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. 

Seacrest Diner rampage

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, and robbed 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

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. In 2021, a memorial was unveiled at Grant Park in Hewlett, where about 100 of Kelly's family and friends gathered to celebrate the Woodmere Middle School eighth-grader's life, which was cut short two days before her 14th birthday.

-- Compiled by Sara-Megan Walsh

Illegal dumping in Islip

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 Park was closed until 2017. 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. In 2021, it was announced that eight construction contractors, waste brokers and haulers agreed to pay more than $600,000 in civil penalties for dumping tons of contaminated waste in the park, and that legal actions against 25 other companies and individuals named in the federal suit were ongoing.

-- Compiled by Sara-Megan Walsh

Amityville horror

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.

The events, as well as hauntings reported by the next residents of the so-called "Amityville Horror" house, have inspired several works of fiction. In 2021, Ronald Defeo, 69, died in prison. He was serving a 25-years-to-life sentence at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in upstate Fallsburg for each of the six slayings.

-- Compiled by Joe Diglio

Shoreham nuclear power plant

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.

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. In 2018, Hoey’s sentence was trimmed by 10 months because of the 2017 reversal of a state court conviction for assaulting his girlfriend and tampering with evidence that had figured in his federal sentence.

-- Compiled by Joe Diglio

Prison guard baby

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

Katie Beers kidnapping

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

Suffolk land and zoning corruption

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

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.

-- Compiled by Joe Diglio

Daniel Sheehan

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

Gary Melius shot

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

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. Later, that conviction was vacated and a new trial ordered as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a separate case narrowing bribery statutes. The second trial, in 2018, also resulted in convictions for Adam and Dean Skelos on conspiracy, extortion and bribery charges. In 2021, A federal court upheld the 2018 convictions of Dean and Adam Skelos on corruption charges.

-- Compiled by Joe Diglio

Khalif House

Credit: Howard Schnapp

Between February and June 2016, police say a knife-wielding bandit committed at least 40 robberies at stores and eateries across Queens, Nassau and Suffolk. They arrested the man they believe is responsible, Khalif 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. In 2017, House was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a federal judge.

-- Compiled by Joe Diglio

Suffolk County Southwest Sewer District

Credit: Newsday / Thomas R. Koeniges

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

Garbage crisis of the 1980s

Credit: Newsday / Daniel Sheehan

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

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 Isles

Credit: Newsday / 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. After that, Spano continued to run afoul of the law. In the latest case, Spano pleaded guilty to 16 counts of forgery in 2015 in an Ohio court, and is currently serving a 10-year term in prison there.

-- Compiled by Judy Weinberg

Police test cheating

Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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

Mepham football hazing

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.

-- Compiled by Newsday Staff

Long Island school embezzlements

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

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 was released from federal prison in Miami in 2017 after serving nearly 10 years for orchestrating the $2.2 billion accounting fraud scheme.

-- Compiled by Meghan Glynn

SAT cheating in Nassau

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

Murder in the Hamptons

Credit: Gordon M. Grant

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

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