An East Hampton man arrested last week for allegedly selling cocaine here was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury in Riverhead.
Moshe A. Stephens, 32, was arrested by East Hampton Town police working in conjunction with Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s East End Drug Task Force last Thursday afternoon and charged with making two sales of cocaine last year, both class B felonies.
The only crimes more serious in New York penal law are class A felonies, which include murder. If convicted, Mr. Stephens faces at least a year in prison and a maximum of 25 years.
Because Mr. Stephens has two prior felony convictions on his record, Justice Lisa R. Rana told him during his arraignment in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Friday that he was not eligible to have bail set at the local level and would be held in the county jail.
The justice asked him how long he had lived in East Hampton.
“All my life,” he responded. Mr. Stephens, who appeared at times to be holding back tears, spoke quietly, his head bowed, answering most of the justice’s questions with, “Yes, your honor,” or “No, your honor,” in a barely audible voice. He said that he had just started a new job and was trying to get his life back on track.
“Is there any way I can plead guilty today?” Mr. Stephens asked.
“Absolutely not,” Justice Rana said, cutting him off. She explained the severity of the charges and told Mr. Stephens that, to protect his rights, he must speak to an attorney before making any legal decisions.
Justice Rana told him she would appoint an attorney from the Legal Aid Society to represent him. She said that she had contacted Legal Aid, asking if an attorney could be sent to represent Mr. Stephens for his arraignment, but the society declined, despite the high level of the charges.
After being arraigned, Mr. Stephens sat down on a bench set aside for prisoners. Two older women who said they were friends of the family spoke briefly with him. “This is something from last year,” Mr. Stephens told them, looking down. The two women asked him who in his family they should reach out to. Mr. Stephens was uncertain.
The justice finished working on Mr.Stephens’s paperwork and handed it to an officer, who led the defendant away.
Detective Greg Schaefer of the town police declined to comment yesterday on the arrest, other than to say it had come out of an ongoing investigation.
In other news out of justice court, two men accused of stealing $26,000 worth of copper gutters off an Amagansett house are seeking plea deals with the district attorney’s office through their attorneys. In exchange for a set jail sentence, William Lagarenne and Freddie Parker, who were arrested on March 6, would be allowed to plead to misdemeanor charges, a reduction from the three felony charges, including grand larceny, they are each now facing. Their cases have been transferred to county court in Riverside.