Fraud Charges May Lead to Deportation

Gabriel Olaru, who already pleaded guilty to a felony charge in county court connected to his placing a skimming device on a 7-Eleven A.T.M. in Flanders in May, was arraigned in East Hampton last Thursday on a similar charge stemming from an incident at the Montauk 7-Eleven. T.E. McMorrow

A Springs man is being held in county jail after being arrested Monday on felony charges of stealing another’s identity for the purposes of fraud, as well as six related counts of petty larceny. Lenin P. Chafla-Sislema, 32, allegedly used information belonging to two East Hampton residents, Fiachra Hallissey and Richard Sperber, to make six payments on various bills. 

According to East Hampton Town police, Mr. Hallissey’s Bridgehampton National Bank account was compromised four times, starting on March 15, when Mr. Chafla-Sislema is said to have made a $663.30 payment to Toyota Financial Services. Police said he also made two payments to Home Depot Improvement, totaling almost $1,000. 

He made a second payment to Toyota on April 10 for the same amount, according to police, this time using Mr. Sperber’s credit card from a different bank, and another payment in May, for $951.26, to State Farm Insurance.

Questioned by police, he admitted using the other men’s accounts. “I’m responsible for using Mr. Hallissey’s account. He gave me $3,000, but I ran out of money.” Mr. Chafla-Sislema, a self-employed contractor, justified his use of Mr. Sperber’s card by claiming that Mr. Sperber owed him money.

At his arraignment on Tuesday, it was revealed that Mr. Chafla-Sislema has had several brushes with the law. Rudy Migliore Jr., the prosecuting attorney, told the court he had been arrested in 2014 on a felony charge of grand larceny in Southampton and had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of petty larceny, a misdemeanor. 

East Hampton Town Justice Lisa R. Rana, noting that Mr. Chafla-Sislema’s three-year term of probation had ended just six days before, set bail at $16,000. Mr. Chafla-Sislema’s wife and infant were in court for the arraignment. She told Justice Rana she would not be able to post that amount, at least not immediately. Mr. Chafla-Sislema was led away by police. When he was placed in the back of the squad car, he began tearing up. An Ecuadorean national, he faces an uncertain future.

A Romanian native, Gabriel Olaru, who has already pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal possession of a forgery device, a skimmer, was taken to Justice Court last Thursday to be arraigned on a related charge. He was arrested in Southampton on May 24 after police said he had placed such a device, designed to steal information from the unwary, on an automatic teller machine.

The problem such criminals face is that in order to harvest the personal information the skimmer has collected, they must return to the machine and remove the device. Mr. Olaru’s choice of targets was not the best: At least two of the machines were in 7-Elevens, one in Flanders and the other in Montauk.

Last Thursday’s arraignment was in connection with the latter. As with most 7-Elevens, the popular Montauk branch is brimming with surveillance cameras. A check of the video from May 23 led to the new charge. 

Mr. Olaru is to be sentenced in the Flanders case a week from tomorrow, in the Riverside courtroom of State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro. He too is facing an uncertain future in this country, Mr. Migliore having raised the possibility of an ICE detainer during his East Hampton arraignment.

James L. Quackenbush of East Hampton was charged with felony criminal mischief on Aug. 20, following an incident in the Montauk dock area. East Hampton Town police said Mr. Quackenbush, 43, had grabbed his wife’s Samsung Galaxy S7 cellphone from her and destroyed it. Because their two children witnessed the alleged incident, Mr. Quackenbush, who told police it was his phone, also faces two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child. 

At his arraignment, because of his ties to the community, Justice Tekulsky ordered him released without bail, and recused himself from the case. It has been assigned to Justice Lisa R. Rana.