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Suffolk inmate convicted on contraband charge

An inventive Suffolk jail inmate fashioned a billyclub-style weapon from rolled-up magazines stuffed inside a tube sock, county authorities said Wednesday.

The foot-long club, which a jail official said could seriously hurt a person, was found in the cell of Juan Hechevarria, 56, of Brentwood, who was convicted Tuesday of promoting prison contraband after a two-day bench trial in Riverhead.

Hechevarria faces up to 2 to 4 years in prison when he is sentenced on the contraband conviction July 22 by County Court Judge James F.X. Doyle. He had been serving a 6-month sentence for petty larceny.

Correction officers at the Riverhead jail found the improvised device during a routine search of cells last November, said Michael Sharkey, chief of staff of the sheriff's office, which runs the jail.

"The person would hold on to the ankle part of the sock and then you could swing it," Sharkey said. "While the individual components may seem innocuous . . . when they're put together in this manner, you could really do some serious damage to someone."

The Havana-born Hechevarria was in jail for stealing $859 worth of electronics last October from a Brentwood Radio Shack store, the district attorney's office said.

Hechevarria's attorney, Daniel Barker of Riverhead, did not return a call seeking comment.

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