10/18/13 2:46pm

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | A Highway Department worker, after a plea deal earlier this month, will be sentenced November 18 in Shelter Island Justice Court.

Shelter Island Town Board members are continuing to deliberate the future employment of Highway Department worker Jeffrey Starzee, 47, since he pleaded guilty to a charge of endangering the welfare of a child in a plea agreement.

The victim was a 16-year-old girl when the crime was committed.

Mr. Starzee had originally been charged with sexual abuse in the third degree along with the endangering charge.

Sentencing in Shelter Island Justice Court is slated for November 18.

The crime Mr. Starzee pleaded guilty to carries a sentence of up to one year in jail. But the  plea deal — announced in open court October 3 — means Mr. Starzee will be placed on probation for three years and must comply with a stay-away order prohibiting any interaction with the victim for five years. Other conditions of the plea agreement have been accepted by both the defense and prosecution, but weren’t spelled out in the court record.

In accepting Mr. Starzee’s plea, Judge Mary-Faith Westervelt said, “I need to know that you are actually guilty.”

With that, she turned questioning over to Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney William Nash. He referred Mr. Starzee to the months of June through December 2012, asking if in that time frame he had engaged in “an inappropriate relationship with the alleged victim.”
Mr. Starzee’s one word reply was, “Yes.”

“As a result of that relationship, did you, in fact, endanger the physical and mental or moral welfare of that aforementioned victim?” Mr. Nash asked.

Again, Mr. Starzee answered, “Yes.”

With that, Judge Westervelt reminded Mr. Starzee that an order of protection remained in place and told him the court would await a pre-sentencing investigation that could further inform conditions of probation.

“Please to do not be re-arrested on any charge,” Judge Westervelt cautioned the defendant.

Although initially Supervisor Jim Dougherty said the Town Board would await the court sentencing before acting on Mr. Starzee’s continued employment with the Highway Department, on Friday, he said the issue is being discussed and the Town Board is consulting with counsel and with Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr.

“We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing,” Mr. Dougherty said. He referred to trying to follow “precedent” with regard to disciplining town workers, but declined to say what the precedent was or whether it occurred during his administration.

The Ethics Code contained in the Shelter Island Municipal Code states, “Each town employee shall endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his trust.”

The town’s contract with the Highway Benevolent Association makes no specific mention of disciplinary action, but the New York State Department of Civil Service Manual of Procedures in Disciplinary Actions says public sector employees can be removed for misconduct.

“Although there is increased public and judicial scrutiny in this area, the notion that public employees may be disciplined or separated from public service only under the most extreme circumstances, and solely for the gravest offenses, is utterly untrue,” the manual says.

08/19/13 4:40pm

REPORTER FILE PHOTO

The case brought by Shelter Island Police against Thomas C. Green, 24, of Ronkonkoma — originally charged here with rape,  sexual abuse plus endangering the welfare of a child among other charges — has been transferred to Suffolk County Criminal Court.

Information on the exact charges pending in Suffolk County and the date of Mr. Green’s next court appearance were not yet available.

That was the word from the District Attorney’s office Monday morning. Mr. Green had been scheduled to be back in Shelter Island Justice Court before Judge Helen Rosenblum following his August 7 arrest here, before it was learned that the case has been transferred.

Mr. Green had been arrested on Shelter Island August 7 and had been held at the Suffolk Country Correctional Facility in lieu of $25,000 bail.

His arrest capped an almost three-month investigation by Shelter Island Police involving a girl who turned 16 during that investigation, according to Detective Sergeant Jack Thilberg.

07/09/13 3:18pm

More than four months after the arrest of a Shelter Island Town Highway Department worker on two misdemeanor counts — endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse in the third degree, the case is still awaiting a court hearing.

The grindingly slow process of “discovery” is still taking place between the Suffolk County District Attorney and defense counsel for Jeffrey Starzee, 47.

The case involves charges brought by Shelter Island Police involving an alleged relationship with an under-aged teenage girl. Mr. Starzee has pleaded not guilty to the charges, with his attorney maintaining that when all the information is unveiled in court, his client will be exonerated. Mr. Starzee, a union worker, continues his job at the Highway Department pending resolution of the case.

The case was expected to move forward Monday morning, but Brian DeSesa, Mr. Starzee’s attorney, said he has not received all of the information the district attorney has on which the case against Mr. Starzee hinges. By law, that material must be turned over to the defense counsel.

Mr. DeSesa said in a telephone call Monday that he continues to communicate with the district attorney and hopes the case can move forward on the next court date, July 22.

William Nash, who is trying the case for the district attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment.