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Year in Review: Major Crime Stories of 2013

Herber Guzman of East Meadow (Credit: NCPD)
Herber Guzman of East Meadow (Credit: NCPD)
East Meadow Man Arrested for Murder: An East Meadow man was arrested for his alleged involvement in the murder of a Hempstead man, which took place on April 26. After one day of deliberation, a jury convicted Guzman of second-degree murder after he shot Stanley Cater of Hempstead, whom he did not know, in the abdomen. Judge William Donnino delayed his sentencing in December after Guzman asked for a new lawyer. Guzman faces 25 years to life in prison. His sentencing has been rescheduled for mid-January.

East Meadow Fisherman Jailed for Wire Fraud, Falsifying Records: Charles Wertz, Jr., a commercial fisherman from East Meadow, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to charges of wire fraud and falsifying federal records in connection with a scheme to defraud the United States of overharvested and unreported fluke, according to officials from the U.S. Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division. Wertz, who operates the F/V Norseman, admitted in August that he knowingly submitted 137 falsified dealer reports from May 2009 through December 2011 and 70 falsified fishing logs, known as Fishing Vessel Trip Reports (FVTRs), from May 2011 through December 2011, according to a Justice Department release.

Cops: East Meadow Pair Tried to Steal Winning $1 Million Lotto Ticket: An East Meadow father and son were arrested in November after they allegedly tried to steal a $1 million lottery ticket and keep the winnings for themselves. According to police, the 34-year-old man entered Peninsula Deli & Grocery in Hempstead and purchased a $10 "Unwrap the Cash" ticket. After believing he won, he handed the ticket to Karim Jaghab, 26, the store owner's son. Jaghab ran the ticket through the machine and got the following message. "File Claim: Jackpot Winner - Please Return Original Ticket To The Customer Along With A Claim Receipt." Jaghab told the victim he won $1,000, which he was paid in cash, disobeying the New York Lottery's protocol. The winning ticket was for $1 million. The victim returned to the store, believing he had won more. Nabil Jaghab, 57, confirmed his son's account, saying the victim was entitled to $10,000. The victim called police. Both father and son were arrested without incident and were charged with second-degree grand larceny.

East Meadow Man Acquitted of Manslaughter: A jury acquitted an East Meadow man of manslaughter in November stemming from a three-car crash in 2011 that killed an off-duty New York City police officer from Massapequa. Jonathan Lopez, 22, was convicted of the lesser charges against him, including assault, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. He faces up to one year in jail and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 16.

Judge: Diner Owners Must Pay $338K to Underpaid Employees: In November, a judge ordered the owners of East Meadow's Colony Diner to pay $338,000 to dozens of employees they intentionally underpaid and fork up more than $60,000 in back taxes and fines, according to the Nassau County District Attorney's office. Judge Valarie Alexander sentenced cousins Tassos (Thomas) Strifas, of Merrick, and George Strifas, of East Hills, to a three-year conditional discharge on condition of payment of full restitution to the victims totaling approximately $338,000, plus back taxes and fines worth approximately $64,000. An additional $164,000 in liquidated damages will be paid to Colony Diner employees pursuant to a federal court order.

East Meadow United Methodist Church Vandalized: In November, vandalism was discoveredf on the grounds of East Meadow United Methodist Church, where church officials found the rope to the American flag cut and the church sign changed to read "Hitler." The sign was removed as soon as it was discovered.

Swastika Carved into Car on East Meadow Avenue: A swastika was found carved into the hood of a car in June in East Meadow. According to Nassau County detectives, around 12:20 a.m., a 23-year-old man discovered a swastika carved into the hood of his 2006 Honda that was parked in the lot of 197 East Meadow Ave.

Swastikas Found on East Meadow Sidewalk: In April, two swastikas were discovered on an East Meadow sidewalk, officers said. According to detectives, the swastikas were drawn in chalk at Andrea Road and Sherwood Road.

Woman Robbed in Stop & Shop Parking Lot: A woman was robbed of her pocketbook in October as she loaded groceries into her car in the parking lot of the East Meadow Stop & Shop, Nassau County Third Squad detectives said. The incident occurred at 3:30 p.m. According to detectives, the 54-year-old victim was approached by an African American man wearing a hooded sweatshirt that was covering his face. The subject pushed the victim against her car and forcibly ripped her pocketbook from her shoulder, police said, and then jumped onto a black mountain bike.

Accused East Meadow Purse Snatcher Caught: A New Jersey woman was arrested in October after she was allegedly responsible for a string of thefts, including one in East Meadow. According to police, on Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m., Cathleen Toomey, 29, of Gloucester City, and another suspect allegedly broke into a car parked at New York Sports Club in East Meadow and stole a pocketbook. She was also charged in connection with a burglary and two other pocketbook thefts.

East Meadow Man Busted For Drug Possession: An East Meadow man was arrested for drugs possession after police found marijuana, cocaine and more inside his Park Avenue home Oct.1, according to Nassau County's Narcotics/Vice Bureau. James J. Capolino, 34, was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance after officers discovered 7 ounces of marijuana, 99 Hydrocodone pills, 93-and-a-half Alprazolam pills, 34 Acetaminophen w/codeine pills, four Acetaminophen and Hydrcodone pills, five Suboxone Sublingual films, two bags of cocaine containing in excess of a half-ounce of cocaine, and $339 cash inside the residence, according to a police report.

