A pair of East End men were among nine people arrested for their parts in one of the biggest gun-running rings in Suffolk County history — an operation that ran along the “Iron Pipeline” from the south, prosecutors said on June 27.
Investigators have evidence the alleged gun runners were involved in 63 illegal gun sales on 50 different dates, all culminating on June 23, District Attorney Tim Sini said. All together, 56 guns — including 46 handguns, two assault weapons, and one fully-automatic 9 mm Norinco rifle, commonly referred to as an Uzi — were confiscated in the bust.
“This is a killing machine,” said Sini as he displayed the Uzi, which has automatic capabilities and can be fitted with a magazine holding up to 50 rounds, at a press conference in Hauppauge. “It does not belong on the streets of Suffolk County.”
Six of the guns confiscated had been reported stolen, one from a location in Hampton Bays. Four of the weapons had been used in shootings in the county, though none were used on the East End, according to Sini.
Sini said the guns were traced to 15 different states, including New York, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Nine were defaced to make it impossible to trace them, he said.
“This is critical. The illegal sale of guns is directly related to gun crimes. By cracking down on these illegal sales and taking these weapons off our streets, we are effectively preventing gun violence,” Sini said.
Jaason Hartmann, 21, of Riverhead, was involved in at least 14 gun sales, “sometimes selling multiple weapons in those transactions,” Sini said. Hartmann faces a maximum of 25 years in prison with a potential for consecutive sentencing, according to Sini.
He pleaded not guilty to felony charges of first- and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon at his arraignment in Riverhead Town Justice Court on Tuesday, June 26. His bail was set at $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond.
Hartmann’s attorney, Richard Pellegrino of Riverhead, declined comment on the case.
Montaigne Henderson, 25, of East Quogue, was involved in at least one gun sale for which he was arrested by Southampton Town police. He also pleaded not guilty to felony charges of third-degree criminal sale of a firearm and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon at his arraignment in Riverhead Town Justice Court, also on Tuesday. Henderson’s bail was set at $75,000 cash or $500,000 bond.
His attorney, Edward Burke of Noyac, was not available for comment on the case. If convicted, Henderson faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Hartmann and Henderson were two of a total of nine people rounded up in the investigation.
The nine arrests were part of a “long-term investigation” by county detectives assigned to the DA’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The Southampton and Riverhead town police departments also assisted in the investigation, with the latter playing a “critical role” in the execution of search warrants, Sini said.
Sini would not provide details about the investigation, but said investigators used covert electronic surveillance, including wiretapping. He said it was the first investigation of its kind to use wiretapping since he took office.
“This was a great case, not just to remove guns from the streets, but also to take out this operation that was arming dangerous people,” Sini said.
At the center of the gun-running operation was Yasmine White, 25, of Mastic Beach, who, Sini said, with the assistance of her brother, her father, and others, including Hartmann and Henderson, made illegal gun sales, with investigators obtaining evidence she “facilitated” 45 of the sales and was present for 22 of them, over the period of a year.
She is charged with first- and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm, and second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Her father, Timothy White Sr., 46, of Mastic Beach, was involved in at least four gun sales and was charged with second-and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm, all felonies.
Her brother, Timothy White Jr., 22, of North Bellport, was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting and killing James Skinner, a 50-year-old Queens man, outside a house party in North Bellport on Father’s Day, June 17, Sini said. He was also involved in at least 11 gun sales for which he was charged with second- and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, Sini said.
Both father and son are “confirmed” Bloods street gang members, Sini said.
All three pleaded on not guilty at their arraignments before Judge Gaetan B. Lozito in First District Court in Central Islip June 27.
Yasmine White’s court-appointed attorney, Eric Besso of Sayville, told Lozito she “denies the allegations.” He noted White is a mother or two children, including a three- and four-year-old, and requested lower bail for her.
Lozito, noting previous criminal charges White faces, including one warrant for a misdemeanor charge that she missed a court appearance for, set her bail at $300,000 cash or $750,000 bond.
If convicted, White faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.
White Sr., whose bail was set at $150,000 cash or $300,000 bond, faces up to 15 years in prison with the potential of consecutive sentencing, Sini said. White Jr.’s bail was set at $350,000 cash or $700,000 bond. He faces up to 25 years in prison on the murder charge alone, and a maximum of 15 years in relation to the gun-running charges.
A sixth person arrested in the gun-running ring, Hector Rodriguez, 44, of East Patchogue, was involved in at least one sale for which he was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a firearm, and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, according to Sini. Rodriguez also pleaded not guilty before Lozito.
His attorney, Peter Henry Mayer of Hauppauge, said Rodriguez has lived at his current address since 2004 and is “gainfully employed” as a tow truck driver. He said Rodriguez’s daughter and son were in the courtroom to show their support and explained the family would only be able to raise about $1000 in bail. However, Lozito denied the request for lower bail, noting Rodriguez’s “extensive prior contacts” with the criminal justice system, including multiple felony convictions, and set bail at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. Rodriguez faces up to 15 years in prison, if convicted of the gun-running charges.
Three other individuals are in custody on unrelated charges, but are facing “varying” charges as part of the investigation, Sini said. They include Trayrone Booker, 24, of Shirley; Justin Braunskill, 31, of Mastic Beach; and Daquan Garrison, 27, of Bellport.
June 27, 2018 – A pair of East End men were among nine people arrested in the breakup of a gun-running ring that followed the ‘Iron Pipeline’ from the South to Suffolk County, prosecutors said on Wednesday, June 27.