And the New Year Begins With Felonies
Two men are facing felony charges after being arrested by East Hampton Town police between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
A 32-year-old Southampton man, Cristian V. Villa-Peralta, was sitting behind the wheel of a 2005 Nissan Maxima on Boxing Day in the Indian Wells Beach parking lot in Amagansett when he was approached by an officer. The sun was setting, the car was in park, and the engine was running, according to the police. Mr. Villa-Peralta allegedly had an open bottle of Zhumir by his side. Zhumir is an Ecuadorian brand of liquor made from sugar cane.
He smelled of alcohol and appeared intoxicated, according to the officer, who reported that Mr. Villa-Peralta performed poorly on sobriety tests. After being arrested, he was taken to headquarters, where a breath test produced a reading of .24 of 1 percent alcohol in the blood, three times the .08 percentage that defines intoxication and well over the .18 number that raises the charge to the aggravated level.
While the aggravated drunken driving charge is a misdemeanor, the aggravated unlicensed driving charge Mr. Villa-Peralta was hit with is a felony, because his license was suspended in April of 2017 after he was arrested in Quogue on a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge. That case is still pending in Southampton Town Justice Court.
Mr. Villa-Peralta was arraigned on the new charges in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Dec. 27. Justice Lisa R. Rana said that it appeared that United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had issued a detainment request for the defendant, for possible deportation. The request form was not provided in the court file.
The district attorney’s office asked that bail be set at $2,500. Given the high blood alcohol reading, the fact that Mr. Villa-Peralta already had an open drunken driving charge, and was now facing a felony, Justice Rana deemed him a flight risk, however, and doubled the bail to $5,000. Unable initially to make bail, he was taken to county jail, where he was held for a couple of days before bail was eventually posted, and he was released. Suffolk County sheriffs do currently honor ICE detainer requests, which ask that the agency be given 48 hours’ notice before a prisoner is released. That form, if it exists, apparently never made it to the sheriff’s office, however.
An arrest on a felony drunken driving charge late New Year’s Day led to a very bittersweet reunion in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Tuesday.
Kyle A. Booth was doing 51 miles per hour in a 40 m.p.h. zone on Flamingo Avenue, headed away from Montauk’s commercial dock area, according to police, who pulled Mr. Booth over in his 2012 four-door Chevrolet and, ultimately, arrested him.
“I had one-and-a-half Long Island iced teas,” he allegedly told the officer, who reported that Mr. Booth failed sobriety tests.
At headquarters, police said, his breath test produced a reading of .14. The D.W.I. charges Mr. Booth is facing are felonies, because he pleaded guilty to the same charge at the misdemeanor level in 2009 in East Hampton. A D.W.I. charge becomes a felony if the driver has been convicted of the same charge within 10 years of the latest arrest.
Mr. Booth, 29, lives in Carmel, N.Y., but also from time to time on his boat docked in Montauk, he told Justice Lisa R. Rana during his arraignment on Tuesday.
It was before Justice Rana that Mr. Booth had pleaded guilty in 2009. Out of the hundreds of drunken driving cases she has adjudicated in more than 14 years on the bench, she said on Tuesday, Mr. Booth’s stood out to her: “You were doing so well,” she said. Now, she said, he was likely to be indicted. “A .14 reading. You’re going to be in county court.”
“It was a long time before disposition,” she said, recalling Mr. Booth’s 2009 guilty plea. He entered that plea about a year after his arrest, being allowed time by the court to pull himself together, Justice Rana said. He told the court on Tuesday that he was about to take a job in law enforcement in a Connecticut jurisdiction.
She asked him if spending time on his boat in Montauk, and working on other boats, was the best place for him to be. “There is too much drugs and alcohol,” she said. “You were going to be a law enforcement officer.” That possibility, Justice Rana said, is likely gone. She told him his next appearance in front of her would be on Jan. 25. “You’re gong to be with me for a very short period of time.”
Tased on New Year’s Eve
There were also four arrests on misdemeanor charges of drunken driving between late New Year’s Eve and early New Year’s Day.
Minutes before midnight, East Hampton Village police arrested Carlos Andres Yara-Gonzalez, 29, of Springs, on multiple misdemeanor charges, including drunken driving, resisting arrest, unlicensed driving, and obstructing governmental administration. He was also charged with several moving violations.
Police said they had to use a Taser on Mr. Yara-Gonzalez before they were able to handcuff him. As he stood in East Hampton Town Justice Court for arraignment on the first day of 2018, the prong marks and burn mark from the Taser were visible on the back of Mr. Yara-Gonzalez’s shirt.
