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Crime and courts briefs


Charged in bank heist, copper theft

A man arrested in a theft from a Copiague home improvement store this week has been charged with a Shirley bank robbery from last week, police said yesterday.

First, someone recognized Ben Mendolia, 32, of Mastic, from surveillance video taken during the April 26 robbery of a TD Bank branch in Shirley, police said. Then, police said, witnesses got his license plate number after copper pipe was stolen Tuesday from a Home Depot in Copiague.

Mendolia, of 5 Rutland Rd., Mastic, was arrested Wednesday on charges of fourth-degree grand larceny for the theft of copper piping and third-degree robbery for the bank robbery, Suffolk County police said.

The bank robbery took place at the TD Bank branch at 530 William Floyd Pkwy. at 11:55 a.m. on April 26. Police said the suspect entered the bank, handed the teller a note, then ran off with the cash -- but not before being recorded on surveillance video.

Images from that footage were released by police on Tuesday and Sgt. Ed Compagnone of the Pattern Crime Unit said a tip identified Mendolia as the suspect in a call to Crime Stoppers.

Meanwhile, police said, that same day Mendolia stole copper piping from the Home Depot on Sunrise Highway in Copiague, and witnesses took down a license plate number that was linked to Mendolia and his home.

Compagnone said Mendolia also was caught on surveillance video at the Home Depot.


Passerby helps boy, 12, flee fire

A passerby has been credited with helping rescue a 12-year-old boy, stopping to alert the child his house was on fire Wednesday, Suffolk County police said.

A fire official said firefighters from eight departments responded and that the home had extensive damage, although a dog, a cat and several other pets were saved.

Police said the fire at the house on American Avenue in Coram was reported in a 911 call at 4:01 p.m. The caller said that a driver who was passing the home noticed "smoke coming from the house" -- then stopped, talked to a 12-year-old boy, and told him to leave.

In addition to the dog and cat, firefighters removed several 10-gallon tanks filled with reptiles, Gandolfo said.

Gandolfo said one Coram firefighter suffered a minor shoulder injury. Police said arson investigators determined the cause was electrical and accidental. The identity of the passerby was not known.


Man charged in 3 BB gun shootings

A man who prosecutors said shot three people with a BB gun -- including two teens in the face -- last month in West Islip was arraigned yesterday in Riverhead.

Ismael Forbes, 20, of West Islip, was arrested in Bay Shore on April 26, charged by Suffolk County police with three counts of second-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury, Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

The shootings took place at the corner of Udall Road and Higbie Lane, Spota said. One victim was shot in the chin and required cosmetic surgery, prosecutors said, while the second victim had surgery to remove a pellet from his nasal cavity. The third victim was hit in the neck but she was not seriously injured, prosecutors said.

Robert Clifford, spokesman for the district attorney's office, said Forbes shot them as he drove by in a minivan. He asked investigators to let his victims know he was sorry and did not mean to hurt them, Clifford said.


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