On the Beat: Southampton

High Speed Chase

The Mushkolajs vowed to evade police chasing them on Potunk Lane, but in the end, a police canine unit did them in.

Westhampton Beach Village Police officers said Driton Mushkolaj, 22, of East Hampton was driving on Potunk Lane around 2 PM on September 11. When a police vehicle tried to approach, he allegedly took off on a high-speed chase, and was arrested that afternoon and charged with six misdemeanors and 13 traffic violations.

According to Westhampton Beach Police Officer Brian Prescott, Mushkolaj “refused to stop” and a brief pursuit, involving two patrol cars, ensued. Police called off the chase around 2:04 PM and proceeded to search the village for the vehicle — at which point officers from the Southampton Town Police Department, Quogue Village Police Department, and the Suffolk County Police Department K-9 Unit responded to the village to aid with the search and investigation.

Shortly after, a resident on Sunswyck Lane called Westhampton Beach Village Police to report a suspicious parked vehicle. The homeowner reported that two men had fled from the vehicle. Police identified the suspicious vehicle as Mushkolaj’s car and searched the area.

With assistance from the K-9 Unit, officers located Mushkolaj and his cousin — the passenger in the vehicle — Fatbardh Mushkolaj, 25, of Sag Harbor, just south of Sunswyck Lane.

The younger Mushkolaj was charged with third-degree unlawfully fleeing a police officer, second-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, and reckless driving, all misdemeanors. He was also charged with multiple violations, including failure to comply with a lawful order, unlicensed operation of a vehicle, operation of an uninsured vehicle, operation of a vehicle with improper plates, unsafe lane change, operation of an unregistered vehicle, four counts of unreasonable speed, and three stop sign violations.

Swimmer Found Dead

A well-known Quogue attorney was found dead on an ocean beach in Quogue on September 17.

Leonard Lato, 62, was a regular swimmer at the beach and was seen swimming that morning at about 11 AM.

About two hours later, a 911 call came in that a body had been spotted near the shoreline just west of the Quogue Village Beach.

The Suffolk County Medical Examiner was called in to determine the cause of death but police said foul play is not suspected.

Lato, before forming his own law practice, served 13 years with the U.S. Department of Justice as an assistant United States attorney, and also served as a bureau chief with the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

Lato ran for Quogue Village justice in 2011 but lost to Alan Lazarescu.

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