Cops: 4 Busted for 'Instigating' Fight Between 2 Developmentally Disabled Men

The four were seen and heard laughing during the attack, police said.

Stephen Komara. Photo Credit: Southampton Town Police
Stephen Komara. Photo Credit: Southampton Town Police
Four Long Island Group Home workers  are facing felony charges after instigating a fight between two developmentally disabled men, police said.

According to Southampton Town police, the incident was reported to the New York State Justice Center for the protection of people with special needs hot line.

On Thursday, NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced that three direct care workers, employed by Independent Group Home Living Program, Inc. were arraigned on felony charges for allegedly watching and encouraging an individual with developmental disabilities in their care to attack another man with disabilities. 

The group home is located in Southampton Town, said Southampton Detective Sgt. Lisa Costa, but due to the fact that the individuals involved are "unable to defend themselves," the location is not being disclosed.

After receiving the report on the hot line, a  call center representative opened a case tracking file, police said.

The Southampton Police Department initiated a criminal investigation and made the arrests after obtaining "disturbing cell phone video," which recorded the incident. In the video, all four defendants are either seen or heard laughing as the attack transpired, police said.

“These arrests should serve as a warning that the Justice Center and the district attorneys of this state will not hesitate to prosecute behavior that violates, endangers or causes injuries to vulnerable New Yorkers,” Gunning said. “We commend the efforts of the Southampton Police detectives who investigated this incident. This is an example of the close collaboration we seek to achieve with dedicated local law enforcement professionals across the state to ensure that justice will be served.”

Arrested were Erin McHenry, 29, of Brookhaven, 29, Justin McDonald, 19, of Lindenhurst, and Stephan Komara, 58, of East Moriches. They were charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree, a felony.

Bail was sent at $10,000 for each of the three defendants; they were remanded to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility.

A bench warrant was initially issued for a fourth defendant, Rosemary Vanni, 44, of Eastport; she also faces two felony counts of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person. At 3:20 p.m. on Thursday, Southampton Town Police located and arrested Vanni on the outstanding Bench Warrant for failing to appear in court for her arraignment.  She will be held overnight and be brought to Southampton Town Justice Court on Friday.

All four defendants were terminated from their positions, police said.

“IGHL acted swiftly in the interest of their clients and was instrumental in our successful investigation,” said Costa.

The case is being prosecuted by Justice Center Deputy Special Prosecutor Jacqueline Kagan.

Hbjoker February 07, 2014 at 01:50 AM
4 scumbags who deserve severe beatings
Ben Antinori February 07, 2014 at 08:11 AM
Who and where were their supervisors while this was occurring? Have any of the 4 defendants had previous questionable judgment issues on the job and that may be reflected in their performance evaluation history? We are all certain that IGHL administrators acted swiftly once this atrocity was exposed in order to manage all ensuing negative fallout. Specific explanations are needed regarding IGHL administration's program-wide policies on oversight and addressing unfit employees that work in all IGHL facilities? As in all such cases, "stuff" (you can guess the real word I'm thinking) runs uphill. In this specific case, it must go to very top levels of IGHL's administration, then back down through facilities managers and supervisors. These "4 dispicables" lack of sound program and moral judgment must have some kind of history. Who knew what & when about these 4 individuals work history? Administrators, please stand up and face the public's demand for answers with all the transparency and integrity you possess. Failure to do so would be very unwise. Don't let the IGHL mission be questioned or labeled by this. Defend the good in IGHL's history, but don't shade your "stuff." That will be a grave mistake. Every entity that has any oversight and funding responsibility above IGH, let's hear from you, too. These kinds of unacceptable behaviors do not happen in a vacuum. A culture of tolerance must have been and is likely present to produce this kind of criminal behavior. The laws to protect our loved ones in this population are very clear. NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, we are counting on you to send a needed clarion call for all in this area of special needs services. NYS CPPSN, hold a town hall type event and you'll hear the real truth about the need for reform in services for special needs people.
Brendan Byrne - The East End Broker February 07, 2014 at 11:34 AM
These four deserve all the shame that they receive.
Eva June Roberts-Vazquez February 08, 2014 at 08:20 AM
Thanks to the anonymous person who called in this in. Spread the word out NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs http://www.justicecenter.ny.gov/


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