Patchogue mayor to visit Lucero hometown in Ecuador
Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri is making a "goodwill" trip to hate crime victim Marcelo Lucero's hometown in Ecuador, but Lucero's family says they won't be meeting with him there.
Pontieri was to depart at about 1 a.m. Thursday and during a four-day visit was to attend ceremonies marking Gualaceo's independence. He said he was invited by Gualaceo's mayor, who was on Long Island recently.
But Lucero's brother Joselo said his mother and sister, who live in Gualaceo, won't be on Pontieri's agenda because the mayor "betrayed" the family. They are still angry because they believe Pontieri helped arrange a visit by Suffolk Executive Steve Levy to a November 2009 church service for the slain immigrant.
Pontieri acknowledged he has a strained relationship with the family but said he still hopes to meet with Rosario and Isabel Lucero in Gualaceo. "My hope is I can, but I'll understand if the wound is still too deep and the memory is too raw," he said.
The trip is to cost the village about $1,500 in airfare for Pontieri and his deputy mayor. Gualaceo officials will pay for a hotel and food, Pontieri said.