John W. Templeman pleaded guilty Monday in East Hampton Town Justice Court to six charges stemming from allegedly rolling over a house he owns in Montauk for excessive short-term rentals. He was fined $7,500 and received a stern warning from East Hampton Town Justice Lisa R. Rana. "If I see anything like this in front of me again, it is not going to be a good situation," she told him.
Mr. Templeman, 32, an attorney who heads up the international arbitration wing of White and Case, a law firm based in New York, spoke softly as he said "guilty" three times to Justice Rana.
Originally charged with six unclassified misdemeanors, including violating the town's code regarding "excessive turnover," he instead pleaded guilty to the lesser non-criminal charges of noise violations. He also was originally cited for using his house at 5 South Federal Street in Montauk as a two-family residence, lacking a certificate of occupancy, advertising his short-term rentals on a website, Airbnb.com, and draining his swimming pool onto public property. All are violations of the town's zoning code.
"Our goal in settling," Michael Sendlenski, the town's prosecuting attorney, said Monday, "is to bring the owner into compliance."
The $7,500 he was fined was less than one week's rental income from the Montauk house. An UpIsland man, Giancarlo Negovetti, told investigators he paid $10,000 for one week's stay. Mr. Templeman also rented the house out on several occasions for three-day stays, according to the court files.
Mr. Templeman's advertisement on Airbnb.com promised five bedrooms, plus a pullout couch in the living room, a large in-ground pool, and an eight-person hot tub.
His attorney, Brian Lester of Tarbet and Lester, said that Mr. Templeman was unaware of the prohibition against short-term rentals in the town's code. "He would never have done it if he had known," Mr. Lester said outside the courthouse Monday.
Mr. Templeman declined to comment, other than to say he has been in Montauk for the past four years. According to court papers, he lives year round in Greenwich Village.
According to David Betts, East Hampton Town's director of public safety, Mr. Templeman has canceled all remaining short-term rentals he had booked for the rest of the year. "I don't expect any more trouble," Mr. Betts said.