Things went from bad to worse to the verge of surreal early Monday morning for a New Hampshire man who neglected to dim his headlights for an oncoming car.
The car was an East Hampton Town police patrol car, which made a U-turn and stopped Andre Chamblin, 32, of Manchester by the side of Three Mile Harbor Road near Copeces Lane in Springs shortly after midnight Sunday. After detecting a strong smell of marijuana on the driver’s breath and finding pot inside the car itself, an officer had Mr. Chamblin perform roadside sobriety tests, which he reportedly failed.
Charged with driving with ability impaired by drugs, Mr. Chamblin was taken to headquarters in Wainscott, where he consented to have his blood drawn for a drug test. Police meanwhile discovered that he had been convicted in Southampton in 2008 for driving while intoxicated, elevating the D.W.A.I charge to the felony level. He was also charged with possession of marijuana, a simple violation, and driving with a suspended license.
At his arraignment that morning Mr. Chamblin told Justice Lisa Rana he had come to town for seasonal restaurant work and that he was staying in Coram.
“You’re going to be remanded to county jail,” the justice said, explaining that she could not set bail for him in view of his four previous felony convictions. Under New York State law, a local court is not allowed to set bail for a defendant accused of a felony crime if that defendant has two prior felony convictions. Mr. Chamblin’s most recent conviction was in February 2008, when he was convicted of criminal possession of narcotics.
Because of the previous alcohol-related felony conviction, his car was seized by Suffolk County.
Bad as things were for him at that point, though, they were about to get worse. As town police gathered Mr. Chamblin’s personal effects together preparatory to turning him over to the County Sheriff’s Department for transportation to county jail in Yaphank, out of his leather jacket fell, according to the report, five bags of cocaine.
“Sometimes you just can’t make it up,” Justice Rana said in disbelief on Tuesday, as she arraigned Mr. Chamblin on two additional charges. As she read them out the defendant began to speak, denying the accusations. The court cautioned him that it was best to remain silent, and speak through an attorney at his next court appearance.
The additional charges against Mr. Chamblin are possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a felony usually associated with intent to sell, and the same charge in the fourth degree, less serious but also a felony, usually involving the weight of the drug being over a certain number.
Mr. Chamblin, who pleaded not guilty on all counts, was due back in court yesterday.