Spy-Cam Landlord Pleads Guilty

Hidden surveillance cameras at summer rental taped two families

The landlord of a summer rental in Springs pleaded guilty Thursday to 14 felony charges stemming from his use of surveillance cameras to spy on his tenants.

Donald J. Torr, 70, of Celebration, Fla., placed 15 cameras around the his rental property on Winterberry Lane, according to Daniel Justus Solinsky of Salenger, Sack, Kimmel, and Bavaro, an attorney for one of the families victimized by Mr. Torr. Mr. Solinsky spoke last year after Mr. Torr was indicted by a grand jury in Riverside. The family is suing Mr. Torr, as is another family that he admitted to spying on.

Mr. Torr’s wife, Astrid Torr, has been named as a co-defendant in the civil suits, which are in federal court, but was not charged with any crimes by Suffolk County. East Hampton Town police, along with Suffolk County detectives, began investigating the house in the summer of 2012 after receiving reports from one of the two families now suing Mr. Torr that they had discovered a hidden surveillance camera. The house was rented out during summer seasons for $6,500 a week.

In addition to 14 counts of unlawful surveillance in the second degree, a felony charge, Mr. Torr also pleaded guilty Thursday to 9 counts of misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. The unlawful surveillance charge is brought when police believe that a defendant has taped or viewed private acts of an intimate nature with no legitimate purpose for doing so. The renters included nine children, leading to the nine misdemeanor charges.

Mr. Torr, formerly of Montauk, has appeared 17 times in Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kahn’s courtroom. Her court handles cases involving East End felony sex crimes. Mr. Torr has undergone court-ordered psychiatric examinations, but the results of those examinations have not been released.

He is the former owner of the Crow’s Nest in Montauk. During a recess at a recent court appearance, he spoke nostalgically of fishing off Duryea’s dock when he was young, using scrap lobster pieces given to him by workers at the dock as bait. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 18.