Three arrests made by East Hampton Town and Village police on drunken driving charges in the past few days have two men facing felony charges, while a third is expected to face a felony charge as well.
Luis A. Refugio, 22, was pulled over early Sunday morning on Three Mile Harbor Road after an officer said he saw him swerving across the lines on the narrow road. Having failed roadside sobriety tests, according to police, he subsequently refused to submit to a breath test at police headquarters.
Mr. Refugio had been arrested on the same charge at almost the same location on Aug. 12, 2012. In February, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving with ability impaired. With his license still revoked as a result of that guilty plea, the new misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge results in his facing a felony driving without a license charge.
Mr. Refugio’s car was impounded. He told Justice Catherine A. Cahill later that morning during his arraignment that he had just moved from Southampton to East Hampton and has lived on the East End for most of his life. When Justice Cahill set bail at $1,000, Mr. Refugio asked if she could lower it.
“You’re facing a felony and a refusal,” she answered. “The D.A. could present this to a grand jury. If the D.A. was here, he’d be requesting a much higher bail,” she said, keeping it as set. Bail was later posted.
It was Mr. Refugio’s third arrest in three years. In 2011, Southampton Village police accused him of misdemeanor-level possession of marijuana.
Rody D. Tapia, 39, is also facing a felony charge. He was said by police to have left the scene of an accident, after striking a parked car Sunday night in a driveway on Roosevelt Avenue in Maidstone Park, the street where he lives. He was brought into court Monday morning to be arraigned. Waiting for him was a brother, a woman, and two other men. The officer guarding Mr. Tapia allowed the woman to briefly hug the defendant.
After the arraignment began, Mr. Tapia told Justice Cahill that he has lived in East Hampton for 20 years, and was originally from Ecuador.
“This D.W.I. is a felony because you have a prior misdemeanor conviction,” the justice said. “The D.A.’s office will be moving quickly to indict you. You have to hire an attorney.” She set bail at $10,000.
“Ten thousand dollars?” the defendant repeated, clearly surprised. “Yes. Felony D.W.I. with an accident. These are very serious charges,” the justice replied.
“If we don’t post it today, he goes to Riverhead?” the woman who had hugged Mr. Tapia asked. “Yes,” was the answer. “I’ll post it today,” the woman said.
Manuel Chavez Garcia, 37, is likely to face a felony charge of driving with a suspended license as well as a drunken driving charge, after being arrested for the second time in eight days. He was stopped early Sunday morning by East Hampton Village police who said he was doing 52 miles per hour down Main Street, where the speed limit is 30. At headquarters subsequently, his blood alcohol content was said to have been recorded at the station at .17, over twice the legal limit.
A previous arrest was so recent, however, that it had not shown up yet in Department of Motor Vehicles records, causing some confusion. “Has he been arrested before?” Justice Cahill asked Tania Valverde, a translator for the court. “Eight days ago,” she said. “He was in jail in Hampton Bays because he was driving drunk,” she said, translating Mr. Chavez Garcia’s own words.
Because the arrest was not in the system, Justice Cahill had no way of knowing if Mr. Chavez Garcia’s license had been suspended, although such an arrest would, in all likelihood, have led to a suspension.
“Did somebody bail you out last week?” she asked. “No. The judge let him go,” was the answer. Because of the two arrests, and the fact that he is a citizen of Mexico, with no family here, the justice apparently deemed Mr. Chavez Garcia a flight risk, and set bail at $10,000. “Are you going to be able to make it?” she asked the prisoner.
A village police officer who is bilingual was in the court and spoke with Mr. Chavez Garcia in Spanish. “He is going to make some phone calls,” he told the justice. Bail was later posted, and the defendant was released.
East Hampton Village police arrested Mark S. Seidenfeld, 59, of Bridgehampton Sunday morning on the charge of driving while intoxicated. He was released without bail.
In Sag Harbor, village police arrested Gina M. Longo, 25, of Bridgehampton on a D.W.I. charge a little after midnight Sunday. She had been pulled over on Main Street, police reported for allegedly not having headlights on and for running a stop sign. She was released Sunday morning without bail, due to her local roots.