Domestic Incidents Bring Felony Charges for Four Men

Jonathan G. Astudillo-Tacuri T.E. McMorrow

Domestic altercations resulted in felonies and other charges for four men in the last week. In all but one case, the alleged victims were women and, in most, iPhones were involved.

Seven charges were leveled against Jonathan G. Astudillo-Tacuri, including two felonies, early on Sunday morning. Police said he and a woman with whom he had formerly lived had a prolonged altercation on Saturday night. According to police, the woman, publically identified by East Hampton Town Justice Lisa R. Rana only by her first name, Elvia, received an order of protection. 

According to police, she had gotten into her automobile, parked in the Pepperoni Pizza lot on Springs-Fireplace Road, and began driving south. She told police Mr. Astudillo-Tacuri popped up in the back seat, where he had been hiding. She said she pulled over, trying to escape a couple of times, but Mr. Astudillo-Tacuri restrained her. At one point, he reached into her purse and grabbed two credit cards and a debit card along with an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 8, she said.

By this time, they were on Three Mile Harbor Road and he took over the wheel, she told police, driving north until they reached the Maidstone Market, where he slowed down, almost coming to a stop. She said she jumped out and ran to a friend’s house nearby. 

When police located Mr. Astudillo-Tacuri at his Birdie Lane residence early Sunday morning, they said he was in possession of the cards and the cellphones. He was charged with grand larceny of credit cards and criminal possession of stolen cards, both felonies, as well as three misdemeanors: petty larceny for the alleged theft of the cellphones, criminal possession of the phones, and unlawful imprisonment. He was also charged with harassment, a violation.

During his arraignment on Sunday morning, Justice Rana said the district attorney’s office had asked that bail be set at $30,000. Carl Irace, an attorney hired by Suffolk County to ensure that all defendants have competent representation during weekend arraignments, argued that Mr. Astudillo-Tacuri was a candidate for release without bail, or at least with nominal bail. 

“His life is here in East Hampton,” he said. The credit cards, he said, actually belong to Mr. Astudillo-Tacuri, as does the iPhone 8. “It opens with his app ID.” He also argued that Mr. Astudillo-Tacuri had been the victim. “She also bit him on the left wrist,” he said. “There are clear teeth marks. These are only E felonies, unlikely to result in conviction.” 

Justice Rana reviewed each charge out loud. “Two class E felonies, including grand larceny,” she said. She listed the three misdemeanors, finishing by saying, “He has been charged with unlawful imprisonment.” Bail was set at $15,000, which was posted. Justice Rana issued an order requiring Mr. Astudillo-Tacuri to have no contact with the alleged victim.

Another man arraigned on a felony charge of domestic violence the same morning was Matthew Hugo Morales, 28, of Springs. Police alleged that during a fight a little after midnight at his residence, he choked, punched, and kicked a woman, identified at court only as Jacqueline, and destroyed her iPhone 8. He was charged with a felony count of criminal mischief and misdemeanor charges of assault and obstruction of breathing. 

His attorney, Edward Burke Jr., said during the Sunday morning arraignment that his client was as much a victim as the woman involved, and had the marks on his body to prove it. 

The district attorney had recommended bail at $15,000; Mr. Burke argued for his client to be released without bail. “There are two sides to every story, but I am disturbed about the nature of these allegations,” Justice Rana said. She set bail at $2,500, after issuing an order of protection. “Listen. Just stay away. Do yourself a favor. Don’t get sucked in.”

Another fight last week involved two male residents of a group home on Wainscott Northwest Road in Wainscott. One of them, Justin Woods, is facing a felony assault charge after allegedly slamming a blender bowl on the head of a fellow resident Sunday night, sending him to the hospital with a three-inch gash. Mr. Woods, 21, has lived in the home for three years, Cynthia Darrell, his Legal Aid Society attorney, said during his Monday afternoon arraignment.

After issuing an order of protection, Justice Rana set Wednesday as Mr. Woods’s day to return to court, by which time he was expected to be moved to a different home. She also recommended that if he saw the alleged victim, he should “go the other way.” 

 “I’m not going to make you post bail, so you are not going to jail, but, if you violate that order of protection. . . ,” she said with a pause,“I’m going to jail,” Mr. Woods responded.

The fourth man charged with a felony following a domestic incident was John B. Grant, 48, of Springs. Though the court and police did not identify the victim, she was referred to as his wife. Also involved were two minors. Mr. Grant was charged with criminal mischief for allegedly breaking his wife’s iPhone a little before midnight on April 10. “I took the phone out of my wife’s hand because we were no longer on the same page, and it broke in the process,” he reportedly told police. 

He has also been charged with two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a minor and a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge for allegedly forcing his way through a locked bedroom door, damaging the frame. “It’s not a big deal. We have weak doors,” he told police.

He was released after posting $2,500 bail following an April 11 arraignment, during which three orders of protection were issued.