06/04/13 9:21pm

Tanger II food court

A Mastic man was arrested for making a terroristic threat Tuesday at Tanger Outlets after he told police he had a machete in his backpack and felt like hurting people, Riverhead police said.

Police were called to the Route 58 shopping complex about 12:45 p.m. for reports of a man who was threatening to hurt himself and others, officials said.

Police arrived at the Tanger Outlet II food court and found John Medina, 32, whom police said had a machete in his backpack at the time. Mr. Medina told responding officers he wanted to “hurt others, hurt himself,” police said.

Riverhead Detective Sgt. Joseph Loggia said Mr. Medina voluntarily gave himself up to police and told them he knew what he was feeling was wrong. He never took the machete out of his backpack, Sgt. Loggia said.

“He’s a veteran who has some issues,” the detective said. “He’s definitely struggling.”

He said Mr. Medina, who works at the Levi’s outlet store in the shopping center, contacted an acquaintance and explained he was having disturbed thoughts. The acquaintance then called the police to alert them to Mr. Medina’s condition.

Mr. Medina was arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat, a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison, and a misdemeanor criminal possession of a weapons charge, police said.

He was arraigned in Justice Court and is being held at the county jail.

“We are thankful that no one was hurt,” said Janine Nebons, the Riverhead outlet center’s general manager. “The incident is under police investigation. We appreciate your patience while the police investigation is underway.”

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04/18/13 7:04am
04/18/2013 7:04 AM
Robert Love (inset) has pleaded guilty to

DA PHOTO | Robert Love (inset) has pleaded guilty to charges related to a drug trafficking ring.

The Riverhead ex-con who helped run a sophisticated cocaine ring between New York City and Riverhead has pleaded guilty to felony drug and conspiracy charges for his role in the drug-smuggling operation, according to court records.

Robert Love, 59, copped to second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a class A felony, and third-degree conspiracy, a class D felony, during a Wednesday court appearance, records show.

Mr. Love and his alleged co-conspirators — identified by authorities as Miguel Matos, 45, and Radames “Ray” Melendez, 22, both of the Bronx — ferried more than three kilos of drugs a week on average to the East End using hidden compartments in three vehicles to transport the drugs, authorities have said.

Mr. Love received about a kilo of cocaine, worth roughly $37,000 each, every other day, said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. He then broke the kilos into gram-sized pieces and sold them in Riverhead, Greenport, Flanders and Southampton for $50 and $60 a gram.

Authorities said the cocaine operation was one of the largest in East End history.

Mr. Love was on parole while he operated the ring, after being previously convicted of cocaine sale and possession.

He was released from prison in December 2009, but was arrested with the other two Bronx men on June 13 by Riverhead Town police.

Mr. Love tried to flee police and threw a kilo of cocaine over a fence when police arrested him at his Riverhead home, authorities said after the arrest.

The drug charge to which Mr. Love pleaded guilty carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison for a second-time offender, and he faces up to seven years in prison for the conspiracy charge. He will be sentenced May 24, court records show. He is currently being held at the Suffolk County jail on $1 million bond or $500,000 cash bail for sentencing.

Mr. Matos, whom officials identified as a “major player” in the drug world and the mastermind behind the operation, is being held on $2 million bond or $1 million cash bail and is due in court on April 30.

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02/19/13 11:00am
02/19/2013 11:00 AM

LONG ISLAND AQUARIUM PHOTO | Jelly, a North American river otter, gave birth to four pups this weekend.

The Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead closes during most overnight hours — but nature doesn’t stop.

That was apparent Saturday morning, when staffers discovered four newborn North American river otters in the Otter Falls exhibit, which opened in 2008.

The pups were born to the aquarium’s river otter couple, Peanut Butter, the male, and Jelly, the female. Officials say the pups are healthy, and are being kept in a secluded area — away from the public’s eye — with their mother as they nurse, sleep and grow.

“While it’s still very early, they all seem to be doing well and Jelly is being a fabulous mother as expected,” aquarium officials said in a release. “The otter pups and mom are inside in the holding areas of the exhibit while the male, PB, is still on exhibit.”

The pups won’t be visible to the public until they start moving on their own, which will take about a month. They’ll nurse for four months.

In the meantime, the aquarium released photos of the newborns.

LONG ISLAND AQUARIUM PHOTO | The four river otter pups born this weekend.

From the aquarium:

The playful North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is equally at home in the water as it is on land. Once abundant in U. S. and Canadian rivers, lakes, and coastal areas, the North American river otter can today be found in parts of Canada, the Northwest, upper Great Lakes area, New England, and Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. 

