A Catholic priest was arrested Wednesday morning at a Bethpage motel with crack cocaine and a pipe and told authorities that he started using the drug after his sister was decapitated in 2014, police said.
“I have been smoking crack cocaine ever since my sister was murdered,” Robert Lubrano, 63, an unassigned priest with the Rockville Centre diocese told police, according to court documents.
Lubrano’s sister, Patricia Ward, 66, a Farmingdale State College professor, was fatally stabbed by her son, Derek Ward, 35, in their Farmingdale apartment in October 2014. After he decapitated his mother, he dragged her remains into the street and committed suicide by stepping in front of a Long Island Rail Road train.
Wednesday, Bureau of Special Operations officers saw Lubrano approach the driver’s window of a 1998 Toyota about 12:05 a.m. in the parking lot of the Bethpage Motel at 4107 Hempstead Tpke., police said.
Lubrano, of 9 Reese Place, and the driver, Michael Oyola, 32, of 1226 Boston Rd., the Bronx, exchanged an undisclosed amount of money, police said. Lubrano was arrested after entering a motel room, where police said they found the crack and a silver-colored metal pipe with crack residue.
Lubrano wouldn’t answer the door at his home Wednesday.
Oyola was separately arrested and released with an appearance ticket for marijuana possession. He said in an interview he has worked as a handyman for Lubrano and his family for about seven years and handed Lubrano $60 to pay for the motel room the two were going to share to “sit, smoke and talk about real life stuff.”
“I hang out with him and make sure he was safe while he was doing it,” said Oyola, who said he’s not his dealer. “He’s a grown man and he’s going to do what he pleases.”
Oyola said Lubrano lives with his elderly mother Josephine and the pair are broken-hearted over Patricia Ward’s killing. “He takes it really, really bad,” said Oyola.
“He’s a human being and only God can judge him,” said Oyola. “He’s a really good guy. And I didn’t want to see it go down like this, but maybe it’s a wake-up call.”
District Court Judge Darlene Harris conditionally released Lubrano to probation and ordered him to undergo substance abuse treatment at his arraignment on charges of fifth-and seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance. He was represented by a Legal Aid attorney.
Sean Dolan, a diocese spokesman, said Lubrano has been on authorized leave for five years.
“The diocese will cooperate with law enforcement in any way they ask,” Dolan said.
Lubrano previously served as associate pastor at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary parish in Roosevelt and associate pastor at Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead. In more recent years he celebrated Mass at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Wyandanch when needed, Dolan said.
With Bart Jones