and he was honorably discharged at the end of 1970. But dogged persistence and pressure from the family of Colette MacDonald, particularly her stepfather, Alfred Kassab, of Stony Brook, resulted in MacDonald's indictment on federal murder charges in 1975 and his conviction in 1979 on three counts of murder.
MacDonald has spent the past four decades appealing his conviction, including two to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled twice against him in the 1980s. MacDonald, now 72, still proclaims his innocence from the federal prison in Cumberland, Md., where he is serving three consecutive life sentences. He remarried while in prison in 2002.
IN THE PHOTO: Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald, charged with murder in the slaying of his wife and two children, heads to a hearing on July 7, 1970 into the charges against him at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
Compiled by Judy Weinberg

Suffolk County Southwest Sewer District

Suffolk County's $1 billion Southwest Sewer District was
(Credit: Newsday / Thomas R. Koeniges, 1973)

Suffolk County's $1 billion Southwest Sewer District was unequaled in Long Island history for delays, scandals and broken promises to taxpayers. The project began in 1962, and took 19 years to complete at a of about $700 million more than originally promised.
It was mired in controversy from the start. John Flynn, the county official who lead the project, at one point delivered a pro-sewer lecture in which he accused residents of preferring "to keep your body wastes in your backyards."
Despite conducting a nationwide search for a company to lead the project, the winner was a small, comparatively inexperienced firm in Melville, which was paid $54 million for the job $31 million of which was later found to have been based on fraudulent claims. The firm's owner, Charles Walsh, of Huntington, was later captured on videotape describing himself as "a natural-born master criminal, and was convicted of charges connected with channeling money from sewer contractors to key politicians.
In June 1979, a Suffolk grand jury indicted Flynn for lying about the project to a Suffolk grand jury. Within hours of being charged, Flynn agreed to tell-all, but before he can reveal the projects secrets, he is stabbed and killed by his girlfriend, Sue Thurber Quinn. Quinn later says she killed Flynn because he had cheated on her, not because of the sewer district scandal.
Ultimately, after hundreds of miles of installed pipes and torn up streets, Suffolk County's Southwest Sewer District opened in October 1981. Backlash from the sewer district project was so strong, all plans on the drawing board for other large sewer projects throughout the county simply died.
Compiled by Judy Weinberg

Jessica Hahn and Jim Bakker

On March 19, 1987, televangelist Jim Bakker resigned
(Credit: Newsday / David L. Pokress)

On March 19, 1987, televangelist Jim Bakker resigned as chairman of the 500,000 member PTL Ministry after allegations came to light that he and another evangelist had raped church secretary Jessica Hahn, pictured above, in a Florida hotel room. Hahn, originally from Massapequa, had made a secret agreement in 1985 to accept $265,000 from PTL in exchange for her silence about the incident. Bakker, who denied raping Hahn but admitted to having consensual sex, later claimed he had been blackmailed by Hahn, who went on to tell her story and pose nude in Playboy, for a reported million dollars. As for Bakker, in 1989, he was convicted on 24 federal fraud and conspiracy counts and sentenced to 45 years in prison in connection with overselling lifetime partnerships in Heritage USA. Bakker's sentence was eventually reduced and he left prison in 1994.
-Compiled by Laura Mann

Garbage crisis of the 1980s

After Long Island's landfills were identified as a
(Credit: Newsday / Daniel Sheehan, 1987)

After Long Island's landfills were identified as a major source of groundwater contamination in the 1980s, the state Legislature passed a law banning all landfilling by 1990. So what to do with LI's trash -- 80 percent of which was being dumped in landfills at the time? On March 22, 1987, 3,186 tons of Islip Town's discarded chicken bones, used diapers, Victoria's Secret catalogs and frayed underwear began the 6,000-mile odyssey to find cheap dumping sites down south. As the 240-foot-long, 72-foot-wide, 14-foot-deep barge sailed down the coast, it was followed by protests and ridicule, earning rejections from North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas and Florida as well as Cuba and Belize. Mexico said it would dispatch gunboats if the barge tried to approach the Yucatan Peninsula. On the "Tonight" show, Johnny Carson had an idea for the Captains tugboat, "Capt. St. Pierre: Do a U-e at Yemen ... a hard left at Oman, up into the Gulf of Persia and there is Iran. Dump it right there." After two months and plenty of press the beleaguered barge sailed into New York Harbor and sat anchored in Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn, for four months. There it became a tourist attraction. In August, disputing state and local officials finally agreed to burn the tonnage in Brooklyn and transport the ash back to the Islip Town landfill.
- Compiled by Judy Weinberg

The Joey and Amy Saga

On May 19, 1992, Amy Fisher, 17, arrived
(Credit: Newsday / Dick Yarwood)

