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RIVERHEAD/Farm owner charged with animal cruelty

The owner of a Riverhead animal farm was arraigned Wednesday on charges of animal cruelty after a search of his property by the Suffolk County SPCA uncovered animals suffering from malnutrition and broken limbs, officials said.

Carlo Lauro, 62, who owns Arrowhead Pine animal farm, is charged with 10 counts of animal cruelty, Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross said.

"Not all the animals were malnourished," Gross said, "but we found there was failure to provide proper sustenance." Gross said about 100 animals are housed on the property, and that several had broken limbs.

The injured animals were being treated at the site, Gross said, and some might have to be euthanized.

Gross also said the property, which was searched Sunday, was littered with debris, posing a danger to the animals. "There's junk all over the place and they could get hurt," he said. "That's not the way things should be."

Lauro pleaded not guilty in Riverhead Town Justice Court to "overdriving," torturing and injuring animals and failure to provide proper sustenance. Each count is a misdemeanor and punishable by one year in prison and a $1,000 fine under New York State Agriculture and Markets Law.

The charges cover a rabbit, a cow, a horse, two pigs, two sheep and three goats, according to court records.

Lauro was released on a cash bail of $10,000 and is due back in court April 20.

"We deny the allegations, and we feel we have ample proof to fight these charges," Anthony La Pinta, Lauro's Hauppauge attorney said. He said his client has been running the farm since 1990 and has a "favorable reputation" in the community.

The farm includes sheep, pigs, cattle, goats, horses, chickens, rabbits and dogs, the SPCA said. Many are in need of food, grain, hay and medicine, Gross said. Those interested in making donations can contact the SPCA, 631-382-7722, or drop off supplies between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Martha Clara Vineyards, 6025 Sound Ave., Riverhead.

- GARY DYMSKI


CORAM/Lawyer, his assistant convicted of visa fraud

A Coram lawyer and his assistant were convicted of visa fraud Wednesday by a federal jury in Brooklyn for a scheme to file phony applications to legalize the status of hundreds of illegal immigrants.

Thomas Archer, 53, was accused of charging $1,500 to $2,500 to each of more than 230 clients in 2004 and 2005 for filling out fraudulent applications to the Department of Homeland Security for a program for which they did not qualify. His assistant, Rukhsana Rafique, 45, of Ozone Park, also was convicted.

Witnesses in the case included four former clients from Pakistan and Guyana. Archer and Rafique each face up to 10 years in prison for visa fraud and 5 years for conspiracy.

- JOHN RILEY


WYANDANCH/Man nabbed in Atlanta charged with murder

A former Wyandanch man living in Atlanta was arrested on murder charges Wednesday in the fatal stabbing last year of a man in an illegal rooming house, Suffolk County police said.

Rasamadi Davis, 22, was arrested by members of the Suffolk County police homicide squad, the U.S. Marshals Service and local police in Atlanta, police said in a release.

Davis was being held at the Fulton County Jail and was scheduled to have an extradition hearing, Wednesday police said.

Davis allegedly stabbed Jodel J. Damus, 25, a Haitian immigrant, on Aug. 23, 2009, in a Wyandanch rooming house that was in foreclosure.

No further details were immediately available.

- GARY DYMSKI


FRANKLIN SQUARE/Drug store owner charged with defrauding Medicare

Federal prosecutors Wednesday charged a Franklin Square man with defrauding Medicare of nearly $100,000 through bogus billings from his pharmacy.

James Ehrlein, 38, the owner of Jayson Drugs in Franklin Square, allegedly billed Medicare from 2007 to 2009 for diabetic shoe inserts and ankle gauntlets that never were provided to the beneficiaries in whose names the claims were made.

Ehrlein was arraigned on the fraud complaint Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn and was released on $350,000 bond. He will not enter a plea until an indictment is filed. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. His lawyer declined to comment on the charges.

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