Cops Say ‘Career Criminal’ Caught in Act

       Joseph Spezzano, described at his arraignment as “a career criminal,” was arrested early yesterday morning after David E. Rattray, the editor of The East Hampton Star, found him rummaging through his 2000 Toyota pickup truck, parked in his driveway on Cranberry Hole Road in Amagansett.

       Mr. Rattray was awakened a little before 2 a.m. by the barking of one of his dogs, he later told East Hampton Town police. Thinking the animal wanted to go out, he opened the front door. At the end of the driveway, he noticed the light in the cab of the truck was illuminated. Half-dressed, he walked down the path toward the truck, he told police, and saw a man with short dark hair wearing “an oversized brown jacket” rummaging through the center console.

       “I began to shout at the person to get out of my truck,” Mr. Rattray said. The man ran to the end of the driveway and jumped into the passenger side of a waiting car, he said.

       When the driver of the waiting car turned on its headlights, Mr. Rattray was able to make out three letters on its rear license plate. He immediately called police, telling them the car was headed west toward Amagansett. He also told them that his Panasonic camera, which had been in the truck's center console, had been stolen.

       Police put out an alert, and an East Hampton Village officer spotted a similar license plate and pulled the car over on Main Street, near the Star building. After a search of the car, which had four occupants, turned up what appeared to be the stolen camera, Mr. Rattray was brought to the scene and identified Mr. Spezzano.

             Charged with petty larceny and possession of stolen property, both misdemeanors, he was arraigned in East Hampton Justice Court later in the morning. “He is a career criminal,” Maggie Bopp, an assistant county district attorney, told Justice Lisa Rana. Mr. Spezzano has four felony convictions, one of which involved violence, she said.

       Mr. Spezzano gave the police a statement. He and three friends were driving to Montauk from his home in Mastic Beach, he said, and turned up Cranberry Hole Road “to drive around,” when he asked the driver to let him out for a moment. “I went to take a piss, and I took the camera,” he reportedly admitted.

       Justice Rana set bail at $2,500, which had not been posted as of yesterday afternoon.

       In other police news, a Sag Harbor couple turned themselves in to Sag Harbor police and were arrested Monday morning, charged with assaulting the woman’s ex-husband a week earlier.

       The ex-husband, Paul Denkewitz, had just returned to his Hampton Street residence, a little before midnight on March 4, to find his ex-wife, Kerrie Sundara, 45, waiting for him, police said. He told her to leave or he would call  police, according to the report. While the two were arguing, Ms. Sundara’s  boyfriend, Drew J. Charles, also 45, allegedly sneaked up behind Mr. Denkewitz and put a choke hold on him.

       Mr. Denkewitz told police that while he was being choked from behind, Ms. Sundara began striking him in the face with a glass beer bottle. He passed out, he said, and awoke in pain to find his face bloodied.

       Both ex-wife and boyfriend were charged with misdemeanor assault. Mr. Charles was additionally charged with misdemeanor obstruction of breathing.

       Mr. Denkewitz requested an order of protection against them at a hearing on Tuesday. They have since been released on bail.