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Smithtown youth leader charged with child endangerment

A supervisor for a Smithtown youth group that raises money through door-to-door candy sales has been arrested after authorities found several children under his charge walking the streets in frigid temperatures without supervision, Nassau police said Sunday.

Jule Huston, 26, who has supervised candy-selling runs and other activities for nonprofit New York Youth Club for nine years, was charged Saturday night with 11 misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of resisting arrest, police said.

It is the second arrest of a New York Youth Club supervisor this month. Adam Maxwell, 25, of Hempstead, was charged on Jan. 12 with child endangerment by Nassau police when Cedarhurst residents called police about the children out in freezing weather, police said.

Saturday night's arrest was prompted by a Nassau patrol officer who pulled over about 6:10 p.m. when she saw a girl, 12, and a boy, 13, standing on the corner of Hempstead Turnpike and Carl Avenue in Franklin Square. The temperature was about 19 degrees at that time, according to the National Weather Service.

The children contacted Huston, of Centereach, who told Newsday he then went to the Fifth Precinct station house in Elmont. The teens were released to their parents.

In an interview, Huston said he and another club supervisor drove 11 young people aged 12 to 17 from the Brentwood and Bay Shore areas to Franklin Square. Huston said he made sure the children wore layers, heavy coats, hats and gloves. Huston said he was never more than five minutes away from any of the children at any time and they kept in touch by cell phone.

"Nassau police are harassing this program," said Huston, who added that the program helped him as a teenager. "They don't want minority kids in some of these neighborhoods."

Police declined to comment on Huston's assertions Sunday night.

The New York Youth Club obtained nonprofit status in 2000. According to its Web site, the group organizes educational and recreational activities for about 200 young people in New York City and on Long Island. Some fundraising comes from selling candy door to door, Huston said. He said teens older than 14 get to keep a commission on each candy sale, though he would not say how much.

Huston, of Centereach, pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Sunday in First District Court in Hempstead. He was released on $2,400 cash bail.

Huston denied resisting arrest, saying he only pushed back when an officer shoved him against a wall as he tried to call his attorney.

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