Members of the weasel family, river otters enjoy sliding down muddy and snowy hills, bouncing objects on their paws, playing tag, and wrestling.

01/01/13 7:00am
01/01/2013 7:00 AM
Robbery at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, N.Y., victim speaks out

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Looking south toward the Hyatt hotel and Long Island Aquarium from the Ostrander Avenue sidewalk.

North Babylon resident Nick Galioto and his girlfriend drove to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead Saturday to spend the day interacting with penguins as part of a Christmas gift from his mother.

But what happened after the young couple left the aquarium still has them both “shaken.”

“You see it in the movies and you see it on TV, but you never think it’ll happen to you,” Mr. Galioto said in an interview. “Out of all the days, leaving the aquarium, you think it’s a pretty safe location.”

After hours of fun at the aquarium, Mr. Galioto, 24, and his 19-year-old girlfriend were robbed at knifepoint by a man on a bike as they walked back to their parked car Saturday afternoon.

“I’ve never been in any type of situation [like this] … never of a magnitude like this, never in my life,” Mr. Galioto said.

The young couple were huddling under an umbrella to stay dry from the rain while walking north along the sidewalk of Ostrander Avenue about 4 p.m. when they heard a voice behind them mutter to get out of the way, Mr. Galioto recalled.

The two moved over to the side up against a fence when the man, wearing a jacket with the hood up, rode up close next to them on a bicycle, blocking them from moving, Mr. Galioto said.

“Give me your wallet,” the man demanded while straddling the bike.

Mr. Galioto said that when he hesitated, the man pulled a knife on the couple.

“When the knife was brought out, there’s only so much you can do,” Mr. Galioto said.

The man took Mr. Galioto’s wallet, then demanded his now-crying girlfriend’s wallet too. When the couple gave him both wallets, the robber told them to give up their cell phones, Mr. Galioto said.

Shaken, his girlfriend dropped the umbrella during the robbery. Once the man took their phones, he “backed off a bit” from the couple and told the girl, “you can pick up your umbrella now,” Mr. Galioto said.

The robber pedaled off on his bike south on Ostrander Avenue, toward East Main Street, according to the police report.

The suspect was a black man, taller than 5’9″ and most likely in his mid-20s or early 30s, Mr. Galioto said.

After the robbery, the two rushed to the parking lot, where they got the attention of a passerby in a car and called the police. An officer quickly arrived on the scene and searched for the suspect but wasn’t able to find him, Mr. Galioto said.

The victims were not injured in the mugging, police said. Detectives are investigating the incident, police said.

“If you’ve never experienced something like this, you have no idea what it’s like,” Mr. Galioto said, adding that both he and his girlfriend rarely visit Riverhead.

Mr. Galioto said he had spoken to representatives at the aquarium, but wanted to see steps taken to beef up security in the area.

“I know that this place is a major tourist attraction … To help rebuild an area you need those great attractions,” he said. “[But] it makes it very difficult when people are afraid to go there.”

He was surprised to hear that the aquarium does not provide security guards for the parking lot located blocks away.

“That’s an issue that needs to be looked into,” he said.

A Long Island Aquarium employee said Monday that the parking lot was a public lot off aquarium property and not subject to its security. Long Island Aquarium executive director Bryan DeLuca was unavailable for comment.

However, Mr. Galioto noted that the aquarium collects parking fees from the lot during the summer.

“Someone should be responsible for [safety],” he said, “Whether they should hire a security guard or have a shuttle bus, because that parking lot is pretty far away.”

Margaret Galioto, Nick’s mother, said she wanted to make sure this incident never happened again to any other visitors.

“I understand that this could happen anywhere but I do think a more proactive stance by the aquarium and the surrounding community is needed as this is supposed to be a family-friendly area of attractions,” she wrote in an email.

Mr. Galioto said the mugging is still fresh in his mind.

He said he was shocked to read news reports about a robbery at Tanger Outlets where an employee was tied up and her car stolen, as well as a fatal hit-and-run accident a few blocks from where he was mugged, all happening in less than a week.

For now, Mr. Galioto said he won’t return to Riverhead, not until he sees that something has been done to protect tourists and residents. He is focused on canceling his credit cards and getting a new driver’s license.

But now there is an added stress for him as well, he said: his mother gave the same Christmas present to his brother and his girlfriend.

They are planning to go to the Long Island Aquarium this weekend, Mr. Galioto said.

“I don’t want him going,” he said. “I don’t feel safe for them.”

