Mr. Hnetinka Goes to Court

Party-house organizer arraigned in Southampton on 59 counts
Lee Hnetinka, right, with Michael A. Gajdos, his new attorney, was arraigned in Southampton Town Justice Court on Friday on 59 charges, mostly misdemeanors, in connection with alleged party house rentals. Hampton Pix

    Lee Hnetinka, the alleged party-house scammer, was arraigned in Southampton Justice Court last Friday, charged with 59 infringements of the Southampton Town Code. The charges, most of them misdemeanors, stem, police said, from a massive fraud he perpetrated on unsuspecting homeowners, telling them that his company, Hamptons and Sons, was renting their houses for “family reunions” when in fact it was hosting high-school graduation and prom parties attended by up to 100 teenagers. The company was separately charged with 24 code violations.
    Mr. Hnetinka, dressed in a well-tailored navy blue pinstriped suit and wearing Gucci loafers, stood before Justice Deborah Kooperstein with an attorney, Michael A. Gajdos, whom he’d hired 24 hours earlier. When the court asked him what he did for a living he first answered that he was in real estate, but then said he was an “online entrepreneur,” and finally that he was an employee of Hamptons and Sons.
     “If he doesn’t want to tell me what he does for a living, that’s fine,” remarked Justice Kooperstein.
    Michael Sendlenski, a Southampton Town attorney, asked that bail be set at $10,000, saying that Mr. Hnetinka had no ties to the community, “other than engaging in criminal endeavors.” Seven houses in Southampton were allegedly rented by Mr. Hnetinka under false pretenses, and at least two in East Hampton Town.

    Mr. Gajdos argued that his client was not a flight risk, since the court would have jurisdiction over him if he remained in Jericho, where he lives.
     “Actually, that is not in my jurisdiction,” Justice Kooperstein said. “I’m just a town judge.”
    She set bail at $10,000. It was met, and he was released.
    As serious as the charges against Mr. Hnetinka are now, they could become worse if allegations by two women, Eileen Weiner of Commack and Katy Carlin of Chicago are proven.
    Both women maintain that Mr. Hnetinka ran a bait-and-switch operation, using a house at 2212 Noyac Road in Sag Harbor as the bait. Ms. Weiner, whose son Jordan, then a senior at Commack High School, had asked her to arrange a prom party for 35 teens, went to see the nine-bedroom house in February. Mr. Hnetinka, who showed it to her himself, “talked the talk,” she said. “He knew exactly what to say.”
    She liked everything about the place, not least Mr. Hnetinka’s assertion that there would be two security guards on the scene, one of them a retired police officer and the other a teacher. They turned out, instead, to be two hired employees of Alpha One Security, which has offices in several locations.
    Ms. Weiner signed a contract on Feb. 12, putting down a deposit of $5,000. She paid the balance, $14,000, in April, plus a “security” fee of $20 per person.
    The day before the prom, she said, Mr. Hnetinka called with bad news: Neighbors of the Noyac Road house had complained of noise there, and he had to change the site of the party. It would now be at 20 Parrish Pond Lane in Southampton, which was his personal home, he told Ms. Weiner, and “much nicer” than Noyac Road.
    It proved anything but for the 35 students, as it had only four bedrooms. “They were falling over each other,” Ms. Weiner said.
    Police knocked at the door at 7 a.m. on June 23, the day after the group arrived. The security guards, whose instructions were never to open the door to the police, were fast asleep, and a student let them in. The party was shut down.
    A week later, Ms. Carlin had a similar experience. She had found Hamptons and Sons online, and wanted to book a weekend reunion with 15 friends, coming from as far away as Colorado and London, in the Hamptons.
    “Hamptons and Sons,” she said. “They had beautiful mansions. He said his family owns these properties and rents them out.”
 


Comments

Its good to see this guy go to court. Unfortunately I was a victim of this guy and his scam. I asked for a specific property in East Hamptons and when the lease came suddenly the house was in East Quogue. His way of apologizing for the last minute change was by giving us a free additional night. He had scheduled a meeting to show the house to a new client right before our check in time. These new clients were two teenagers... The house was also a mess. There were empty beer cans through out the property. There was a dirty shot glass in the hot tub that didn't even work. There was cockroaches in the bathrooms. On top of the dirty conditions of the house, I never got the security deposit back. I've talked to several lawyers about taking him to court as well. Unfortunately I'll have to spend a lot more than the security deposit to take him to court. He is a scam, not a very honest person. My opinion, this guy should be in jail.
I suggest his new attorney gets a new suit and loses the shades. Yikes.
Agreed...we just managed to get out of one of his scam. we rented a certain property in Noyac only to later learn of his arrest thus causing us to further inquire...he had never even rented the home from the owner nor did he have other authority to rent it out. We got lucky....got our refund by bank check this past week and have managed to find another property suitable for our family reunion.
My daughter and her friend rented the house(2212 Noyac Road in Sag Harbor) from this guy in March 2012 for high-school graduation after prom party (30 kids). They signed a rental agreement and paid all money. The guy called 2 days before the prom day and cancel. Later kids learned he had multiple rental agreements for the same house with different group of kids on the same date. Yes, kids got refund, but this guy defiantly should be in jail