On May 19, 1992, Amy Fisher, 17, arrived at the Massapequa home of auto body repair shop owner Joey Buttafuoco and confronted his wife, Mary Jo, saying Joey was having an affair with "her sister," when in reality it was her. Fisher shot Mary Jo in the head, leaving her in critical condition. The media dubbed Fisher the "Long Island Lolita" as the story went national. Fisher plead guilty to first-degree aggravated assault in December and spent 7 years in an upstate prison. That September, Vice President Al Gore ticked off his own Top 10 List of Good Things About Being Vice President and got the biggest laugh when he revealed his "Secret Service code name: Buttafuoco." Two months later, Buttafuoco was sentenced to 6 months in the Nassau County jail after pleading guilty to one count of statutory rape in the Fisher case. Ten years later, Joey and Mary Jo divorced, and Fisher married.
-Compiled by Judy Weinberg

John Spano and the Islanders

John Spano's attempt to buy the Islanders remains
(Credit: Newsday File / David L. Pokress)

John Spano's attempt to buy the Islanders remains one of the most bizarre scams in sports history. Spano, a Dallas businessman, agreed to buy the team from John Pickett for $165 million in 1996. In February 1997, the National Hockey League unanimously approved the sale of the team to Spano. Two months later, the sale closed as Pickett received $15 million from a Fleet Bank loan and a promise for millions more. When the millions weren’t paid, the NHL barred Spano from running the day-to-day operations of the team. In July 1997, Newsday obtained documents that revealed a trail of bounced checks and broken promises, which triggered a U.S. Justice Department probe into Spano's business dealings. By July 10, Spano gave up his claim to the Islanders and two weeks later was indicted in U.S. District Court in Uniondale on wire and fraud charges in the Islanders deal. Ownership of the team reverted back to Pickett. In October, Spano pleaded guilty in federal court to four counts of fraud lodged by Long Island and Texas prosecutors on charges of bank fraud not connected to the Islanders deal. In early January 2000, Spano was sentenced to 5 years, 11 months in prison on the four counts of fraud he pleaded guilty to in 1997. He was released from prison in June 2004.
-Compiled by Judy Weinberg

Suffolk police test cheating

In 1999, Suffolk Police Sgt. Brian Bugge, who
Buy photo
(Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas, 2014)

In 1999, Suffolk Police Sgt. Brian Bugge, who pleaded not guilty, faced an array of charges -- most of which ended up being thrown out of court -- for allegedly coaching police applicants on how to cheat the department's entrance test. Of 55 officers who faced dismissal for cheating, none were fired; the cases against 23 were dropped early on, and the toughest disciplinary actions against the other 32 were six-month suspensions. It was later determined that the exam itself, which tested an applicant's biographical information to create a colorblind test and promote racial diversity, lent itself to cheating.
-Compiled by Meghan Glynn

Murder in the Hamptons

Ted Ammon, an investment banker, was found beaten
(Credit: AP / Ed Betz, 2004)

Ted Ammon, an investment banker, was found beaten to death in October 2001 in his East Hampton estate, in a case that became the subject of immense media attention. After a lengthy investigation, Daniel Pelosi, pictured above to the left, who was a contractor that worked on the Ammon home and later married Ammon's widow Generosa, was convicted of Ammon's murder. Pelosi is still in prison, serving a sentence of 25 years to life, while Generosa died of cancer in August 2003.
-Compiled by Meghan Glynn

Massapequa High School baseball

In May 2003, 15 Massapequa High School varsity
(Credit: Newsday / Dick Yarwood)

In May 2003, 15 Massapequa High School varsity baseball players and two coaches were suspended after the district learned the players made a late-night journey to a Florida strip club during a spring break trip. The players had been taken to Sassy Merlot’s 2 in Cocoa Beach by a parent, during two hours of unsupervised time allowed by the school district. All but two of the players involved were underage. The teens were charged with insubordination, a violation of the school’s code of conduct. Longtime head coach Bob Dell, pictured, was fired a few weeks later.
-Compiled by Judy Weinberg

Mepham H.S. football hazing

In the summer of 2003 Bellmore's Wellington C.
(Credit: Nicole Bartoline)

In the summer of 2003 Bellmore's Wellington C. Mepham High School football team traveled to Pennsylvania for training camp, during which at least three students were hazed by their fellow teammates. The victims were sodomized with broomsticks, pinecones and golf balls. As a result, the team's 2003 football season was canceled and two of the three attackers were sentenced to juvenile detention centers in Pennsylvania in January 2004.

