A Long Beach man was indicted Wednesday for allegedly running a clandestine meth lab out of his garage and creating a “grave risk of death” for neighbors because of the risk of explosion.
Jovin Weinstock, 41, pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment Wednesday in Nassau criminal court. His defense attorney, Mitchell Barnett, later said investigators didn't find methamphetamine or residue of the drug at the location.
Weinstock, a licensed clinical laboratory technologist, was arrested May 10 after authorities responded to a neighbor's 911 call and found him unconscious, in respiratory distress and naked on the lawn of his West Beech Street home, officials said. He pleaded not guilty nearly a week later from a hospital bed.
The grand jury indictment, unsealed before acting Nassau Supreme Court Justice Francis Ricigliano in Mineola, charged Weinstock with the unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of lab equipment and meth precursors, reckless endangerment, and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
He created a “grave risk of death” for neighbors, the indictment said.
Specialized teams from multiple law enforcement agencies responded to Weinstock's home in May, including Nassau Fire Marshalls Hazmat, the Nassau police Arson-Bomb Squad, State Police C-Cert Unit, the FBI and DEA.
“This defendant allegedly ran a clandestine drug lab out of his Long Beach home,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “I thank the many first responders who secured the chaotic scene and ensured that no one was hurt by the potentially explosive chemicals allegedly found inside the house.”
Law enforcement officials said they uncovered the illicit drug operation while determining how Weinstock ended up unconscious on his lawn. Investigators then evacuated surrounding homes in case of an explosion.
“Upon entering his home and detached garage, they [authorities] allegedly found scientific lab equipment, including glassware, tubing, measuring equipment and a ventilation system,” the district attorney's office said in a statement. “They also allegedly found various chemicals, including acid, denatured alcohol and an unknown substance in a triple neck flask that was being stirred on a lab hot plate.”
Authorities also recovered “289 store-bought and packaged tablets of Sudafed, a precursor for the manufacturing of methamphetamine, handwritten chemical equations and notations for the creation of nitrotoluene and methaqualone [quaaludes], instructions on how to manufacture methamphetamine, store-bought solvents and 15 clonazepam pills.”
Weinstock “denies ever making meth,” Barnett said outside court. ”Actually no meth was found at the location at all.”
Any chemicals discovered at Weinstock's home could have “innocent purposes,” Barnett said. “I think most of the stuff that was found there is found in anybody’s garage."
Weinstock has a background in chemistry and has worked in the field, Barnett said.
“I believe there are answers for why the chemicals are there” he said.
Some neighbors previously described Weinstock as a brilliant person with a penchant for science. Another said he worked as a glassblower.
Police said previously there was a liquid being heated in the lab on the day of the incident and a chemical process appeared to be underway.
An FBI Special Agent Bomb Technician tested the unknown substance and found it to be a mixture containing nitrotoluene, a substance that can explode under certain conditions, Singas said Wednesday.
Authorities dismantled the lab and seized a large quantity of chemicals, lab equipment and electronic devices from the home.
Bail was set Wednesday at $100,000 cash or $100,000 bond, which Weinstock did not post. He has remained in custody since his May arrest, and is due back in court Jan. 13. If convicted, he faces a potential maximum of 2-1/3 to seven years in prison.
For several months before his May arrest, Weinstock had been in a diversion program for substance abusers who commit felonies, Barnett confirmed.
His involvement in the program followed his arrest on Long Beach’s Boardwalk two years ago on weapon and drug charges after a 2015 conviction for aggravated driving while intoxicated, court documents show.