Heroin and Crack Were Hidden in Car, Police Say

Michael J. Donelan of Springs remained in custody as of yesterday morning, unable to come up with the $7,500 bail set after East Hampton Town police charged him Sunday night with two felony drug possession charges. T.E. McMorrow

Over the past eight days, two traffic stops by East Hampton Town police officers that were followed by arrests on charges of unlicensed driving ultimately led to felony drug-possession charges against the drivers involved. Both men have prior felony convictions on their records. 

Michael J. Donelan, 44, of Springs has been charged with multiple drug-possession charges, including two felonies. He was arraigned twice this week by Justice Rana, first on Sunday, then on Monday.

Mr. Donelan turned himself in on Sunday morning to answer a warrant issued by East Hampton Town Justice Court; his first arraignment came soon after. He had failed to pay more than $1,000 in fines from two separate unlicensed-driving convictions. Justice Rana set bail at $250, and warned him that he needed to pay the open fines. Mr. Donelan was released on Sunday morning after he posted bail. 

That night, according to the police, Mr. Donelan was pulled over on Springs-Fireplace Road near Queens Lane in East Hampton for speeding. That stop led to a new misdemeanor charge of unlicensed driving. After placing him under arrest, police searched the vehicle. According to the police report, when they lifted the center console in the 1998 Ford Mr. Donelan was driving, they found 69 small packets of heroin, leading to one felony possession charge, and 11 tablets of methadone, leading to the second felony possession charge. They also said they found five hypodermic needles and a small amount of crack cocaine, leading to two misdemeanor possession charges. 

“So. Mr. Donelan,” Justice Rana said the next morning, Monday, during his second arraignment. “You’ve got some really serious charges now.” She told his attorney, Matthew D’Amato of the Legal Aid Society, that because Mr. Donelan had two prior felony convictions, bail for him could only be set in district court. The law precludes a town justice from setting bail on such occasions. 

Mr. Donelan’s two earlier felony convictions came over a decade ago, and apparently were drug-related. After he was taken to county jail in Riverside on Monday afternoon, Mr. D’Amato petitioned the district court to set bail. He was successful in his effort, but Mr. Donelan was unable to come up with the $7,500 amount that was set, and he remained in custody as of yesterday morning. The district attorney’s office has until Friday to either get an indictment against Mr. Donelan or release him, if he has not made bail by then.

A somewhat similar case unfolded in Montauk last week. According to the police, Pedro Jose Borges, 37, was driving a 2003 Toyota on Montauk’s Main Street the night of Jan. 24 when he failed to dim his headlights for an oncoming patrol car. The officer pulled into the 7-Eleven parking lot behind Mr. Borges, who lives in Montauk, according to the paperwork connected to the case. Initially, Mr. Borges was arrested on a charge of unlicensed driving, a misdemeanor. However, according to police, after the arrest, they found Mr. Borges to be in possession of two small plastic bags containing a white powdery substance, which turned out to be cocaine. The total weight, police said, was over 500 milligrams, raising the possession charge against Mr. Borges to the felony level. 

Mr. Borges was arraigned last Thursday afternoon in East Hampton Town Justice Court in front of Justice Rana. He was also represented by Mr. D’Amato. Mr. D’Amato is assigned by the Legal Aid Society to represent defendants being arraigned on weekdays in East Hampton Town. Justice Rana explored whether or not Mr. Borges was indigent, and therefore eligible for Legal Aid to be permanently assigned to his case. He told the court that he worked as a bartender in Montauk, but that he sends most of his money home to his mother overseas. “We don’t just hand out taxpayers’ dollars for attorneys,” Justice Rana warned. 

Jamie Greenwood from the district attorney’s office asked that bail be set at $10,000. Mr. D’Amato countered by asking that bail be set no higher than $1,500, which his client could make. Justice Rana set bail at $7,000, pointing to Mr. Borges’s record of convictions, which, she said, include a felony in Florida for selling amphetamines. Mr. Borges could not immediately make bail, and was taken to county jail. He was released on Tuesday. 

According to the county jail records office, Mr. Borges was released under the law that requires most defendants being held on felony charges to either be indicted by a grand jury no more than 144 hours after being arrested, or be released from custody.