Former Owner Pleads Guilty

Arthur A. Schneider, the former owner of Montauk’s Memory Motel, pleaded guilty on March 20 in Suffolk County Criminal Court to a misdemeanor charge of petty larceny, reduced from grand larceny, according to his lawyer, in order to allow him time to raise the agreed-upon restitution due New York State.

The state had alleged that Mr. Schneider failed to pay $120,000 in sales and hotel tax fees from his operating company, Excessive Merriment Corporation, over a four-year period from the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2010. He will  be sentenced by acting State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in the county court in Central Islip on June 24.

Speaking of the case last Thursday, his attorney, Colin Astarita, said the delay in sentencing was part of the agreement with the district attorney’s office for the reduced charge. The lawyer would not say just how much Mr. Schneider must pay, but called it a “substantial” sum, “with restitution for any unpaid taxes, fees, and interest.”

“The state was saying that there were unpaid taxes for people who stayed at the motel,” Mr. Astarita explained. “His position was that a lot of those rooms, rather than renting them overnight, or weekends, which would require a tax element added to the guest’s bill, he had rented to people out there for the summer, Irish kids. His position was that because I am renting it out for the entire summer, I am not running an overnight hotel, and I am not required to tax them.”

The D.A. was “satisfied with his explanation to the extent that they decided not to pursue it on the felony level and allow him to pay back restitution,”  Mr. Astarita said.

There are several motels in Montauk which rent in season to workers from away. Under the East Hampton Town zoning code, a motel is allowed to rent on a long-term basis while retaining its motel status. The state also permits longer-term stays at motels without the status of the business changing.