Suffolk County Republican district attorney candidate Ray Tierney on Wednesday kicked off a series of weekly news conferences, attacking incumbent Tim Sini for not being aggressive enough in fighting crime.
Speaking outside the district attorney’s office in Hauppauge, Tierney, a former county and federal prosecutor, accused Sini of failing to adequately prosecute two suspects in recent East End overdose cases for earlier drug crimes they allegedly committed.
Investigators are probing at least six fatal overdoses and seven that were nonfatal on the North Fork and Shelter Island caused by cocaine mixed with a fentanyl analog, according to police.
Prosecutors said Lavain Creighton, 51, of Greenport, sold drugs to three victims who died.
Justin K. Smith, 46, of Smithtown, was Creighton's previous supplier, and his possible involvement in the case is under investigation.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
"If the District Attorney had acted, they could’ve been taken off the streets as far back as 10 months ago," Tierney said of the suspects. "Act before tragedy ensues."
A Sini spokesman said it would be inappropriate for the district attorney's office to comment on a political news conference.
Smith is charged with drug possession, and Creighton is facing manslaughter charges. Creighton is being held in lieu of $5 million cash or $10 million bond bail. Smith was released on $50,000 bond Wednesday.
Anthony Scheller, Smith’s attorney, said Smith "had nothing to do with the overdoses and there's no evidence whatsoever that links him to those overdoses."
Scheller continued: "The only problem with [Tierney’s] logic is that Mr. Smith never supplied that other dealer that caused the overdoses with anything."
In making his argument that Sini didn't prosecute Smith adequately in the past, Tierney referred to two drug arrests involving Smith within the last year.
District attorney officials, who declined to be identified for security purposes, defended their handling of the cases, and disputed Tierney's assertions.
They said the office had sought bail of $250,000 cash, or $500,000 bond, for Smith in October 2020, when he was arrested for felony possession with intent to sell crack, cocaine and fentanyl.
District attorney officials also said they sought bail of $150,000 in cash, or $250,000 bond in March, when Smith was indicted after the October arrest and a separate arrest in February.
The court released Smith without bail in October and on $50,000 bail in March, online records show. The records contain no further explanation.
Tierney said Creighton also should have been arrested and prosecuted after undercover officers bought small amounts of cocaine from him four times between November 2020 and April 2021.
Sini said last week the drugs were part of a larger investigation.
Selling a small amount of cocaine would be a Class B felony, Suffolk prosecutors said Wednesday. State bail law requires defendants in such cases to be released from jail while awaiting trial.
Creighton’s attorney Lane Bubka said his client was never caught with fentanyl and holding him would not prevent people from buying drugs tainted by the supplier.
"This low-level little pushing of cocaine is not going to be stopped because you took Lavain Creighton off the street, if he were selling drugs," his attorney, Lane Bubka, said. "The supplier is going to give it to somebody else to sell."