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HEMPSTEAD/Police charge five students after high school melee

Police Wednesday released the names of Hempstead High School students charged in the wake of a schoolwide melee.

School officials will hold student assemblies to address Monday's fight, which closed down the 1,400-student school, Hempstead school Superintendent Patricia Watkins said.

"We need to do more in helping students to solve problems . . . by not fighting," she said.

Additional police and security officers have been stationed throughout the school this week to help keep the peace, Watkins said, and it was possible the district may hire a dean specifically to address security issues.

Eight students were injured in the fight and five have been charged in connection with it, police said.

Nassau County police have charged Rasan Smalls, 18, and Jasper Parker, 17, with two counts of third-degree assault, as well as Tyshawn Brown, 18, and Dennis Wolfolk Jr., 16, with one count of third-degree assault. All four have been charged as adults and could face up to a year in jail if found guilty.

A fifth male student, under the age of 16, faces a first-degree riot charge as a juvenile delinquent and that will be dealt with in family court. Hempstead police declined to release his name because of his age.

School officials will send letters to parents soon and plan to meet with them next Wednesday, Watkins said.

- YAMICHE ALCINDOR


HICKSVILLE/Convicted murderer pleads guilty in plot to kill witness

A man who was convicted last month of stabbing his mother-in-law to death at his twins' birthday party pleaded guilty Wednesday to asking a would-be hit man to kill a key witness in the case.

Harpal Hira, 35, of Hicksville, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree criminal solicitation. Prosecutors contend Hira asked an undercover police officer who he thought was a hit man to kill his sister-in-law, a witness to the stabbing.

The prison sentence Hira serves for that crime, which is a maximum of 2 1/3 to 7 years, will run concurrently with the sentence he serves for murder and a related assault, which is a maximum of 50 years to life.

Hira was acquitted of attempting to kill his wife on the same day he killed her mother, but he was convicted of assaulting her.

"With the amount of blood already on his hands, it is shocking that this defendant thought nothing of trying to end another innocent woman's life," said Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

Prosecutors said Hira stabbed his mother-in-law, Meena Kohli, 54, to death in August 2008. Hira's wife, Ritika Hira, 25, survived to testify against him.

Hira's lawyer, Michael DerGarabedian of Rockville Centre, pointed out that Hira was originally charged with a more serious crime in the murder-for-hire, conspiracy to commit murder, but a judge dismissed that charge.

- ANN GIVENS


SOUTHAMPTON/H.S. teacher arrested on DWI, drug charges

A William Floyd High School teacher was suspended with pay, according to the district, after she was arrested in Southampton Village on driving while intoxicated and drug charges.

At 1:28 a.m. on March 1, Lauren Neiderfer, 26, of Lake Pointe Drive in Middle Island, was arrested after Southampton Village police pulled her over on North Sea Road for a traffic and vehicle violation, police said.

In addition to DWI, Neiderfer was charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance after investigators also found cocaine in her possession, police said.

Neiderfer has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, the district announced.

Neiderfer was released on $500 bail and is due back in court Monday, according to her lawyer Ed Burke Jr. of Sag Harbor.

- SOPHIA CHANG

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