He Had Carte Blanche, or So He Said

An East Hampton man was charged with felony burglary on Friday afternoon. East Hampton Town police said Dustin G. Miller, 25, had entered a garage at 91 Whooping Hollow Road in East Hampton on May 18 and removed items without the owner’s permission.

A worker on the property, Carlos Guzman, told police that he was in the basement that day, after other workers there had left, when he heard voices in the yard. Going outside, he saw Mr. Miller and another man. “He was carrying an orange and white backpack leaf blower and a lot of electrical wiring” that had been stored in the garage, Mr. Guzman said in a statement.

There were two vehicles parked in the driveway, he added, one of them a gray Nissan.

Mr. Guzman said Mr. Miller told him, “Thanks” as he was walking away, and the two men drove off. He saw the gray Nissan again two weeks later, and “I told my boss, and he called the police.”

Mr. Miller told officers that he had the owner’s permission to remove the items. He stated that while driving to his mother’s house, also on Whooping Hollow Road, he had seen several motors lying in the front yard. “I was looking to build a motorized scooter, and those motors I saw would be helpful,” he stated. He said he had been given carte blanche to remove any motors he wanted from the property.

The man with him, whom he knew only as Dave, took most of the items and sold them for scrap, Mr. Miller told police.

The garage door was open, but according to police it was burglary the moment Mr. Miller entered, without the owner’s permission, with the intent to commit the crime of theft. “I went a few feet into the garage to get more of the stuff,” he said in his statement. According to the police, it was a few feet too many.

Justin Bennett, 35, a Springs man accused of stealing more than $125,000 in cash and jewelry during a series of daytime burglaries on the South Fork, was sentenced last month to nine years in prison and ordered to pay his victims over $79,000 in restitution. Erin Reiser, whose car he used during many of the burglaries, pleaded guilty last month to possession of stolen property. Sentencing information on Ms. Reiser was not available yesterday from the criminal court’s records department.

Michael Russell, a former East Hampton High School basketball star, has turned himself in to Massachusetts authorities, preparatory to being sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the January home-invasion robbery of four Worcester Polytechnic Institute students. Mr. Russell was accused of being one of three masked men, one of whom was armed, who pushed their way into the students’ apartment.

Mr. Russell had been scheduled to appear in East Hampton Town Justice Court last Thursday on unrelated charges stemming from alleged unauthorized use of a debit card. Those charges may now be dropped; the district attorney’s office did not obtain an indictment. “Those charges are bogus,” Mr. Russell had said last month during a previous appearance in the local court. He claimed the card’s owner had given him permission to use it.