According to police, an eastbound officer had clocked the westbound 2001 Toyota Mr. Yara-Gonzalez was driving at 70 miles per hour in a 40 m.p.h. zone on Pantigo Road in East Hampton. The officer, police said, did a U-turn and began following the Toyota, now moving at 50 m.p.h., into the area near the intersection with Accabonac Road, where the speed limit drops to 30 m.p.h. After the Toyota turned onto Accabonac Road, the officer made the traffic stop.
The police said that after the officer put on his emergency lights, Mr. Yara-Gonzalez pulled into a driveway of a residence and fled, running into nearby woods. According to the police report, the officer in pursuit “ordered him numerous times to stop, as well as show his hands.” The report continues, “The conditions were extremely snowy and icy, and the subject jumped over a metal barb[ed]-wire fence, continuing to flee.” Mr. Yara-Gonzalez was running toward the Long Island Railroad tracks when the officer warned him to “stop or he would be [T]ased.”
The report says that the officer could not effect an arrest, as Mr. Yara-Gonzalez refused to be handcuffed. “The Taser was deployed with one five-second cycle of the Taser,” the report reads. Additional officers arrived, and the defendant was handcuffed and placed into a patrol car. An E.M.T. team removed the Taser barbs from Mr. Yara-Gonzalez’s back, and an ambulance was brought to the scene.
The police said Mr. Yara-Gonzalez appeared drunk and failed field sobriety tests, refusing to take a breath test at the side of the road. An East Hampton Ambulance Association vehicle transported Mr. Yara-Gonzalez to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. There, while being treated, he agreed to have blood drawn to test the level of alcohol in his system. At that point, past midnight, emergency room doctors cleared him to be released to the police, and he spent the rest of New Year’s morning in a holding cell at the Cedar Street headquarters. He allegedly told police there was a party going on at his house, and he was trying to get back before midnight, when he was arrested.
During his arraignment, Carl Irace, an attorney supplied by the county for weekend arraignments, told East Hampton Town Justice Lisa R. Rana, that Mr. Yara-Gonzalez lives with his wife and has a child in Springs School: “He is not a flight risk. He was scared. He apologized.” A translator was used to interpret what was being said by Mr. Yara-Gonzalez in court. Justice Rana agreed to release him without bail.
An accident on Stephen Hand’s Path in Northwest Woods less than an hour into the New Year led to the arrest of a Montauk woman, Katherine Louise Knetzer, 31, on two misdemeanor charges, drunken driving and resisting arrest.
According to town police, they were called at 12:41 a.m. to Stephen Hand’s Path, near Marion Lane, where a 2003 eastbound Honda had run off the road, crashing into the woods.
“I was driving down the road and I hit something, causing me to lose control of the car,” Ms. Knetzer allegedly told the arresting officer. Police reported that she was not hurt but failed sobriety tests.
According to the police, when the officer told her she was under arrest, she refused to be handcuffed, continuously pulled both hands apart, tried to pull away, “and attempted to head-butt” both the arresting officer and a second officer called to the scene.
At headquarters, she refused not only to take the breath test, but to even sign the document indicating that she was refusing, according to the police, who quoted her as saying, “I’m not signing anything.”
During Ms. Knetzer’s arraignment later on New Year’s morning, East Hampton Town Justice Lisa R. Rana said, “Because it is a refusal, you are not going to be eligible for a hardship license until New Year’s Day next year, no matter what happens in court with the case.” That yearlong suspension can be reversed only by the Department of Motor Vehicles, in a process that is separate from Ms. Knetzer’s court proceedings.
She was released without having to post bail.
At almost the same moment as police were arresting Ms. Knetzer in Northwest Woods, Franklin Patricio Campoverde Pauta, 29, was being arrested on driving while intoxicated charges in Springs, where he lives. Police said he had been driving a 2016 Honda east on Fort Pond Boulevard while swerving across lane lines.
“I had one glass of Champagne,” he reportedly told the arresting officer, after performing poorly on sobriety tests.
His breath test at headquarters allegedly produced a .13 of 1 percent reading. Any reading of .08 or more is defined as intoxicated, under state law.
He, too, was released later on New Year’s Day without having to post bail.
The driver of a 2018 Porsche was pulled over after blowing through the stop sign at Bay Street and Main Street in Sag Harbor, Sag Harbor Village police reported, two hours into the New Year. Paul R. Geenty, 55, of Water Mill, failed sobriety tests and was placed under arrest. His breath test at headquarters produced a reading of .12 of 1 percent.
He was released later that morning without having to post bail.