Woman dies of heroin overdose at Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn

Village panel awaits testimony to potentially revoke owners' licenses


A Lynbrook woman was found dead last week at the Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn of a heroin overdose, and a subsequent investigation led to the arrest of her alleged dealers.

Lynbrook police officers responded to the motel, at 5 Freer Street, on May 3 at 6:57 a.m. When they arrived, they found the unidentified woman’s body and determined that she had overdosed. After an investigation, Lynbrook detectives worked with the Nassau County Police Department’s Narcotics Bureau to track down and arrest John Funches, of Hempstead, and Barshawn Potter, of Westbury. They were charged with selling her heroin.

According to Lynbrook police, officers from the LPD and the NCPD arranged to purchase heroin from Funches and Potter at the motel, where they arrested them for sale of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. Potter was also charged with criminal facilitation for driving Funches to the motel. The officers recovered heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine from Funches.

“The Lynbrook Police Department has a zero-tolerance policy toward the use and sale of all types of illegal drugs in Lynbrook,” LPD Chief Joseph Neve said in a release. Neve added that in 2017, 15 people were arrested for the sale of drugs, 62 people for the possession of an illegal substance and 75 for possession of marijuana.

The Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn has been accused of being a longtime neighborhood nuisance by Lynbrook residents and elected officials. Last spring, former Mayor William Hendrick formed a committee to evaluate whether the motel’s seven owners should have their room-rental licenses revoked amid arrests for drugs and prostitution at the property.

A series of hearings were held in March and April last year, when a panel appointed by Hendrick — comprised of then-Deputy Mayor Alan Beach and Trustees Hilary Becker and Ann Marie Reardon — listened to testimony from Lynbrook police officers, Capri managers and expert witnesses.

The owners have denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of drug use and prostitution at the site. Reached by phone Tuesday, manager Joe Pizzuto said he did not find anything irregular about the woman’s death.

“It was a simple overdose,” he said. “That’s exactly what it was. There’s nothing suspicious about it or anything. It’s like if anybody overdosed in their house.”

Beach, who became mayor after Hendrick died last October, said, “the selling of drugs will not be tolerated in the Village of Lynbrook.” At Monday’s village board meeting, he told the Herald that Village Attorney Peter Ledwith is reviewing the testimony, and will soon provide transcripts to the panel, which will then determine whether there is enough evidence to revoke the hotel operators’ licenses. Ledwith retired from his position last month, but will still fulfill his duties related to the Capri case, Beach added.

In an unrelated case, Lynbrook detectives arrested David Vega, of Hempstead, for the sale of heroin on May 3 at 7:40 p.m. on Hawthorne Avenue. He was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal sale of a controlled substance.