After last winter’s budget-busting storms, some municipalities propose spending less on snow removal

Long Island towns and cities that broke their snow removal budgets last winter are proposing to spend $12 million less in 2016 than they spent last year, according to a Newsday review.

Despite the lessons from last year, when 12 municipalities overspent by $15.2 million — causing deficits, borrowing and snow taxes — officials across the Island say they are under pressure to stick to the state’s lowest-ever property tax cap — 0.73 percent — and could not draft bigger snow removal budgets. Those towns are proposing to add a combined $3.1 million to their budgets for this winter, according to a review of proposed and adopted budgets. The property tax cap has not fallen below 1 percent since it was imposed in 2012. It was 1.56 percent in 2015.

Some municipal officials describe the past two winters as anomalies. With these budgets, they are, in effect, rolling the dice that this winter will be different.

Those winters dumped roughly triple the average snowfall, with 63.3 inches falling at Islip MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma last winter, and 55.3 inches from January through April of 2014, according to the National Weather Service’s Upton bureau. The average for the first four months of the year on Long Island is 19 inches of snowfall. The 21.6 degree average for February was the lowest ever recorded at the airport since the weather service began tracking temperatures there in 1985.

Brookhaven overspent its $3.67 million snow removal budget last winter by $7.7 million for a total of $11.4 million. This year the town board has proposed a $5.68 million snow removal budget — up significantly from $2.6 million in 2013, when the town was criticized for slow snow removal. The past two winters cost Brookhaven a total of roughly $21 million.

LI towns’ snow removal spending in 2015 and proposed budget for 2016

“You’re not going to tax for a $10 million snow removal because it’s such an anomaly,” Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro said.

Two towns that exceeded their budgets by several million dollars have reduced their snow removal budgets for 2016 to below the amount set last year. Islip Town, which last winter spent about $1.6 million more than its $2.4 million budget for snow removal, has proposed a budget that is $400,000 below last year’s budget line. East Hampton, which spent more than double the $432,000 allocated for snow removal this year, approved a $30,000 reduction below last year’s baseline amount.

By not keeping the 2016 budgets in line with actual costs, officials could be setting towns and cities up for future deficits, experts say. To cover actual snow removal costs in the past, budget officials turned to borrowing, amended their original budgets, or dipped into contingency and reserve funds. This year Brookhaven residents will again be taxed a “snow note” — between $50 and $60 expected this year — to cover any overages.

Other towns are budgeting for increases from last year’s amounts, but still short of what they actually spent. In Babylon, for example, the snow removal budget is $900,000, up by $300,000. The town spent roughly $1.1 million last winter.

Stephen Lynch, superintendent of highways for East Hampton, said he worked to keep the budget within the town’s cap.

“My budget is tight,” Lynch said. He said he did not think it would be fair to ask for more money from the taxpayers and end up not needing it.

Not all municipalities exceeded their snow removal lines in 2015, including Riverhead and the City of Long Beach, which was under by $115,000 and dropped its budget by $15,000.

Only two towns on Long Island that busted the budget in 2015 followed up with a 2016 budget bigger than 2015’s actual costs. North Hempstead exceeded its $726,000 budget by more than $280,000 last winter, and increased the line to $1.03 million for 2016, about $17,000 more than what was spent in 2015. Shelter Island, population 2,300 and where ferry fees drive a portion of the snow removal costs, exceeded the $90,000 snow removal line by $4,600, and has followed up with a $100,000 budget.

“We see that we need to allocate more funding for snow removal, to make sure we’re presenting a budget that will accurately reflect the needs we’re facing,” North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth said.

LI towns’ snow removal spending in 2015

The bar indicates by how much towns went over or under their planned budgets. Hover over each bar for details.

North Hempstead officials had originally proposed a smaller increase to the snow removal budget — by $201,000 — in the first draft of the budget that was due by Sept. 30. However, officials reconsidered the figure and added another $98,000 for the town’s second budget draft.

Bosworth said the approach is not to “make a wish on a star to say we won’t have the same kind of snow; we may have the same kind of winter.”

Jeffrey Griswold, president of the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, said “the old days of just putting a 2 or 3 percent increase,” on snow removal budgets “are gone” in the era of property tax caps.

“It’s a point that brings everybody to the table,” Griswold said. “At that point, you got to go back to the taxpayers: What can they afford?”

East Hampton’s Lynch said officials used a $2 million surplus this year — but those surplus accounts statewide may shrink steadily along with the tax cap over the next few years. However, Lynch said officials are keeping an eye on weather patterns to see if the trend holds.

“If we get the same thing all over again, then we’ll take a different approach to it,” Lynch said.

LI towns snow removal budget details

Towns 2015 budget 2015 actual cost 2016 budget (proposed or adopted)
Brookhaven $3,673,125 $11,422,715 $5,684,546
Huntington $1,894,145 $5,049,300 $2,188,908
Islip $2,415,000 $4,045,487 $2,050,000
Hempstead $2,800,000 $3,311,640 $2,925,000
Oyster Bay $1,869,533 $2,134,615 $2,100,000
Smithtown $1,358,000 $1,988,516 $1,450,000
Babylon $600,000 $1,075,000 $900,000
North Hempstead $726,058 $1,007,600 $1,025,000
East Hampton $432,000 $800,156 $404,433
Glen Cove $200,000 $285,174 $250,000
Southold $417,000 $505,875 $479,000
Shelter Island $90,000 $94,623 $100,000
Riverhead $275,000 $244,022 $275,000
Long Beach $260,000 $145,845 $245,000

Data visualizations by Ann Choi

Jack Franqui jail suicide Day 1

On Jan. 23, 2013, one of Long Island’s coldest nights in years, Jack Franqui shivered in a Suffolk County Police Department holding cell wearing only his socks and underwear, his bruised body soaked in toilet water. He had been ranting for hours that the cops had unfairly targeted him and that he planned to leave his cell in a body bag.

He fashioned a noose from a pair of bluejeans knotted to the bars of his cell. It was the third time in a matter of hours that Franqui — a 26-year-old man from Rocky Point booked on misdemeanor charges — had tied something to the bars. Officers on duty at the Seventh Precinct in Shirley had already confiscated a blanket and Franqui’s T-shirt in separate incidents. But officers ignored protocol and failed to put Franqui under closer supervision or transport him to a hospital.