Long Island school embezzlements

In 2004 an audit uncovered an $11 million
(Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile)

In 2004 an audit uncovered an $11 million embezzlement scheme by Roslyn’s superintendent Frank Tassone and five other Roslyn school officials that eventually led to their being sentenced in connection with the scandal. The state comptroller's office later accused the district of wasting nearly $8 million through misspending and fraud. A few months after the Roslyn investigation began, a former treasurer of the William Floyd School District was charged with stealing $750,000 by writing checks to himself and authorizing them with his own signature. In July 2006, spurred by the embezzlement scandal, Gov. George Pataki signed bills under which school districts faced greater scrutiny and board members given mandatory financial training. The comptroller’s office was also granted added funding and staff to perform audits.
-Compiled by Judy Weinberg

CA Technologies $2-billion fraud

In 2006, former Long Island software executive Sanjay
(Credit: Charles Eckert)

In 2006, former Long Island software executive Sanjay Kumar, pictured here outside court in 2007, pleaded guilty to fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Kumar was chief executive of Islandia-based Computer Associates International -- now CA Technologies -- when he defrauded investors by overstating earnings and backdating executives' stock options. Kumar is serving a 12-year prison sentence.
-Compiled by Meghan Glynn

LIRR disability fraud

In 2008, the New York Times reported that
(Credit: Charles Eckert)

In 2008, the New York Times reported that LIRR employees had been paid nearly $250 million in federal occupational disability payments since 2000. Federal prosecutors contended that some of the people receiving disability payments were healthy enough to play golf and engage in other strenuous exercise. In 2011, federal investigators filed a 74-page criminal complaint that stated LIRR workers collected disability benefits at a rate 12 times higher than Metro-North workers, and that 869 of the workers between 50 and 55 who retired during a five-year period ending in 2008 got disability awards. The complaint said defendant orthopedists Peter Ajemian, 62, of Syosset, and Peter Lesniewski, 60, of Rockville Centre, along with an unidentified third doctor who was then deceased, accounted for 86 percent of disability claims filed from 1998 to 2011. It said the doctors received "millions of dollars" to approve more than 90 percent of the LIRR workers they saw. In the ensuing investigations and prosecutions of the conspiracy, 33 people, including 29 former LIRR workers, were convicted of making bogus disability claims.

Madoff Ponzi scheme

In December 2008, 70-year-old Wall Street investor and
(Credit: AP / Ruby Washington)

In December 2008, 70-year-old Wall Street investor and former Roslyn resident Bernard Madoff, seen above in 1999, was arrested as a massive multiyear, multibillion dollar Ponzi scheme unraveled. Madoff estimated losses from his scheme to be $50 billion, and authorities later revised the number to $17.5 billion. In 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 charges, including fraud, perjury and money-laundering, and was sentenced to 150 years in prison. In December 2010, two years to the day after his father’s arrest, Madoff’s son Mark, a key player in the Madoff investment firm, committed suicide in his Manhattan apartment. As of April 2015, about half the money bilked from investors has been returned to them.
-Compiled by Laura Mann

SAT cheating in Nassau

In 2011 Sam Eshaghoff, a Great Neck North
(Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)

In 2011 Sam Eshaghoff, a Great Neck North graduate who was attending Emory University in Atlanta, was charged with taking the SAT college entrance exam for as many as 15 students using fake identification. Eshaghoff was accused of accepting as much as $3,600 from one student. As many as 20 students were eventually arrested of either paying someone to take the test for them, or accepting money to take the test for other students. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice pressed for reforms after investigating those cases, and the scandal led to imposition of stricter security measures nationwide in administering the test.
-Compiled by Laura Mann

Islip town dumping

In April 2014, the Suffolk County district attorney's
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

In April 2014, the Suffolk County district attorney's office subpoenaed records from the Town of Islip as part of an investigation into allegations of illegal dumping at town-owned Roberto Clemente Park, above. The subsequent investigation unearthed the use of several parks and a veterans' housing complex as illegal dumping locations. Lab results revealed that toxins like asbestos, pesticides, lead and barium were found in soil samples taken at some of the locations. Remediation of the areas has begun, but is expected to be a lengthy process that officials say could take years to complete in some locations.
-Compiled by Meghan Glynn

Gilgo Beach

A Suffolk police officer and cadaver dog were
(Credit: James Carbone)

A Suffolk police officer and cadaver dog were conducting a search on Dec. 11, 2010, for Shannan Gilbert, a prostitute who was reported missing in May 2010, when they found the body of another woman near Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach. Subsequent searches led to the finding of more bodies, and by April 2011 police had found 10 sets of remains in the area, including eight women, one man and one toddler. Police and family say five women have been identified, all of whom worked as prostitutes. The other three women, the man and toddler have not been identified. Officials announced on Dec. 13, 2011, that Gilbert's body had been found. They say her death is not connected to those of the 10 others.

The case has been complicated by several factors. The rough terrain of Gilgo Beach has made searches difficult. The victims were also found in different areas at different times; parts of some individuals' remains were found years apart throughout Long Island. And police have disagreed over the number of killers behind the victims' deaths. In 2011, then-Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer presented a single-killer theory, while Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said there were at least three killers. Suffolk police say investigations, which have yielded no arrests so far, are ongoing.

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