This week in North Fork history: Former Greenport man mysteriously dies at sea

The following stories were excerpted from Suffolk Times issues published 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years ago this week:

25 years ago …

Mystery surrounds former Greenport resident’s death 

Ludwig “Luddy” Ferrara, a 42-year-old former Greenport resident who moved to Key West, Fla. last year died in an explosion at sea Nov. 18. Or did he?

That was the lead of a story in the Suffolk Times issue published December 11, 1986.

Even members of Mr. Ferrara’s family were uncertain of the circumstances surrounding his death, we reported.

“We don’t know,” said his sister, Charlotte Conlon of Amityville. “There was no body. I’m still hoping he’ll walk in through the door and this nightmare will be over.”

Mr. Ferrara had been on probation related to drug charges at the time of his death. Varying reports had him dying in an explosion in either Nicaragua, Honduras or South Carolina, we reported.

Postscript: We attempted to contact Mr. Ferrara’s sister for an update this week, but a phone message was not returned.

Tuthill testifies in shooting trial

Suffolk County police officer Kenyon Tuthill of Orient took the witness stand in County Court Dec. 9, 1986, describing the shooting that year that left him disfigured and blind in one eye, we wrote in that week’s issue of The Suffolk Times.

Det. Tuthill, who rose to the rank of detective after the shooting, testified in the trial of Neil Ludwigsen, 23, of Center Moriches. Mr. Ludwigsen stood charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault and unlawful use of a firearm.

Det. Tuthill testified that while working the 4 p.m. to midnight shift on May 27, 1986 he stopped Mr. Ludwigsen for having no inspection sticker on his car. A computer name check revelaed his license had been revoked.

The detective was finishing up some paperwork at a Center Moriches shopping center when Mr. Ludwigsen pulled up alongside him and shot him with a .12 gauge shotgun.

Mr. Ludwigsen’s defense attorney argued his client believed he was “under direct orders from the White House” to shoot the officer.

Postscript: Mr. Ludwigsen was convicted of all charges and is serving 25 years to life in an upstate prison. He is eligible for parole in March. Det. Tuthill returned to the Suffolk Police force in 1988, he continued on until his retirement in 2000 following 25 years of service.

30 years ago …

Legislators nix Shoreham settlement

The Suffolk Legislature by a 12 to 5 vote Dec. 10, 1981 rejected a settlement between the county and the Long Island Lighting Company on LILCO’s Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant project, we reported in that week’s Suffolk Times.

In return for concessions by LILCO, the county under the agreement would have dropped most of the contentions it planned to raise on Shoreham safety concerns at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings on granting Shoreham an operating license.

The settlement included a provision that the county would only test two of the nuclear plant’s three safety systems in exchange for LILCO granting the county more local control over regulating the plant.

Critics of the plan said the settlement was just another way for LILCO to “railroad the project through,” while the utility argued the county would have no assurance of getting any of its concerns addressed through the NRC hearing process and would be better served by having more local control.

East End Legislator Greg Blass, normally an opponent of the plant, sided with LILCO’s stance on the issue and was one of the five legislators who voted in favor of the settlement.

20 years ago …

Bank forecloses on Mohring Project

The bank that financed the redevelopment of the former Mitchell’s property in Greenport has foreclosed on its loan o developers Richard Mohring Sr. and Richard Mohring Jr, we wrote on Dec. 12, 1991.

Crossland Savings Bank of Brooklyn instituted the foreclosure against the Mohring companies that own the property at 115 and 203 Front Street on Aug. 30, 1991. The companies allegedly defaulted on the $2.5 million mortgage the previous December.

Kokomo’s Restaurant was the only business on the site at the time, and it was the first element of a complex of buildings intended for the site, including a luxury hotel, conference center, shops and marina.

Postscript: The foreclosure ultimately paved the way for the Village of Greenport to acquire the land, now the home of Mitchell Park.

15 years ago …

Racism, payroll rigging charged in Greenport

Several months of rumors burst to the surface this week with startling allegations of village employees filing false payroll reports and directing racial epithets against a prominent village official, we reported in a cover story for the Dec. 12, 1996 issue of The Suffolk Times.

According to a memo issued that week by Trustee John Costello a village employee was never reprimanded for using a racial slur to describe another village employee. He also accused employees of tampering records to receive pay they did not earn.

Then-Mayor Dave Kapell immediately responded to ask the Board of Trustees to craft a strongly worded policy in response to the payroll accusations, we reported.

10 years ago …

Feds say OK to save the bay

The Environmental Protection Agency approved the Peconic Estuary Program’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, according to a report in the Dec. 13, 2001 issue of The Suffolk Times.

The plan featured more than 85 actions to the tune of $100 million over 10 years to improve the health of the Peconic estuary. Priority management topics include Brown Tide, nutrients, habitat and living resources, pathogens, toxic pollutants, and critical lands protection.

Postscript: Ten years later, Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister reported some positive news for the Peconic Estuary in his recently released annual report.

5 years ago

Kapell steps down

After 28 years of service in Greenport Village, the man who is revered by some and reviled by others is ready to turn over the reins of power, read the lead of the Dec. 14, 2006 cover story of The Suffolk Times.

As long rumored, mayor Dave Kapell announced last week that he won’t seek reelection in March, we wrote.

“The moment has come for me to step aside and devote more time to my personal and business lives,” the former mayor said in a statement.

The controversial mayor presided over a period of general prosperity in the village, which has seen a renaissance, particularly in the downtown area, with the development of Mitchell Park, the Mitchell Park Marina, ice rink, carousel and camera obscura building, we wrote.

Postscript: On page 3 that week we ran a sidebar on who might be the next mayor of Greenport. At the time, the eventual winner and current mayor, David Nyce, was the only one who had already announced plans to run.