A medical examiner would later state that it takes roughly ten minutes for somebody to die by hanging the way Franqui did. During that time, the only other prisoner in the cellblock said he faced a surveillance camera, made frantic gestures toward Franqui’s cell and screamed for officers to come save the dying man.

When nobody came, he gave up. He heard gasping, bones cracking and then silence.

An officer eventually noticed Franqui’s dangling body on a closed-circuit monitor.

“What is this guy doing now?” the officer, Joseph Simeone, remarked.


Read Part 2

Franqui’s body was cold to the touch by the time officers made it to the cellblock. Deciding there was no point in trying to resuscitate him, officers left Franqui’s body hanging in his makeshift noose.

The homicide detectives who arrived soon after began to piece together what had gone wrong. The officers on duty kept records documenting prisoner checks that may not have actually occurred. The officers failed to act not only after Franqui had tied two items to the bars, but also despite obvious signs of erratic behavior witnessed by the other prisoner including banging his head repeatedly against the wall, drenching himself in toilet water and begging to be taken to the hospital.

Detectives found that an intercom system that pipes in sound from the cellblock to where officers were stationed 70 feet away had been switched off. And officers had turned up the volume on a TV they were watching loud enough to drown out the other prisoner’s screams for help.

Suffolk County’s law enforcement officials did not tell the public this story of failure and neglect. Instead, the department contradicted its own internal documents in saying that Franqui was calm, at ease and showed “no indication” that he was suicidal before he took officers by surprise and suddenly killed himself.

Franqui’s family got the same story, and for months, they had no choice but to assume it was the truth.


There’s an increasing burden on police officers to deal with mental health issues requiring a law enforcement response. Suffolk officers transported 4,273 people, most of them involuntarily, to a psychiatric ward in 2014. The number has risen steadily every year since 2008, when Suffolk officers transported 2,524 people for psychiatric care.

SCPD cadets receive hours of training on how to handle encounters with the mentally ill, and the department’s rules and procedures call for “compassionate, safe and effective handling” of those dealing with “possible mental/emotional issues.”

“You’re dealing with good people, but they’re suffering from this illness,” said SCPD Sgt. Colleen Cooney, speaking in general and not about Jack Franqui. “And the officer has to realize that they may not be behaving in their best way because they’re dealing with this illness, which might make them dangerous to themselves or others.”

Before Franqui’s clash with local law enforcement in December 2011, he led what was on the surface an unremarkable life. After attending Rocky Point High, he lived in a rented 720-square-foot, cream-colored duplex on Xylo Road, drove a Honda and owned a dog named Dog.

Franqui’s friends said he liked to unwind after work by playing Xbox while smoking marijuana. He worked as a chef at the American Red Cross, where he cooked meals for the elderly. After his death, some of the older women who worked with him there would take the time to write remembrances of the goofy, lanky young man who called them “Auntie” and was famous for his “egg in a boat breakfasts.”

An only child whose parents had divorced when he was a teenager, Franqui spent time on the nearby Long Island Sound, kayaking or puttering on a 12-foot motorboat owned by his father, Joaquin Franqui, who like five generations of men dating back to Spanish roots also goes by Jack.

“He was my fishing buddy,” the elder Franqui, a facilities manager at Stony Brook University, said of his son. “He was my constant companion. We did everything together.”

When he learned that Franqui had killed himself in a precinct holding cell, he recalled an incident from when his son was 17. One day his son came home with a puncture wound to his stomach and told his father that some guys had jumped him. But the elder Franqui always suspected the wound was self-inflicted.


Kristy Repp, Franqui’s onetime girlfriend, said he had untreated mental problems and had threatened suicide “at least five or six” times when she attempted to break up with him.

“Anybody who’s taken Psych 101 would tell you that he was bipolar,” Repp said.

Repp said she finally decided to call the authorities on the morning of Dec. 1, 2011. She was with Franqui at his home as he threatened suicide while “loading a shotgun and putting it into his mouth.”

Repp said she expected an ambulance. “I didn’t expect the police force to show up like he had just robbed the bank,” Repp said.

Officers flooded a narrow Rocky Point road before noon on a Thursday, making for a chaotic scene and perhaps explaining why officers later filed statements that were inconsistent on two key claims: whether Franqui stepped outside his house with a gun, and whether he fired it at an officer.

In charging documents, two officers at the scene attested that Franqui was outside his house brandishing a loaded .38 Special. However, a third officer alleged only that she witnessed Franqui announce that “he had a gun in his pocket” when he exited his house.

Repp said she watched the incident unfold from a nearby driveway, roughly 200 feet away. She denied that Franqui brought a gun outside, although that was ultimately the charge for which he would be convicted. She said Franqui stood in the middle of the street, unarmed and wearing only his boxer shorts, yelling at the officers.

Franqui then ran inside, and Repp said she watched through the ajar front door as Franqui grabbed a gun. Officers reported that as Franqui was “kicking and wrestling” with police Officer Douglas Libonati, he fractured the officer’s hand. Franqui was finally subdued, but not before he “shot a loaded firearm” at Officer Kevin Corrigan, according to complaints filed by two officers.

Repp disputed that, saying that after Franqui ran inside his house, he put a revolver to his own face as the officers surrounded him. “They kicked the door in and the gun shot off behind him and went in the ceiling,” Repp said.

Corrigan himself filed a report reinforcing the narrative that Franqui had taken a shot at him. In a criminal complaint, Corrigan stated that Franqui “fired a functioning handgun in close proximity and in the direction of your deponent [Corrigan] and striking the ceiling.”

Two of the officers who were at the scene of that 2011 arrest would be called to testify before grand jurors investigating Franqui’s 2013 suicide. They are not identified by name, but their testimony as to what happened that day, as summarized by a grand jury report, does not contradict Repp’s version of events.

Jack Franqui suicide timeline The events leading up to and after 26-year-old Jack Franqui killed himself while in a Suffolk jail cell.