East Meadow Man Charged with Burglary: An East Meadow man was among three who were arrested for burglaries between Sept. 23-30, cops said. According to police, on Sept. 30, at 12:20 a.m., a burglary occurred at Locust Valley Chemists, and a second incident took place at 1:10 a.m. at Glen Head Pharmacy. In both incidents, the suspects broke the front glass and stole pharmaceuticals, cops said. Officers responding to the Glen Head burglary saw Casey Arena, 19, of Hicksville, inside the store. He allegedly attempted to flee but was apprehended. Additionally, Steven Rose, 20, of Hicksville and Steven Cross, 21, of East Meadow fled the scene in a white car, police said.

East Meadow-Based Doctor Convicted in LIRR Fraud Scheme: An East Meadow-based orthopedist was one of three people convicted in August in Manhattan federal court for his participation in a massive fraud scheme in which Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) employees claimed to be disabled upon early retirement so that they could receive federal disability benefits to which they were not entitled. The three defendants -- Peter Lesniewski, 62, of Rockville Centre, Marie Baran, 65, of East Meadow, and Joseph Rutigliano, 66, of Holtsville -- were convicted on all counts charged following a three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, bringing the total number of defendants convicted in this case up to 28.

Maurice Avenue Break-In Rattles Sleeping Resident: An early morning break-in on Maurice Avenue July 23 rattled a neighbor sleeping inside, Nassau County's First Squad reports. The incident occurred at 7:55 a.m., according to police. The sleeping resident first heard the front door bell ring before hearing a "loud crash" at the back door, police said. The resident screamed upon hearing the noise and immediately dialed 911 and looked out the window to see an African American male in his twenties fleeing the scene westbound on Maurice Avenue, according to a police report.

Cops: East Meadow Man Caught Stealing from Dunkin Donuts: An East Meadow man who was the manager at a Dunkin Donuts in Manhasset has been charged with stealing more than $13,000 from the business. According to police, the owner of Dunkin Donuts was reviewing the business' banking, and he realized that $10,500 in deposits was not made. He confronted Raveenthran Priyatharsan, 30, who allegedly admitted to taking the money.

EM Man, His Alleged Dealer Busted on Drug Charges: Nassau police arrested an East Meadow man and his alleged drug dealer in front of a N. Jerusalem Rd. restaurant in July. According to detectives, on July 21 Nicholas Barclay, 21, of East Meadow received a large quantity of marijuana from a man in front of Il Vizio restaurant located at 2485 N. Jerusalem Road. Barclay was stopped by detectives at 9:15 p.m. and placed under arrest without incident. Detectives then returned to 2485 N. Jerusalem Avenue July 22 and at 11:10 p.m. observed John Pisciotta, 27, of Howard Beach entering a van, police said. They identified him as the man who supplied the marijuana to Barclay the night before, according to a police report. A car stop was conducted and Pisciotta was found to be in possession of an undisclosed amount of marijuana, 30 Oxycodone pills, 85 capsules of Winstrol, an undisclosed amount of cocaine, a capsule of Molly (MDMA) and 42 unmarked white pills, police said. He was placed under arrest without incident.

NUMC Bomb Scare False Alarm: A homeless man from Westbury was arrested in July after allegedly calling Nassau University Medical Center claiming there was a bomb inside the hospital, according to Nassau County Third Squad detectives. Victor Perez, 48, made an anonymous call from a Westbury payphone at 11:43 p.m. Tuesday, according to a police report. The call prompted a thorough search of the medical center, both inside and outside the building, with no findings, according to the police report. A subsequent investigation by detectives led them to Perez, who was located in New Cassel and placed under arrest without incident, according to police.

Report: Woman Assaulted in Speno Park: A woman was sexually assaulted in Speno Park in July, according to an Eyewitness News report. The attack happened around 3 a.m.

Cops: East Meadow Woman Stabbed Boyfriend with Scissors: An East Meadow woman was arrested in May after she allegedly stabbed her boyfriend with a pair of scissors, police said. According to police, Alveena Chaudry, 24, was seated in her vehicle with her 40-year-old boyfriend at Sheridan Boulevard and Raff Avenue in Mineola. A verbal confrontation occurred over the relationship and quickly escalated. Chaudry then removed a pair of scissors from her pocketbook and stabbed the victim in the right shoulder, police said.

East Meadow Man Charged With Public Assistance Fraud: In May, an East Meadow man was charged and arrested for public assistance fraud, according to the district attorney's office. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that 12 people were arrested and charged for stealing more than a combined $370,000 in Medicaid, food stamps and other taxpayer-funded public assistance benefits, including Eric Engvaldsen, 48, who pleaded guilty to third-degree welfare fraud. 

Crash Leads to East Meadow Mom's DWI Arrest: Kirsten Schneider, 46, of East Meadow was arrested on DWI charges Feb. 4 after she was involved in a car accident that injured her 10-year-old son, police said.

East Meadow Man Arrested After Pursuit and Injuring Officer: Robert Stein, 54, of East Meadow, was arrested Jan. 25 in an incident that injured a police officer and led police on a pursuit into Nassau County, Suffolk County Police said.

Police: East Meadow Man Blinded Restaurant Worker in Assault: An East Meadow man was arrested in January for an October 2012 assault that left a 36-year-old Hicksville restaurant employee blind in one eye, police said. According to Nassau County detectives, Premaras Selvaratnam was having dinner with friends on Oct. 19, 2012 at the Copper Wok restaurant, located at 16 West Marie St. in Hicksville. Police said that during the meal, Selvaratnam and his friends began causing a disturbance. After being asked to leave by a restaurant employee, Selvaratnam got up and hit the employee in the head with a bar stool. The strike from the bar stool caused lacerations to the employee's head and a severe eye injury. Police said that the victim has lost sight in his left eye due to the injury.

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