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Man sought in theft of LI church donation boxes

Nassau County police are looking for a man who stole "poor boxes" and vandalized a Massapequa Park church Sunday night.

Seventh Squad detectives say a man in dark clothing and a baseball cap gained entry to Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Linden Street in Massapequa Park at about 5:34 p.m. by breaking glass on a door.

The intruder took three donation boxes and also damaged some candles, police said.

Police said the amount of money in the boxes could not be determined.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers, 800-244-8477. All callers will remain anonymous.

- Gary Dymski

SOUTHOLD / Man shot during rifle cleaning dies

A Southold man who accidentally was shot in the neck last week as his friend was cleaning a rifle has died, town police said Monday.

Lukasz Pasko, 26, died on Saturday after being shot on Jan. 23, Capt. Martin Flatley said. Flatley said the incident was investigated as an accidental shooting, and because of the death the case will be turned over to the Suffolk County Police Department's homicide unit.

Ryan Lademann, 26, of Southold, told police he was cleaning his rifle when it discharged about 9:45 p.m., striking Pasko in the neck. Lademann has been charged with second-degree assault, Flatley said. He was arraigned last week and released. Lademann could not be reached for comment at his home in Southold Monday.

A Mass for Pasko is tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Ostrabrama Roman Catholic Church in Cutchogue, according to the DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Southold.

- Gary Dymski and Carl MacGowan

NEW HYDE PARK / Cops: Police dog finds burglar at church school

A police canine unit responding to a burglary-in-progress at a Presbyterian church in New Hyde Park tracked down the suspected burglar in a second-floor classroom of the attached school.

When Thunder, the police dog, found Benjamin Wiener, the suspect, Thunder bit Wiener in the left leg during a brief struggle, Nassau police said Monday.

Wiener, 22, of 952 N. Fifth St., New Hyde Park, was arrested just after midnight Monday, police said.

The call was received at 11:40 p.m. Sunday reporting the burglary at the Christian Education Building of the First Presbyterian Church of New Hyde Park, 16 S. Ninth St.

A search of the building by the canine unit turned up Wiener hiding in a second-floor classroom, where he was bitten by Thunder, police said. He was treated for the dog bite at an area hospital and then was taken to the Third Precinct, where he was arrested.

Wiener was charged with third-degree burglary.

- John Valenti

BRONX / Judge delays ruling whether fatal-fire jury was tainted

Bronx State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Clancy will not decide until Feb. 10 whether to throw out convictions in last winter's Black Sunday fire trial because a juror contacted a witness while deliberations were under way. A decision had been expected Monday.

Juror Karen Krell, a schoolteacher, admitted in July that she disobeyed jury instructions by e-mailing firefighter Brendan Cawley of Manhattan who was injured in the Jan. 23, 2005, fire and testified at the trial.

Clancy must decide whether Krell's actions tainted the verdicts.

Lt. Curtis Meyran, 46, of Malverne, and firefighter John Bellew, 37, of Pearl River, died after jumping to escape flames in the East 178th Street apartment building.

The jury found the Bronx building's manager and owner guilty of criminally negligent homicide after prosecutors said they didn't remove illegal, tenant-built walls that confused firefighters.

- Kathleen Kerr

QUEENS / 2 school workers from LI charged in endangerment

A teacher and an aide from Long Island have been charged with child endangerment in Queens for allegedly instigating a schoolroom fight between two fourth-grade boys to settle a dispute.

Joseph Gullotta, 29, of Williston Park, a teacher at P.S. 65 in Ozone Park, and aide Abraham Fox, 43, of Merrick, had another student close the door while a 9-year-old and 10-year-old wrestled, leaving one of the boys with a bloody lip, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

The men were arraigned over the weekend and released on their own recognizance. A lawyer for the two men did not return a call for comment.

"When parents send their children off to school, their teachers have an obligation to provide a safe environment for them," Brown said.

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