01 December 2011

Franqui following the Dec. 2011 arrest. Photo credit: Anthony Grandinette

Franqui discharges weapon in struggle with police

Suffolk police arrest Jack Franqui at his home after responding to a 911 call that he was suicidal. During a struggle, Franqui’s gun goes off and a bullet hits the ceiling. An officer reports that Franqui fired the gun at him, though Franqui is never charged with attempted murder and is ultimately convicted of second-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon. Unable to make bail, he remains jailed until he is released on probation in December 2013.

09 January 2013

Police raid his father's house

Police and a probation officer raid Franqui’s father's house, where Franqui is staying in the garage. Officers find a misdemeanor amount of marijuana and a slingshot Franqui said he had since he was a child. He is charged with felony possession of a weapon for the slingshot. He spends nine days in jail.

23 January 2013

DAY OF SUICIDE

Franqui, driving a recently purchased, rusted 1972 Cadillac Eldorado, visits his friend, Simon Earl, at Earl’s house in Shoreham.

10:30 am - 10:45 am

DAY OF SUICIDE

A nearby resident spots Franqui and Earl in the old Cadillac. Thinking "something was not right," he calls 911 to report a suspicious vehicle.

11:12 am

Franqui is pictured with his dog in an undated photo. Credit: Franqui family

DAY OF SUICIDE

Suffolk County police officer Karen Grenia responds to the call. When she learns that the Cadillac is registered to Franqui, she holds Franqui at gunpoint. By Grenia's count, 10 to 15 officers respond to the scene to assist her. Although they have no warrant, police enter Earl’s home and search it, finding nothing illegal. Franqui is arrested on misdemeanor charges, including driving while high on marijuana and resisting arrest, and suffers multiple injuries during the arrest. Grenia reports that Franqui ordered his "Pinscher" to attack her, and Lt. John "Jack" Fitzpatrick publicly lauds Grenia’s "quick instincts" in thwarting an attack by Franqui’s "Doberman." Franqui's dog -- named Dog -- is actually a Manchester terrier, small enough to ride on the bow of his kayak.

2:25 pm

The detention area is shown on June 8, 2000. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

DAY OF SUICIDE

Franqui is locked in a holding cell at the Seventh Precinct in Shirley. An officer’s activity log notes that Franqui is "being treated for antianxiety but doesn't need medication at this time."

2:45 pm - 3:00 pm

DAY OF SUICIDE

An unnamed officer confiscates a blanket that Franqui was tying to the bars. John Burke is placed two cells away from Franqui's. They are the only two jailed in that area of the facility, which has eight cells. Franqui and Burke, who can see each other in the reflective domes of the jail security cameras facing their cells, strike up a conversation. Franqui tells Burke the police have unfairly targeted him and unnecessarily beat him. He threatens to “hang up.”

5:35 pm

DAY OF SUICIDE

Franqui's mother calls the precinct and says her son is being "harassed" by police. She asks to speak to her son or a precinct commander. Sgt. Kevin O'Reilly, the desk supervisor, tells Franqui’s mother that she can speak with her son the next day and hangs up on her, later reporting that she was “belligerent."

5:40 pm

Simeone leaves the Suffolk PD Property Bureau in Yaphank, Sept. 28, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

DAY OF SUICIDE

Officer Joseph Simeone is responsible for checking on Franqui. It's recorded on an activity log that Franqui's T-shirt is confiscated because he was tying it to his cell bars.

6:25 pm

DAY OF SUICIDE

Desk officers discover that Franqui is dead after he tied his jeans to the bars of his cell and hung himself.

7:00 pm

DAY OF SUICIDE

Homicide detectives arrive at the precinct to investigate Franqui's death. They interview Burke, who tells them that Franqui had repeatedly threatened to kill himself, that officers had confiscated Franqui’s shirt to stop a previous apparent suicide attempt and that officers had ignored Franqui’s requests for medical attention. Burke also states that Franqui had shown other signs of erratic behavior, such as banging his head against the wall and dunking his head in the cell toilet. Burke reports that when he saw Franqui hang himself, he screamed for officers and gestured wildly in the hopes that officers would see him on the closed-circuit security cameras. Homicide detectives discovered that officers at the precinct had switched off the intercom system that allows them to monitor sounds in the cell and that the volume on the TV they were watching had been turned up.

24 January 2013

The official account

In newspaper stories published the day following Franqui's death, Fitzpatrick is quoted as saying that Franqui was calm and that there was "no indication he was suicidal." Franqui’s family receives no other information.

22 March 2013

Burke is pictured in a mugshot taken Jan. 23, 2013. Credit: SCPD

Fellow prisoner calls Franqui's father

Burke is released from jail and he reads Fitzpatrick’s quote about Franqui’s suicide. He contacts Franqui’s father, who he has never met before, to tell him that Fitzpatrick lied and to give him a full account of what he witnessed. Franqui’s father contacts an attorney.

09 April 2013

Officer performs traffic stop on witness

Grenia pulls over Earl, Franqui's friend who witnessed his arrest, allegedly for not using a turn signal. Grenia acknowledges in sworn testimony that she called for backup, had Earl patted down, took his cell phone from him and entered the back seat of his vehicle. She also acknowledges that after Franqui’s death, she had driven her squad car into Earl’s family's driveway to record license plate numbers. In a lawsuit, Earl's family claims that she was attempting to intimidate him because he had witnessed the Franqui incident. Earl’s turn signal violation is dismissed by a judge.

18 June 2013

State commission criticizes handling of similar death

The New York State Commission of Correction issues a report critical of how Suffolk law enforcement officials handled the death of another inmate, Daniel McDonnell, in a police precinct facility. McDonnell, who suffocated in a struggle with officers, suffered a "preventable death," the report states. The commission found that inmates said officers ignored McDonnell’s requests for medical attention and did not conduct the required inmate checks. The commission also criticized Suffolk police for not conducting a "comprehensive internal investigation" and Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota's office for failing to "conduct any investigation of this incident even though it was ruled a homicide and no investigative findings were ever brought before an independent grand jury to determine whether the use of force was justified and lawful." Spota calls the commission’s report "inaccurate and baseless."

29 October 2013

Franqui's family files suit

Franqui's family files a federal lawsuit against Suffolk County and its police department, claiming that Franqui was beaten by police, arrested on trumped-up charges and allowed to die in police custody.