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12/31/12 11:13am
12/31/2012 11:13 AM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A couple were robbed at knife-point while walking from the Long Island Aquarium to a nearby parking lot Saturday, police said.

A couple visiting the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead was robbed at knifepoint by a man on a bike as the pair walked back to a parked car Saturday afternoon, town police said.

The out-of-towners were walking north on Ostrander Avenue away from the aquarium about 4:15 p.m. when a voice from behind yelled for them to “get out of [his] way,” police said.

The voice then said “stop right there,” the couple reported to police. The alleged robber, a man riding a bicycle, then pulled a knife on the couple.

The unidentified man took the couple’s wallets and cell phones before fleeing south on Ostrander Avenue, police said.

The victims were not injured.

The parking lot the couple was walking to was a public lot off of the Aquarium’s property and not subject to the center’s security, an employee said. Long Island Aquarium executive director Bryan DeLuca was unavailable for comment Monday morning.

Riverhead detectives are investigating the incident, police said.

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12/22/12 11:15am
12/22/2012 11:15 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The North Fork Liquor store as it appeared in September.

A 38-year-old Aquebogue man was arrested early Saturday for breaking into a Jamesport liquor store, stealing booze and then driving off, Riverhead Town police said.

Bradford Reeve of Main Road in Aquebogue is accused of breaking into North Fork Liquor on Main Road in Jamesport just after midnight by breaking a front window and making off with several bottles of liquor, police said.

He was arrested after an investigation and charged with burglary, two counts of possession of stolen property, and DWI, officials said in a press release.

Mr. Reeve was also listed as being one of 10 people arrested in a DWI check point set up by the East End DWI Task Force Friday night.

It was not immediately clear if he got snared in the check point net after fleeing the alleged burglary.

12/07/12 4:24pm
12/07/2012 4:24 PM

Don’t walk by yourself.

And don’t go up to any strange cars — anytime, anywhere.

That’s the message a 17-year-old Riverhead High School student and her mother want to send out to other young people after the girl managed to avoid a potential abduction Wednesday morning as she walked to school.

“My shoulders hurt from my bags, and I was tired,” the girl told the News-Review Friday, recalling the ordeal. “If my parents didn’t raise me right and the man didn’t ask me those [strange] questions I might have gotten in that car.”

Had that happened, the mom said, the calls home from school “would have been quite different.”

The suspect, whom the girl described as a clean-cut man with a slight Spanish accent, pulled over in front of her on Osborn Avenue and rolled down his window. She said she took her earphones out and approached the car, thinking the man needed directions — like other people have in the past.

“Sometimes it’s the morning and people are looking for a place to get coffee. He first asked if I was in middle school and I said, no,” she said. “And then he asked if I was I was in the high school and I said yeah. And he asked me if I wanted a ride up.”

That’s when her suspicions kicked in.

“He had the window open and I was looking in the car [for weapons]. Making sure his hand was somewhere where I could see it,” she said.

She declined the ride and kept walking, only to see him drive off, but too fast for her to get a full license plate number.

He then pulled into the nearby Bagel Lovers parking lot.

She flagged down a sheriff’s deputy.

“I told him it was a black car and what he looked like and he went looking for him” while she went straight to school, she said.

School administrators and Riverhead police were soon notified, and took a statement from the teenager.

Being a young girl, she and her friends are used to cat-calls and comments, even from older men, she said.

“But this was very different; just odd. Someone in their pajamas asking teenagers if they need a ride? It’s just not normal,” she said.

She credited her parents for always making her wary of other people’s true intentions.

Mom said she was proud, yet still shaken up.

“I let my guard down and let her go to school alone,” she said. “And then this happened. Thank God she remembered everything we talked about.

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11/27/12 4:38pm
11/27/2012 4:38 PM

Four men were arrested during an East End DWI Task Force operation in Riverhead Friday night, authorities said.

The operation included a checkpoint on East Main Street as well as random patrols in the area conducted by the Riverhead, Suffolk County and Quogue police departments, said Riverhead police Lt. David Lessard.

The checkpoint ran from 8 p.m. on Friday night through 4 a.m. Saturday morning and netted four arrests, police said.

Rodney Shorter, 36, of Mattituck, was charged with driving while intoxicated and unlawful possession of marijuana, police said.

Jose Ortega, 34, of Mattituck and Robert Reddick Jr., 22, of Southampton were arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, police said.

Rodney Trappen, 35, of Aquebogue was also arrested in the police operation and charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Lt. Lessard said the task force, which began this summer and encompasses police departments across the East End, will conduct an additional operation later this year.

He advised residents to drive safely during the holidays.

