Arson Suspect Held on $500,000 Bail

Psychiatric evaluation ordered for man who was recently hospitalized in Stony Brook University Hospital's psychiatric ward.
David Osiecki was arraigned on two arson charges in Southampton Town Justice Court on Sunday. T.E. McMorrow

The Sagaponack man police say set fire to a $34 million Dune Road house in Bridgehampton on Saturday is being held on $500,000 bail and has been ordered to undergo psychiatric examination.

David Osiecki, 54, was arraigned today in Southampton Justice Court, two days after being arrested on felony arson charges. Justice Andrea Schiavoni declined to issue an order of protection for the owner of the house, which is routine in such cases, until the results of the psychiatric  evaluation are known. “We don’t know if you would understand what is happening,” she told the defendant. “There is a question as to whether you understand,” the justice said.

Mr. Osiecki told the court he had been hospitalized twice recently for possible mental illness, the most recent being 33 days in Stony Brook University Hospital’s psychiatric ward.

Mr. Osiecki has also been charged with misdemeanor arson in connection with a brush fire in Bridgehampton that took place less than 20 hours before the Dune Road fire was  reported. According to police, the brush fire started in a mulch pile behind a tree nursery on Hayground Road at about 10:30 a.m. Friday morning.  The fire on Dune Road was called in at 5:49 a.m., Saturday.

The seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom post-modern house near Mecox Bay that Mr. Osiecki is charged with setting fire to was offered for sale by Corcoran Group Real Estate in 2012 for $34 million. Southampton Town records list its owner as Ziel Feldman, the founder and managing partner of HFZ Group, a New York City real estate and investment firm.

Mr. Osiecki had been arrested previously on charges of trespassing and misdemeanor possession of stolen property in Sag Harbor, as well as on other charges in Southampton.  He went before Justice Schiavoni on April 1 in Sag Harbor Village Court, where she also presides. At that time, he dismissed Sabato Caponi, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, insisting he had retained private counsel, without naming who it was. “I have a letter from my attorney. I have it on my cellphone,” Mr. Osiecki said. He then demanded a trial, saying that he had powerful friends in the press who would attend. 

“I can’t talk to you if you aren’t represented by an attorney,” the justice replied. She then released Mr. Osiecki, saying, “I need to see you back here with counsel,” setting his next court date as April 15. He failed to appear

At what was expected to be his arraignment on Sunday morning, Mr.Osiecki told the justice that he was being represented by Edward Burke Jr., and wanted him at his side.  The justice put off the arraignment for 24 hours to allow him time to contact Mr. Burke and sent  him to county jail.  Handcuffed, dressed in a white plastic jail-issued jumpsuit, and led by two officers, Mr. Osiecki spoke to reporters standing outside,

“It’s Easter Sunday, and I’m taking a day of meditation,” he said in an authoritative, clear voice. Mentioning Mr. Feldman, the owner of the Dune Lane house, he said, “His son has been captured by the Israelis.”He then gave the first names of members of Mr. Feldman’s family, saying he was trying to rescue them and their artwork and get them to Norway.

Mr. Osiecki was at a fund raiser in Bridgehampton in 2009 for the Chaim Sheba  Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Israel,  which Mr. Feldman and his wife, Helene Feldman, attended. He posed for at least two photographs with Ms. Feldman and others at the party. Those photographs can be seen at the website of the well-known society photographer Patrick McMullan.

Sag Harbor police had described Mr. Osiecki as homeless after an incident involving his family, from whom he is estranged. His daughter recently told police that she no longer needed an order of protection, because she was leaving the area.