08 January 2014

DA convenes special grand jury

Spota convenes a special grand jury to investigate Franqui's death, 350 days after the incident and the immediate homicide investigation which suggested culpability by officers. Spota grants immunity to Simeone and O'Reilly in exchange for their testimony, ensuring that the officers cannot be criminally prosecuted.

18 July 2014

Officer Simeone gets blamed

SCPD officials testify before the grand jury that Simeone erred in not documenting that he had confiscated a blanket from Franqui in the earlier suicide attempt, an incident about which Simeone had not informed homicide detectives.

21 July 2014

Simeone interviewed by Internal Affairs

SCPD's Internal Affairs Bureau officers interview Simeone for the first time concerning Franqui's death. Though the special grand jury ultimately recommends Simeone's "removal or disciplinary action as prescribed by law," no officer is fired as a result of Franqui's death. Instead, Simeone is transferred to the property bureau.

12 September 2014

Grand jury issues reports

The special grand jury issues two reports, calling Franqui's suicide "preventable" and blaming officer misconduct and neglect for his death. The reports propose a wide range of reforms, including maintaining precinct video recordings, recording desk officers, mandating that the intercom between the cells and the desk not be switched off, and measures aimed at the better handling of mentally ill prisoners. Although they are public records, the reports have not been shared with the public until now.

02 December 2015

Read Part 2

John Burke was two cells away from Franqui when he committed suicide. On the day Burke was released, he called Franqui’s dad and told him the cops had lied. Read Part 2 here

The report does not describe Franqui having a gun outside of the house, or firing on an officer. It only states that the officers “were able to get Franqui out of the house, but he attempted to go back into the house. Police officers gave chase and Franqui discharged a handgun into the ceiling during the ensuing struggle with police.”

Franqui was charged with several felonies, including menacing a police officer, reckless endangerment, second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. An officer also claimed in a misdemeanor charging document that Franqui possessed a .22 Derringer inside his house.

He was never charged with attempted murder of a police officer.

Yet within the Seventh Precinct, Franqui would be remembered as the guy who tried to shoot a cop.


Franqui filed a notice of claim against the Seventh Precinct in February 2012, alleging that he was physically beaten during the arrest at his home. He sought $7.2 million for personal injuries.

Repp said that Internal Affairs Bureau officers investigating the excessive force allegations visited her while Franqui was in jail.

She said she told them that during the arrest, officers shot Franqui with a Taser multiple times, “hogtied” him with black electrical tape and dragged him down the front steps of his house, “allowing his chin to hit every step.” Repp said officers kicked Franqui in the head and stomach and “took turns beating the crap out of him.”

According to Repp, who has no known criminal convictions, the IA investigators rewrote her statement “in the way they wanted it to sound.” She said, for example, that they refused to include in her statement that police had used electrical tape to hogtie Franqui.

Each time, “they either told me I was fabricating it, my words were wrong, or they just changed my words for me,” Repp said.

Anthony Grandinette, an attorney representing Franqui’s family in a civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court against Suffolk County and its police department, said Franqui spent three weeks in the hospital after his arrest due to injuries inflicted by police. An arrest warrant shows that officers took Franqui into custody at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson on Dec. 22, 2011, three weeks after his arrest. In applying for the warrant, a detective stated that Franqui was at the hospital for a “psychological evaluation.”

Franqui spent roughly a year after his arrest at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead because he was unable to post a $40,000 bond. He mailed to Repp from jail more than a dozen handwritten letters, which provide a manic portrait of his psyche while locked up.

“Maybe finally having you in my life did make me crazy but then I should be in a [psych] ward not in jail,” Franqui wrote in one letter spotted with blood, which he said came from cutting his hand in a fight. He said while in jail he had been forced to join a gang, “as much as I hate them.”

And he repeatedly accused the police of beating him up and lying about it.

“I know you were just scared and I don’t blame you but the people you called are even more [expletive] up than I am,” Franqui wrote of the police. “They had just been waiting for the chance to beat me up and put me behind bars and that’s why they are lying so much.”

Franqui wrote that the officers had trumped up the charges against him by falsely accusing him of exiting his house with a gun. The officer with the fractured hand, Franqui wrote, injured himself by punching Franqui unconscious. “I wasn’t trying to hurt the cops just myself,” Franqui wrote.

Franqui would plead guilty on Dec. 5, 2012, to second-degree felony attempted criminal possession of a weapon, resulting in a sentence of 6 months’ imprisonment and 5 years of probation, which included psychiatric and psychological conditions. Because Franqui had already spent a year at the Suffolk County jail, he was ordered released. A judge warned him that he faced 7 years in an upstate prison if he violated probation.

Franqui left jail certain that police would come up with a “brilliant plan” to set him up because he had filed the legal claim and accused them of brutality, according to his friend Kyle Fox, of Rocky Point. “He came out more looking over his shoulders because he was afraid the cops were going to get him,” Fox said.


Suffolk police and a probation officer raided Franqui’s dad’s house on Jan. 9, 2013, less than two months after Franqui had been released from jail. Franqui was living in his father’s garage because he had lost his job, his car and his home during his stint in jail.

Franqui’s father, Joaquin, said he was present when the raid occurred and that officers “stormed in the house yelling, with guns out.” Though Franqui’s sentence subjected him to random visits and searches by police and probation officers, available police documents do not explain the show of force that Joaquin Franqui said occurred.

A search of Franqui’s de facto bedroom resulted in two more criminal charges. One, for unlawful possession of marijuana, was for two clear plastic bags of the drug. Though an arrest report does not state the amount of marijuana, the charge is typically punishable by a fine not exceeding $100. Franqui — who had a cartoon of a pot leaf tattooed on his back — told officers that he smoked marijuana “because it helps me with my anxiety.”

The more serious charge against Franqui was for third-degree felony criminal possession of a weapon. As described in a police report, the confiscated weapon was a “wrist-brace type slingshot.”

“I actually didn’t even know it was there,” Franqui would tell the judge of the slingshot. He spent nine more days in Suffolk County’s Riverhead jail.

Franqui’s aunt, Michelle Dionisio, said her nephew got the slingshot when he was a boy. Dionisio said the weapons charge is evidence that Franqui’s paranoia was justified and that officers set out to harass her nephew as payback for the 2011 shooting.