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11/21/12 8:00am
11/21/2012 8:00 AM

FILE PHOTOS | Four armed robberies have been reported at local businesses in the past month. Police officials say they are stepping up patrols.

An armed robbery at a Mattituck gas station Monday night marked the fourth stickup at a local business in the past month, and town police department officials say they’re stepping up patrols and investigating to see whether the crimes are related.

The first reported robbery occurred on Oct. 20 when two masked men armed with handguns robbed the Spirit Halloween store on Route 58 about 9:30 p.m., Riverhead police said.

The men removed an undisclosed amount of cash from the store’s registers and fled south across the parking lot. No one was injured in the incident.

About a week and a half later, three masked men dressed in costumes robbed a Valero gas station in Riverside on Halloween night, Southampton police said.

At least two of the men were armed with handguns when they held up the Flanders Road station, also at 9:30 p.m., police said.

The men struck the gas attendant and took about $270 in cash from the store’s register, said Southampton Town police Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa in a previous interview. The men attempted to rob the clerk as well, but fled the scene because they believed police were on their way, she said.

One week later on Nov. 7, three masked men wearing hooded black sweatshirts stormed Barth’s Pharmacy in Riverhead about 6 p.m., Riverhead police said. The men, one of whom was armed with a handgun, demanded cash and prescription drugs from the store’s employees.

The men made off with assorted merchandise and cash and fled the store through a rear door, police said. No one was hurt in the robbery. Police later released stills from a store surveillence video showing the suspects.

A parked vehicle was seen in the vicinity, with its headlights on, facing the rear door as the suspects fled the area, police said. Another vehicle was seen at the same time driving in an easterly direction through the lot.

The most recent robbery occurred Monday night, when three masked men robbed a Mattituck gas station of more than $4,000 in cash and cigarettes, police and a store manager said.

A masked man entered the BP station on Main Road about 10:15 p.m. and pointed a handgun at the store’s cashier, ordering him to lie down on the floor, manager Recep Zaim said on Tuesday.

Two other men wearing masks or bandanas over their faces entered the store and began emptying the cash register behind the counter, police said.

About $4,000 in cash and 11 cartons of cigarettes were taken in the robbery, Mr. Zaim said. The men then went to the back of the store and smashed the surveillance cameras before fleeing the scene, he said, causing about $2,000 worth of damage.

The employee was unharmed in the robbery, Mr. Zaim said.

Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said in an interview that the suspects fled the area down a nearby side street. K-9 units were called to the scene Monday night to investigate, though police have not made an any arrests, he said.

Chief Flatley said it was too early to tell if the robbery Monday night was related to the other armed robberies in the area, though it was “obviously one of the things we’re looking into.”

Southold police have increased their patrols in the western part of Southold Town as a result of the robberies.

“We’re stepping up our patrols of gas stations and other similar types of stores,” Chief Flatley said. “Our patrol officers are definitely aware of what’s going on and are keeping a close look in those areas.”

The police chief also advised business owners to remain vigilant and staff stores with more than one employee for safety reasons.

Riverhead police Det. Sgt. Joseph Loggia said the department is still investigating the two robberies in Riverhead Town.

“We don’t have anything definite, but we’re looking into the possibility [that the robberies are related],” he said.

Like in Southold, Riverhead police have also increased patrols around town, Sgt. Loggia said.

“Patrols are stepped up,” he said. “Everybody’s on the lookout for anything that could happen.”

Sgt. Loggia also asked residents with information about the robberies to tell police.

“If you thought you saw something, say something,” he said. “Anyone with information is encouraged to come forward.”

Southampton police Det. Sgt. Lisa Costa could not be reached to comment on the department’s investigation of the Riverside robbery.

Residents with information regarding the robberies can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at (800) 220-TIPS, Riverhead police at (631) 727-4500, Southampton town police detectives at (631) 702-2230, or Southold police at (631) 765-2600.

Police have offered a $5,000 cash reward for information about the Barth’s Pharmacy robbery. All calls will be kept confidential.

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11/07/12 10:50pm
11/07/2012 10:50 PM

Three masked men armed with a handgun stormed Barth’s drugstore on East Main Street in downtown Riverhead and demanded prescription drugs from the employees inside, Riverhead police said.

The marked trio, with one person armed, entered the mainstay downtown business about 6 p.m.Wednesday and demanded cash and prescription drugs.

They made off with unspecified proceeds, police said. No injuries were reported.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call 727-4500.

GIANNA VOLPE FILE PHOTO | Owner Barry Barth of Barth’s Pharmacy in Riverhead at his store earlier this year.