Jailed Without Bail, May Do Time

James J. Brennan left East Hampton Justice Court last Thursday after answering felony driving while intoxicated charges. He faces a potential lifetime driving ban if he is convicted for a fifth time for drinking and driving. T. E. McMorrow

    Driving across the double yellow line led to a traffic stop, an arrest on a felony charge of aggravated drunken driving, and the possible lifetime loss of driving privileges for a Northwest Woods man, who is being held without bail in the county jail in Riverside.

    East Hampton Town police, who stopped James J. Brennan, 59, on Springs-Fireplace Road on Aug. 21, said he displayed signs of intoxication and failed roadside sobriety tests. Back at headquarters he consented to a breath test, and his blood-alcohol content was recorded at .25 of one percent, over three times the legal limit, according to the report.

    A check of his record raised the legal stakes for Mr. Brennan, revealing that he had been arrested four times for drunken driving in the past 20 years. The last two arrests, in 2004 and 2005, resulted in felony convictions.

    In East Hampton Justice Court last Thursday morning, Justice Catherine Cahill explained that due to the two felony convictions, she was not permitted under state law to set bail.

    Beyond the current charge, and probable prison time if convicted, Mr. Brennan faces a Department of Motor Vehicles review of his driving record. According to Peter Gerstenzang, an Albany lawyer and expert in the field, five alcohol-related convictions would almost certainly result in a permanent revocation of his New York driver’s license.

    A professional surfer from Australia turned rodeo rider rode a quick wave through the American justice system last week.

    Edward S. Crooke, 37, was pulled over on Montauk Highway in East Hampton in the early morning hours of Aug. 21. His blood-alcohol level was reportedly .21, bringing on an aggravated charge of driving while intoxicated.

    In court later that morning, he told Justice Cahill that he was a surfing pro on a forced leave of absence from his profession, thanks to an injured back.

    “I was in a rodeo in Costa Rica,” he told the justice. “The bull got me.”

    Bail was set at $1,000, which morphed into a $1,000 fine the next day as Mr. Crooke pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of D.W.I. His attorney, Edward Burke Jr., had negotiated the plea deal. Besides the fine, the surfer was assessed $400 in court costs.

    Mr. Crooke thanked the justice.

    “Stay away from those rodeos,” she said.

    A traffic accident in Sag Harbor early Friday morning led to the arrest of a resident of that village on aggravated drunken-driving charges, and a trip down Route 114 the next morning for his arraignment.

    Police say that 47-year old Alfonso Bonete hit a parked car on Main Street before being stopped, and failed roadside sobriety tests before being charged. His blood-alcohol level was said to be .21, well over the level that triggers the charge.

    Mr. Bonete would normally have been arraigned in Sag Harbor, but neither of the village’s justices were available that morning. Since under the law an arraignment is required within 24 hours of an arrest, Sag Harbor police drove Mr. Bonete to East Hampton later that morning to be arraigned by Justice Cahill.

    She set bail at $300. Then came a moment of uncertainty. A friend of Mr. Bonete’s was in the courtroom, ready to post bail. Could the East Hampton court accept the money on behalf of Sag Harbor? The justice huddled with her clerk, Jennifer Anderson. No, was the verdict, bail would have to be posted in Sag Harbor.

    Back into the rear of the patrol car went Mr. Bonete. The two-car parade, with the patrol car leading and Mr. Bonete’s friend following, headed back up to Sag Harbor, and Mr. Bonete’s eventual release. He has a future date in the Sag Harbor court.

    At about 4 a.m. on Saturday, foot patrolmen in Montauk made a drunken-driving arrest after James M. McNulty, 29, of Indian Harbor Beach, Fla., pulled up on Main Street outside the Memory Motel and began yelling at three teenagers with whom he’d had a run-in earlier that night. When he parked the car and stepped onto the pavement, several officers intervened. Mr. McNulty appeared intoxicated, they said, and failed sobriety tests.

    At the stationhouse, his blood-alcohol level reportedly exceeded the legal standard. Bail was set the next morning at $350, which Mr. McNulty posted.

    Also arrested last week on D.W.I. charges were Carlos G. Bermeo-Beletanga, 39, and Christopher J. Bottari, 44, both of Springs, and Roy D. Ostrom, 33, of Northwest Woods, East Hampton.

    Pedro Garcia-Collado was arrested as well; no further details were available at press time.