“It would be different if this was a hardened criminal that would cause them to raid him like that,” Dionisio said. “What did they find? A slingshot, from when he was 10 to 12 years old.”


Four days after getting out of jail, Franqui again found himself staring at the barrel of a service weapon brandished by an officer of the SCPD’s Seventh Precinct.

On Jan. 23, 2013, a Wednesday morning in the midst of a brutal cold snap in which the temperature dipped to 10 degrees, Franqui drove with Dog to Shoreham in a rusted 1972 Cadillac Eldorado. He had recently acquired the car, his father said, for $200 and a crucifix necklace, and he wanted to show it off to his friend, Simon Earl.

A fellow resident of Earl’s upscale neighborhood would later tell the special grand jury that he had a feeling “something was not right” as he watched the driver of the old Cadillac move slowly through the neighborhood. Seeing a young man wearing a hoodie get into the vehicle, the resident said he feared potential burglaries. He called a retired police officer who lived nearby, and they called 911 to report a suspicious vehicle in the neighborhood.

Earl, in a hooded sweatshirt, was checking out his friend’s new ride as contractors worked on his parents’ home. From her patrol car, Suffolk Officer Karen Grenia ran the license plate number on the gold Cadillac parked in front of Earl’s home on Cordwood Path. A dispatcher responded that the car belonged to Franqui.

Grenia would later testify before the special grand jury that she recognized Franqui’s name, characterizing him as the person who had discharged a firearm at other Seventh Precinct police officers.

She pulled her gun and ordered Franqui out of the Cadillac, she told the special grand jury, “for fear that Franqui may have had another weapon.”

Darryl Moore, a contractor remodeling the Earl family’s home, recalled during a legal deposition that Grenia yelled, “Don’t F’in move” as she pointed her gun at Franqui. Grenia was “dropping F bombs, four-letter words,” Moore said.

Asked if he had ever witnessed such a scene, Moore responded, “Just on TV.” (According to court records, Grenia has been the subject of “at least 10” civilian complaints, most for “unprofessional language.”)

Grenia was “yelling extremely loud and giving inconsistent orders,” according to a sworn statement from Moore’s carpenter, Jay Moshier. “It was a volatile situation but both Simon and the person in the car remained calm and obeyed the female officer’s orders.”

Police reports, however, do not describe Franqui as compliant. Grenia later claimed in an arrest report that, with her gun trained on him, Franqui opened his door and told Dog: “Go get her.”

Grenia, referring to Franqui’s dog as a “pinscher,” wrote that the animal’s release was “only prevented” when she “slammed the vehicle door shut before the animal could exit.”

In his affidavit, carpenter Moshier stated of the claim that Franqui had ordered his dog to attack the officer, “I never observed that ever happen.” However, Grenia would be lauded by department brass for her quick instincts in thwarting the potential dog attack.

“He has a Doberman in the car and he said ‘get her,’ ” Det. Lt. John “Jack” Fitzpatrick, then-commander of the Suffolk homicide squad, told Newsday when recounting Franqui’s arrest for an article published the next day. “She’s so alert, she slams the door back closed.”

Dog is neither a Doberman nor a pinscher. He’s a Manchester terrier, small enough to stand on the bow of Franqui’s kayak as he paddled around Long Island Sound.


By Grenia’s count, 15 to 20 officers streamed to Cordwood Path to assist her arrest of Franqui, including an off-duty officer who lived nearby. At least two of the officers had also been on the scene during Franqui’s 2011 altercation.

Earl, a 27-year-old geology student with no criminal record, said he was just looking at the engine of Franqui’s Cadillac when Grenia unholstered her gun and pointed it at him. Moshier and Moore corroborated that account, and Grenia did not deny the allegation during a court appearance.

Moshier said he watched as Earl was handcuffed and put in the backseat of a police car, although he would not be charged with any crime.

According to Grenia’s deposition, police Officers Nicholas Robbins and Janine Lesiewicz — one of the officers at the 2011 incident — then entered Earl’s home. The house is owned by Earl’s parents, who were not there.

The officers walked throughout the house, riffling through ashtrays, mail and cabinets, the contractor, Moore, later said in sworn testimony. Moore said he asked one of the officers whether they had permission to enter the house, and the officer responded: “What, are you hiding something?”

Grenia, during her own deposition, said Earl invited an officer into the house while he searched for identification, which the officers needed as proof that he lived there. “We did not know, in fact, they did not just burglarize that house,” Grenia said.

In a joint lawsuit filed with Franqui’s estate, Earl’s family claims officers never had permission to enter their home and illegally searched it without a warrant. The suit alleges that Earl was wrongfully handcuffed, searched and detained despite no evidence that he had done anything illegal. The suit also claims Grenia continued to harass Earl because he was “a witness to the initial police misconduct against himself” and Franqui. Court records show that in April 2014, Suffolk County attempted to settle the lawsuit with the Earl family for a judgment of $5,001. The family did not accept.

Grenia said in court testimony that after Franqui’s arrest, she drove into the Earls’ driveway and recorded the license plate number of Simon Earl’s gold 2000 Volvo. She gave no reason for that in court.

On April 9, 2013 — less than three months after arresting Franqui — Grenia stopped Earl’s Volvo about a half-mile from his house, at North Country Road and Norman Drive in Shoreham. According to her court testimony, she had passed the car and then watched in her rearview mirror as Earl made a right turn without signaling.

Grenia testified that she did not recognize the vehicle as Earl’s and only kept her eye on the car because there is a lot of “drug traffic” on the “backcountry winding roads.”

“I don’t know if somebody’s doing drugs or trafficking drugs until I pull them over,” she said.

Upon recognizing Earl, Grenia said, she called for backup to prevent him from making false allegations against her. “If we think there’s going to be a problem, we have another set of eyes,” she explained.

Earl informed her that he would be recording video of the traffic stop with his phone, and Grenia took the phone, turned it off and put it on top of Earl’s car. Grenia explained in court that “cell phones have been used as Tasers or different weapons.”

Officers instructed Earl to exit his vehicle, and he was patted down. Earl claimed that despite explicitly denying the officers permission to search his car, “they searched my vehicle down to the floor mats.”

