‘Underwear Burglar’ Skips $30,000 Bail

    One man skipped bail recently, leaving his family $30,000 poorer, while another couldn’t make bail, leading his attorney to seek and get a very speedy trial date in East Hampton Town Justice Court.

    Franklin P. Guanga Sinchi, who police have taken to calling “the underwear burglar,” was arrested on Sept. 13 after being recognized from a photo taken from a surveillance video. East Hampton Town police said he had committed multiple thefts from Montauk motel rooms, usually focusing on female victims. Besides allegedly stealing jewelry and electronic equipment, Mr. Guanga Sinchi took women’s underwear and bathing suits.

    His thefts during the month of August were sometimes lucrative, police said, netting him over $5,000 in stolen items and cash. In a statement, he reportedly told police, “I don’t know why I did it. I guess I have a fetish for women’s underwear.”

    His “fetish,” however, seemed to take him beyond stealing thongs and bathing suits, which were found under his bed. In one incident, after allegedly breaking into a young woman’s room, he told police that “I left and started thinking about the girl’s underwear, so I jumped the fence in the rear of the hotel and walked over to the window and watched the girl sleep for a while.”

    Arrested on a Friday, he was brought into court to be arraigned the next afternoon. Justice Catherine A. Cahill set bail, as the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office had requested, at $30,000, $10,000 for each of the three felony burglaries with which the man was initially charged.

    In the courtroom were nine members of his extended family. Mr. Guanga Sinchi is from Cuenca, Ecuador, where the extended family is considered very important, so much so that the mother’s family name is frequently  added to the father’s, either hyphenated or, as in Mr. Guanga Sinchi’s case, not.

    Justice Cahill asked the family if they thought they would be able to raise the $30,000. It would be difficult, they told her.

    The nine, from all over East Hampton, including a cousin who had translated for the defendant in court and an aunt and uncle who barely knew the accused man, gathered outside the courthouse. The next day, the $30,000 was posted at the county jail in Riverside.

    Mr. Guanga Sinchi’s return court date was to have been Sept. 19. When he was arrested, East Hampton Town police said more charges were expected to be pressed against him.

    The bail money is now gone, as is Mr. Guanga Sinchi. If he is trying to return to Cuenca, he will have to take the reverse of the arduous route many Cuencans take when they move to East Hampton from Ecuador: by bus or car to the Mexican border. A warrant is out for his arrest, and the $30,000 raised by his family now belongs to the Town of East Hampton, according to Justice Court clerks.

    In the man’s absence, the matter is being presented to a grand jury. East Hampton Town Detective Lieutenant Chris Anderson said yesterday that additional charges are being explored. “Alarming behavior was exhibited,” Det. Anderson said.

    Christopher S. Pulido, 21, of Springs, faces a different bail dilemma. After he was arrested twice in the same week, most recently for possession of stolen property (a Hewlett-Packard laptop), Justice Lisa Rana set bail for him at $7,500. Mr. Pulido also faces multiple charges in connection with a ring of thieves who struck parked cars in Springs earlier this year. One of the charges, involving a stolen car, is a felony. He is out on bail in that matter, but has been in county jail in lieu of bail on the most recent charge.

    That charge is a misdemeanor, not a felony, which creates an odd situation. A felony defendant must be set free 120 hours after being arrested if no indictment is obtained by then. There is no such rule with a misdemeanor.

    Mr. Pulido was back in Justice Court last Thursday, in handcuffs and leg shackles, guarded by an officer from the County Sheriff’s Department. At each of his court appearances he has waved and smiled at an older woman, who was once again seated in the room. Neither of them, according to Stephen Grossman, his attorney, can raise the $7,500 bail.

    “Can you reduce the bail?” Mr. Grossman asked Justice Rana. “If you can’t reduce the bail, then I want the first available jury trial.”

    “Face front,” the officer guarding him said to Mr. Pulido, who had been looking back at the woman.

    “The defendant is a menace to society,” Dan Cronin, an assistant county district attorney, told the court.

    “I’m not going to reduce bail,” said Justice Rana, telling Mr. Grossman that  it would be a couple of months before his client could be scheduled for a jury trial.

    The attorney spoke quietly with Mr. Pulido. “When is your first available non-jury trial?” he asked.

    Told that it would be Oct. 24, in front of Justice Rana, Mr. Pulido agreed to waive his right to a jury trial and take his chances on the one misdemeanor charge. He was led away to be returned to jail, looking back at the woman as he went.