‘This Isn’t Going to Happen to Another Kid’

Alleged party host arrested in wake of overdose
Jefferson Davis Eames was led into East Hampton Town Justice Court on Friday for his arraignment on multiple charges stemming from alleged under-age parties at his house. T.E. McMorrow

Jefferson Davis Eames, the owner of a Springs house where an East Hampton teen allegedly overdosed on morphine on Jan. 29, was arraigned Friday in East Hampton Town Justice Court on multiple charges relating to under-age gatherings at the house, including one of felony drug dealing. He was unable to post bail, but was released on Tuesday because he had not been indicted on the felony charge within 120 hours of his arrest, as is required under state law.

He is due back in court today to face six sets of charges, the most recent of which are the felony, along with 13 misdeanors: nine counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, three counts of violating the Suffolk County Social Host law, which prohibits adults from knowingly allowing the consumption of alcohol in a residence by minors, and one charge of resisting arrest.

The social host charges relate to three parties that police say Mr. Eames hosted at his Neck Path house, each with between 75 and 100 young people under the legal drinking age in attendance. According to the complaints concerning endangering the welfare of a child, Mr. Eames allowed the youths to be there while “drinking and drug use were taking place in his presence.”

One party began on Dec. 2 and lasted about 30 hours, according to police. Another began New Year’s Eve and ended early the next morning. It appears that the third party, held on Dec. 9, ended after a visit from the police.

The felony charge comes because police say Mr. Eames sold or gave a quarter of a Xanax tablet to a 16-year-old girl.

None of the new charges directly relate to the Jan. 29 drug overdose, East Hampton Town Police Capt. Chris Anderson said Friday, but two of them are connected to that time period. 

In the January incident, which prompted outrage among East Hampton parents, who wondered why police had not held the homeowner responsible, 18-year-old Jordan Johnson was reportedly left untreated for 12 hours after overdosing at Mr. Eames’s residence. Finally, two minors at the house, acting on Mr. Eames’s instructions, called 911 for help, according to police. Mr. Johnson is still recovering after suffering an attack of toxic leukoencephalopathy during the time he was unconscious.

Captain Anderson said that Mr. Johnson, who is 18 and therefore no longer a minor, is not covered by the law against endangering the welfare of a child.

Last Thursday afternoon, when detectives approached Mr. Eames outside of his house, he attempted to elude them by re-entering the house and closing the doors on the police after they told him he was under arrest, they said.

Mr. Eames’s attorney, Eileen Powers, entered a denial to the felony, and a not-guilty plea to the misdemeanors during the Friday arraignment.

Because he is already facing numerous charges stemming from five previous arrests by East Hampton Town police, all within the past six months, bail was set by Justice Steven Tekulsky at $40,000 cash, or Mr. Eames could have posted a $275,000 bond.

Mr. Eames’s attorney told him that her client had entered a drug treatment program and argued for a lower bail amount than the $50,000 requested by the district attorney. Ms. Powers said that Mr. Eames has strong ties to the community. She characterized him as “cooperative,” and said that there is no record of his failing to appear on his many court dockets in East Hampton.

“I would disagree that he is always cooperative, as there is a charge of resisting arrest in this case, as well as in one of the other matters, and in one of the other matters that I initially arraigned him on, he was charged with unlawfully fleeing a police officer, which is some evidence of his unwillingness to cooperate,” Justice Tekulsky said. “I also would point out that the first time I had occasion to arraign him was on Nov. 16. Among the other charges was unlawful operation of a motor vehicle.” Since then, Justice Tekulsky has arraigned Mr. Eames twice more on unlicensed driving charges.

Police have been investigating Mr. Eames since at least early December, when two arrests were made in the vicinity of the house, according to Captain Anderson. The two picked up on Dec. 9, both 18, were charged with possession of Ecstasy, an illegal drug, as well as marijuana. Captain Anderson said those arrests were directly related to complaints the department had been getting from neighbors concerned with what they believed were illegal activities at the house.

“This has been a difficult and protracted case to close given HIPAA privacy laws, good Samaritan laws, and uncooperative witnesses,” East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo said in an email Friday afternoon.

Captain Anderson said there are several incidents at the house that police are looking into and asked for the public’s assistance in the ongoing investigation. Detectives can be reached at 631-537-7575.

Mr. Johnson’s mother and father, Christine Moran and Andre Johnson, were in the back of the courtroom on Friday watching Mr. Eames’s arraignment. Their son was released last week from the Rusk Rehabilitation Institute at New York University-Langone Medical Center in Manhattan. He will continue his rehabilitation in an outpatient facility in Port Jefferson, Ms. Moran said. A fund-raiser for him and his family is planned for March 19 at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett.

Ms. Moran and Mr. Johnson said they were relieved that Mr. Eames had been arrested. “I’m so happy, because this isn’t going to happen to any other kid,” Ms. Moran said.

“He is being held accountable,” the older Mr. Johnson said.

“This arrest should help parents in the community recognize our department is working diligently to combat drug and alcohol abuse by minors, and will continue to thoroughly investigate any complaints of under-age drinking, or drug use,” Chief Sarlo wrote. “The public should educate themselves with regards to the county social host law as well as the good Samaritan law in overdose cases.” Good Samaritan laws provide immunity from arrest or prosecution for people calling 911 for emergency medical attention for opiate-related overdoses, as well as legal protection for those who administer lifesaving measures.

“We will continue to be proactive in educating parents and youth to the dangers and risks associated with drug and alcohol abuse,” the chief said.