Grenia acknowledged entering the back of Earl’s vehicle, but only to help find his insurance card.

Grenia ticketed Earl for not producing an insurance card and for failing to signal before turning. He pleaded not guilty in a September 2014 traffic court appearance, where a judge dismissed the violation and ruled that the government had “not proved their case.”


Franqui was placed under arrest at Earl’s house for allegedly ordering Dog to attack Grenia, for which he would be charged with obstruction of governmental administration and, after allegedly admitting to Grenia that he had smoked marijuana 30 minutes earlier, for driving while under the influence of drugs.

Grenia also charged Franqui with resisting arrest because she alleged that he “flailed his arms and legs and refused to put his hands behind his back until he was eventually subdued.”

Franqui suffered several injuries during the arrest, according to police records and special grand jury testimony. He had a large scrape across his left cheek, which would still be visible at his open-casket funeral. A medical examiner’s report described blunt impact injuries to his body, including his torso and upper and lower extremities. The medical examiner’s office found that Franqui’s injuries, including the cheek wound and “injuries on the front of his body,” were consistent with “having occurred during [the] time he was placed under arrest by police.”

Franqui was booked at the Seventh Precinct at 12:28 p.m. The morning shift supervisor noted the scrape on Franqui’s cheek and wrote in a prisoner log that he “appears intoxicated unsteady slurred speech.” The supervisor also wrote that Franqui said “he’s being treated for anti-anxiety but doesn’t need medication at this time.”

Franqui entered a holding cell at 2:25 p.m. In conversations with a prisoner locked up two cells away, Franqui exhibited wild mood swings, at times speaking calmly and then breaking into angry, paranoid rants or uncontrolled sobs of anguish. He insisted that police had “roughed him up and that he shouldn’t have been arrested.”

About three hours after he was locked up, Franqui’s mother called the Seventh Precinct and spoke to the supervisor, Sgt. Kevin O’Reilly.

“My son is being harassed and I’m really at the end of my rope,” Phyllis Daily told O’Reilly in the recorded phone call. She asked to speak to her son and the precinct commander.

O’Reilly denied both requests. “Ma’am, I’m going to hang the phone up right now on you,” he said. “If you want to see your son, you can go to first district court tomorrow morning.”

Jack Franqui was dead within the hour.

Read Part 2

Jack Franqui suicide timeline The events leading up to and after 26-year-old Jack Franqui killed himself while in a Suffolk jail cell.

01 December 2011

Franqui following the Dec. 2011 arrest. Photo credit: Anthony Grandinette

Franqui discharges weapon in struggle with police

Suffolk police arrest Jack Franqui at his home after responding to a 911 call that he was suicidal. During a struggle, Franqui’s gun goes off and a bullet hits the ceiling. An officer reports that Franqui fired the gun at him, though Franqui is never charged with attempted murder and is ultimately convicted of second-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon. Unable to make bail, he remains jailed until he is released on probation in December 2013.

09 January 2013

Police raid his father's house

Police and a probation officer raid Franqui’s father's house, where Franqui is staying in the garage. Officers find a misdemeanor amount of marijuana and a slingshot Franqui said he had since he was a child. He is charged with felony possession of a weapon for the slingshot. He spends nine days in jail.

23 January 2013

DAY OF SUICIDE

Franqui, driving a recently purchased, rusted 1972 Cadillac Eldorado, visits his friend, Simon Earl, at Earl’s house in Shoreham.

10:30 am - 10:45 am

DAY OF SUICIDE

A nearby resident spots Franqui and Earl in the old Cadillac. Thinking "something was not right," he calls 911 to report a suspicious vehicle.

11:12 am

Franqui is pictured with his dog in an undated photo. Credit: Franqui family

DAY OF SUICIDE

Suffolk County police officer Karen Grenia responds to the call. When she learns that the Cadillac is registered to Franqui, she holds Franqui at gunpoint. By Grenia's count, 10 to 15 officers respond to the scene to assist her. Although they have no warrant, police enter Earl’s home and search it, finding nothing illegal. Franqui is arrested on misdemeanor charges, including driving while high on marijuana and resisting arrest, and suffers multiple injuries during the arrest. Grenia reports that Franqui ordered his "Pinscher" to attack her, and Lt. John "Jack" Fitzpatrick publicly lauds Grenia’s "quick instincts" in thwarting an attack by Franqui’s "Doberman." Franqui's dog -- named Dog -- is actually a Manchester terrier, small enough to ride on the bow of his kayak.

2:25 pm

The detention area is shown on June 8, 2000. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

DAY OF SUICIDE

Franqui is locked in a holding cell at the Seventh Precinct in Shirley. An officer’s activity log notes that Franqui is "being treated for antianxiety but doesn't need medication at this time."

2:45 pm - 3:00 pm

DAY OF SUICIDE

An unnamed officer confiscates a blanket that Franqui was tying to the bars. John Burke is placed two cells away from Franqui's. They are the only two jailed in that area of the facility, which has eight cells. Franqui and Burke, who can see each other in the reflective domes of the jail security cameras facing their cells, strike up a conversation. Franqui tells Burke the police have unfairly targeted him and unnecessarily beat him. He threatens to “hang up.”

5:35 pm

DAY OF SUICIDE

Franqui's mother calls the precinct and says her son is being "harassed" by police. She asks to speak to her son or a precinct commander. Sgt. Kevin O'Reilly, the desk supervisor, tells Franqui’s mother that she can speak with her son the next day and hangs up on her, later reporting that she was “belligerent."

5:40 pm

Simeone leaves the Suffolk PD Property Bureau in Yaphank, Sept. 28, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

DAY OF SUICIDE

Officer Joseph Simeone is responsible for checking on Franqui. It's recorded on an activity log that Franqui's T-shirt is confiscated because he was tying it to his cell bars.

6:25 pm

DAY OF SUICIDE

Desk officers discover that Franqui is dead after he tied his jeans to the bars of his cell and hung himself.

