DA: Gang member stored guns in NY day care center
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — Authorities found handguns, shotguns and ammunition in the basement of a small Long Island day care center, an arsenal that allegedly belonged to a Bloods street gang member, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The operator of the Just in Time Day Care Center, Kathryn Smith, 50, and her husband, David, 48, pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead. They were charged with illegal weapons possession and conspiracy charges and were released without bail.
Police, acting on a tip, obtained a search warrant last month and found the weapons inside a yellow bag in the Smiths’ home, which also houses the business, said District Attorney Thomas Spota.
Prosecutors believe the weapons belonged to the Smiths’ 28-year-old son, Anthony Sands, an alleged Bloods gang member. They say sometime in late March or early April, he arranged to have the weapons moved from his home in Central Islip to his parents’ basement in Huntington. He was arrested shortly after the weapons were found on April 5, and has pleaded not guilty.
The couple’s attorney, J. Stewart Moore, said they had no idea what was inside the bag.
“She was acting as a parent does,” he said outside court. “Many of us have children who leave home for some period of time and they use the house as their dumping ground, if you will, for their things. That’s what happened here.”
Spota said after the weapons were discovered, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services closed the day care center. Agency records indicate the facility was licensed in 2006 and could legally care for up to up to 12 children ages 2 to 12.
There is no evidence that any child at the day care center knew the weapons were hidden in the basement. But, Spota said, “Your imagination doesn’t have to wander far to contemplate an unbelievable tragedy occurring with unsecured, loaded handguns in this setting.”