7:00 pm

DAY OF SUICIDE

Homicide detectives arrive at the precinct to investigate Franqui's death. They interview Burke, who tells them that Franqui had repeatedly threatened to kill himself, that officers had confiscated Franqui’s shirt to stop a previous apparent suicide attempt and that officers had ignored Franqui’s requests for medical attention. Burke also states that Franqui had shown other signs of erratic behavior, such as banging his head against the wall and dunking his head in the cell toilet. Burke reports that when he saw Franqui hang himself, he screamed for officers and gestured wildly in the hopes that officers would see him on the closed-circuit security cameras. Homicide detectives discovered that officers at the precinct had switched off the intercom system that allows them to monitor sounds in the cell and that the volume on the TV they were watching had been turned up.

24 January 2013

The official account

In newspaper stories published the day following Franqui's death, Fitzpatrick is quoted as saying that Franqui was calm and that there was "no indication he was suicidal." Franqui’s family receives no other information.

22 March 2013

Burke is pictured in a mugshot taken Jan. 23, 2013. Credit: SCPD

Fellow prisoner calls Franqui's father

Burke is released from jail and he reads Fitzpatrick’s quote about Franqui’s suicide. He contacts Franqui’s father, who he has never met before, to tell him that Fitzpatrick lied and to give him a full account of what he witnessed. Franqui’s father contacts an attorney.

09 April 2013

Officer performs traffic stop on witness

Grenia pulls over Earl, Franqui's friend who witnessed his arrest, allegedly for not using a turn signal. Grenia acknowledges in sworn testimony that she called for backup, had Earl patted down, took his cell phone from him and entered the back seat of his vehicle. She also acknowledges that after Franqui’s death, she had driven her squad car into Earl’s family's driveway to record license plate numbers. In a lawsuit, Earl's family claims that she was attempting to intimidate him because he had witnessed the Franqui incident. Earl’s turn signal violation is dismissed by a judge.

18 June 2013

State commission criticizes handling of similar death

The New York State Commission of Correction issues a report critical of how Suffolk law enforcement officials handled the death of another inmate, Daniel McDonnell, in a police precinct facility. McDonnell, who suffocated in a struggle with officers, suffered a "preventable death," the report states. The commission found that inmates said officers ignored McDonnell’s requests for medical attention and did not conduct the required inmate checks. The commission also criticized Suffolk police for not conducting a "comprehensive internal investigation" and Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota's office for failing to "conduct any investigation of this incident even though it was ruled a homicide and no investigative findings were ever brought before an independent grand jury to determine whether the use of force was justified and lawful." Spota calls the commission’s report "inaccurate and baseless."

29 October 2013

Franqui's family files suit

Franqui's family files a federal lawsuit against Suffolk County and its police department, claiming that Franqui was beaten by police, arrested on trumped-up charges and allowed to die in police custody.

08 January 2014

DA convenes special grand jury

Spota convenes a special grand jury to investigate Franqui's death, 350 days after the incident and the immediate homicide investigation which suggested culpability by officers. Spota grants immunity to Simeone and O'Reilly in exchange for their testimony, ensuring that the officers cannot be criminally prosecuted.

18 July 2014

Officer Simeone gets blamed

SCPD officials testify before the grand jury that Simeone erred in not documenting that he had confiscated a blanket from Franqui in the earlier suicide attempt, an incident about which Simeone had not informed homicide detectives.

21 July 2014

Simeone interviewed by Internal Affairs

SCPD's Internal Affairs Bureau officers interview Simeone for the first time concerning Franqui's death. Though the special grand jury ultimately recommends Simeone's "removal or disciplinary action as prescribed by law," no officer is fired as a result of Franqui's death. Instead, Simeone is transferred to the property bureau.

12 September 2014

Grand jury issues reports

The special grand jury issues two reports, calling Franqui's suicide "preventable" and blaming officer misconduct and neglect for his death. The reports propose a wide range of reforms, including maintaining precinct video recordings, recording desk officers, mandating that the intercom between the cells and the desk not be switched off, and measures aimed at the better handling of mentally ill prisoners. Although they are public records, the reports have not been shared with the public until now.

02 December 2015

Read Part 2

John Burke was two cells away from Franqui when he committed suicide. On the day Burke was released, he called Franqui’s dad and told him the cops had lied. Read Part 2 here

2014 Brookhaven Payroll

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2013 |
2014

2014BROOKHAVENPAYROLLS

ABOUT

About

In 2014, the 15 towns and cities on Long Island employed 20,339 full-time, part-time or seasonal workers. Here are the details on who they were and what they were paid. The difference between base pay and total pay can be accounted for by many factors besides overtime, including shift differential, or payouts for unused vacation or sick time. Retiring workers may have received substantial payouts. Not all municipalities reported retirement or termination dates for all employees. Some towns could not provide a base pay for hourly workers. In some of those cases, an hourly pay rate is listed instead.

In some cases, a worker’s total pay may be less than the base pay because the worker did not work the whole year, taking an unpaid leave, for example. Some municipalities had names repeated. Unless the worker had the same exact title in the same department, those repetitions are listed here.

While reviewing data with town officials, questions arose about Hempstead Town data published last year. The town concluded that it had calculated its 2013 payroll incorrectly and submitted a new version. That has been added to this database.
Payroll information was gathered under the state’s Freedom of Information Law by reporters John Asbury, Valerie Bauman, Matt Clark, Sophia Chang, Scott Eidler, Lauren Harrison, Will James, Carl MacGowan, Ted Phillips, Mackenzie Rigg and Nicholas Spangler.

Click through the charts below for a town-to-town comparison. You can also select the full list for any municipality, and you can re-sort any list by clicking on column headings.

2014 Babylon Payroll

2011 |
2012 |
2013 |
2014

2014BABYLONPAYROLLS

ABOUT

About

In 2014, the 15 towns and cities on Long Island employed 20,339 full-time, part-time or seasonal workers. Here are the details on who they were and what they were paid. The difference between base pay and total pay can be accounted for by many factors besides overtime, including shift differential, or payouts for unused vacation or sick time. Retiring workers may have received substantial payouts. Not all municipalities reported retirement or termination dates for all employees. Some towns could not provide a base pay for hourly workers. In some of those cases, an hourly pay rate is listed instead.

In some cases, a worker’s total pay may be less than the base pay because the worker did not work the whole year, taking an unpaid leave, for example. Some municipalities had names repeated. Unless the worker had the same exact title in the same department, those repetitions are listed here.

While reviewing data with town officials, questions arose about Hempstead Town data published last year. The town concluded that it had calculated its 2013 payroll incorrectly and submitted a new version. That has been added to this database.
Payroll information was gathered under the state’s Freedom of Information Law by reporters John Asbury, Valerie Bauman, Matt Clark, Sophia Chang, Scott Eidler, Lauren Harrison, Will James, Carl MacGowan, Ted Phillips, Mackenzie Rigg and Nicholas Spangler.

Click through the charts below for a town-to-town comparison. You can also select the full list for any municipality, and you can re-sort any list by clicking on column headings.

2014 East Hampton Payroll

2011 |
2012 |
2013 |
2014

2014EAST HAMPTONPAYROLLS

ABOUT

About

In 2014, the 15 towns and cities on Long Island employed 20,339 full-time, part-time or seasonal workers. Here are the details on who they were and what they were paid. The difference between base pay and total pay can be accounted for by many factors besides overtime, including shift differential, or payouts for unused vacation or sick time. Retiring workers may have received substantial payouts. Not all municipalities reported retirement or termination dates for all employees. Some towns could not provide a base pay for hourly workers. In some of those cases, an hourly pay rate is listed instead.

In some cases, a worker’s total pay may be less than the base pay because the worker did not work the whole year, taking an unpaid leave, for example. Some municipalities had names repeated. Unless the worker had the same exact title in the same department, those repetitions are listed here.

While reviewing data with town officials, questions arose about Hempstead Town data published last year. The town concluded that it had calculated its 2013 payroll incorrectly and submitted a new version. That has been added to this database.
Payroll information was gathered under the state’s Freedom of Information Law by reporters John Asbury, Valerie Bauman, Matt Clark, Sophia Chang, Scott Eidler, Lauren Harrison, Will James, Carl MacGowan, Ted Phillips, Mackenzie Rigg and Nicholas Spangler.

Click through the charts below for a town-to-town comparison. You can also select the full list for any municipality, and you can re-sort any list by clicking on column headings.

2014 Glen Cove Payroll

2011 |
2012 |
2013 |
2014

2014GLEN COVEPAYROLLS

ABOUT

About

In 2014, the 15 towns and cities on Long Island employed 20,339 full-time, part-time or seasonal workers. Here are the details on who they were and what they were paid. The difference between base pay and total pay can be accounted for by many factors besides overtime, including shift differential, or payouts for unused vacation or sick time. Retiring workers may have received substantial payouts. Not all municipalities reported retirement or termination dates for all employees. Some towns could not provide a base pay for hourly workers. In some of those cases, an hourly pay rate is listed instead.

In some cases, a worker’s total pay may be less than the base pay because the worker did not work the whole year, taking an unpaid leave, for example. Some municipalities had names repeated. Unless the worker had the same exact title in the same department, those repetitions are listed here.

While reviewing data with town officials, questions arose about Hempstead Town data published last year. The town concluded that it had calculated its 2013 payroll incorrectly and submitted a new version. That has been added to this database.
Payroll information was gathered under the state’s Freedom of Information Law by reporters John Asbury, Valerie Bauman, Matt Clark, Sophia Chang, Scott Eidler, Lauren Harrison, Will James, Carl MacGowan, Ted Phillips, Mackenzie Rigg and Nicholas Spangler.

Click through the charts below for a town-to-town comparison. You can also select the full list for any municipality, and you can re-sort any list by clicking on column headings.

2014 Hempstead Payroll

2011 |
2012 |
2013 |
2014

2014HEMPSTEADPAYROLLS

ABOUT

About

In 2014, the 15 towns and cities on Long Island employed 20,339 full-time, part-time or seasonal workers. Here are the details on who they were and what they were paid. The difference between base pay and total pay can be accounted for by many factors besides overtime, including shift differential, or payouts for unused vacation or sick time. Retiring workers may have received substantial payouts. Not all municipalities reported retirement or termination dates for all employees. Some towns could not provide a base pay for hourly workers. In some of those cases, an hourly pay rate is listed instead.

In some cases, a worker’s total pay may be less than the base pay because the worker did not work the whole year, taking an unpaid leave, for example. Some municipalities had names repeated. Unless the worker had the same exact title in the same department, those repetitions are listed here.

While reviewing data with town officials, questions arose about Hempstead Town data published last year. The town concluded that it had calculated its 2013 payroll incorrectly and submitted a new version. That has been added to this database.
Payroll information was gathered under the state’s Freedom of Information Law by reporters John Asbury, Valerie Bauman, Matt Clark, Sophia Chang, Scott Eidler, Lauren Harrison, Will James, Carl MacGowan, Ted Phillips, Mackenzie Rigg and Nicholas Spangler.

Click through the charts below for a town-to-town comparison. You can also select the full list for any municipality, and you can re-sort any list by clicking on column headings.

2014 Huntington Payroll

2011 |
2012 |
2013 |
2014

2014HUNTINGTONPAYROLLS

ABOUT

About

In 2014, the 15 towns and cities on Long Island employed 20,339 full-time, part-time or seasonal workers. Here are the details on who they were and what they were paid. The difference between base pay and total pay can be accounted for by many factors besides overtime, including shift differential, or payouts for unused vacation or sick time. Retiring workers may have received substantial payouts. Not all municipalities reported retirement or termination dates for all employees. Some towns could not provide a base pay for hourly workers. In some of those cases, an hourly pay rate is listed instead.

In some cases, a worker’s total pay may be less than the base pay because the worker did not work the whole year, taking an unpaid leave, for example. Some municipalities had names repeated. Unless the worker had the same exact title in the same department, those repetitions are listed here.

While reviewing data with town officials, questions arose about Hempstead Town data published last year. The town concluded that it had calculated its 2013 payroll incorrectly and submitted a new version. That has been added to this database.
Payroll information was gathered under the state’s Freedom of Information Law by reporters John Asbury, Valerie Bauman, Matt Clark, Sophia Chang, Scott Eidler, Lauren Harrison, Will James, Carl MacGowan, Ted Phillips, Mackenzie Rigg and Nicholas Spangler.

Click through the charts below for a town-to-town comparison. You can also select the full list for any municipality, and you can re-sort any list by clicking on column headings.