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Aug 19, 2011 9:09 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Lesters Plead Not Guilty In East Hampton Town Justice Court

Aug 23, 2011 5:57 PM

“God, this is nuts,” Stuart Vorpahl said as a security officer inspected the dumped-out contents of his pockets on his way into East Hampton Town 
Justice Court last Thursday morning.

There were perhaps 15 fishermen and other supporters of Kelly and Paul Lester entering the courtroom, so the security check turned up, in the plastic inspection tray, several pocketknives as well as, in Mr. Vorpahl’s case, a bit of twine.

Once inside, the friends whispered jokes and gossip while attorneys looked over paperwork at the front of the room. When their turns to rise did come, Kelly and Paul Lester of Amagansett pleaded not guilty to charges that she had sold shellfish illegally from a self-serve cooler and that he was in possession of untagged fluke in excess of the legal limit. Each requested a trial, although Town Justice Lisa R. Rana did not immediately set a trial date.

Afterward, their attorney, Daniel G. Rodgers, vowed that there would be no plea bargain in either case.

“There are a number of grounds for these charges to be dismissed,” he said outside the court building, where the Reverend Steven Howarth had said a prayer on behalf of longtime fishing families like the Lesters, expressing the hope “that this tradition will continue.”

Mr. Rodgers alleged that officers from the State Department of Environmental Conservation entered the Lesters’ home in Amagansett through their backyard on July 8 when they 
were not there, confiscated 
fish that was being filleted 
for dinner, and sold it at 
Stuart’s Seafood Shop in return for a check to the DEC. “You could call that theft,” Mr. Rodgers said after the court proceeding. “This is clearly a case where they have gone too far.”

On Tuesday Bill Fonda, a spokeman for the DEC in Stony Brook, said it was his understanding that the DEC officer had entered a separate building in the Lesters’ backyard that was designed for processing seafood. The permit for selling shellfish, he said, was important because “people can get sick from shellfish that are not processed in a proper way.”

There was some confusion in the courtroom as to what the actual charges were against Ms. Lester. A shorter version of a summons indicated that Ms. Lester was being charged with a misdemeanor count of selling shellfish without a permit, while a longer version alleged a similar count that was a violation, which is a lesser charge. The seafood was at an unattended, self-serve clam and oyster stand—where, Mr. Rodgers said, even the DEC officer acknowledged that an actual sale had never been witnessed.

Mr. Rodgers said he was surprised at the DEC’s “sloppy presentation” and at the fact that there were no DEC officers in court on Thursday. “Usually, the DEC is very aggressive in their cases,” he said.

Last Thursday Kelly Lester said she hoped the case would go to trial. “I’d like to prove that Paul and I are right,” she said outside the courthouse.

Mr. Rodgers said he would be willing to take the case to the Supreme Court if need be.

“It’d be great to take the Dongan Patent all the way,” said Kristy LaMonda, one of the defendants’ supporters. Mr. Vorpahl and other fishermen have maintained that the 1686 document guarantees forever their right to fish “without hindrance” in East Hampton Town.

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What the shuck is going on? They confiscated their dinner! Hope they got top dollar.
By bchgrl83 (52), Westhampton Beach on Aug 20, 11 9:03 AM
2 members liked this comment
Our tax dollars at work for us !
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Aug 20, 11 9:39 AM
Shame on the DEC, and what a lack of respect for their own badges! They should have better things to do.
By YesYesBub (58), East Hampton on Aug 21, 11 7:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Lesters, Kings, Millers, Bennetts and any of the other old Bonac families should not need a permit. Good luck to the Lesters
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Aug 22, 11 12:33 PM
next up, your kids lemonade stand and your flowers for sale at the top of the drive-way. government by the people for the people?
By kaluss (113), Southampton on Aug 22, 11 12:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
1000's of illegals getting free everything in East Hampton, and our govt spends resources confiscating some illegal fish? What a waste of taxpayer dollars!
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 23, 11 9:55 AM
You big gov't whiners have to make the same argument on every single article.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Aug 23, 11 10:47 AM
It does seem like that doesn't it?? Do you know why? It's because we live in a very tense time where big government is at an unprecedented level and continues to grow and distance itself further from the ideals on which this country was founded on and ignores the will of the people it was intended to serve. If you want to ignore it and pretend it isn't happening than feel free to go elsewhere and look away while our once great country is clearly headed towards socialism unless the people make their ...more
By Woody Harrelson (5), East Hampton on Aug 24, 11 3:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
A, the last cry of the clueluess: "Socialism!"

What, you used up your two postings and you couldn't wait 24 hours to post your "socialist" claptrap so you create a new username? You should have used "Joe McCarthy" but Woody Harrelson works as well. Wasn't he the one who played the slow-witted bartender on Cheers?
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Aug 25, 11 8:44 AM
Ohh man, you're right I should have picked Joe McCarthy!... Because I said "Socialism" right?? Oooh how taboo, I could come on here ranting about how people are socialists that would have been soo freakin funny.. Dang too late now... No for your information this is my first time joining and posting on 27 East. Woody Harrelson has no significance whatsoever it is simply a random name that I find some humor in instead of using my actual name. Maybe he played the bartender if you say he did.. I personally ...more
By Woody Harrelson (5), East Hampton on Aug 25, 11 9:44 AM
The Teabagger Socialist-Free Purity Pledge

I do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a
socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am allowed to exercise my ...more
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Aug 25, 11 12:28 PM
I see your point, but I'm not understanding whats with the tone behind it, are you mocking everyone who doesn't agree with you? Because it really seems so. The extreme leftists are every bit as bad as the extreme righties and you know it. I don't support either, the two party system is NOT working and is doomed to fail. They accomplish nothing because they're too busy fighting each other trying to make the other guy look bad and win votes and ultimately stuff their pockets with our money. And we ...more
By Woody Harrelson (5), East Hampton on Aug 25, 11 2:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
not every single one, just the ones where the man is screwing with people. it happens sometimes, actually. In fact, go to any city and compare the areas where folks rely on the man and where they rely on themselves. get back to us about which part of town you prefer.
By kaluss (113), Southampton on Aug 23, 11 10:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
The "Man" is not government. The "Man" is your corporate American overlords. The "Man" is the Kock Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Dick Armey, Karl Rove, Verizon. The "Man" is the dude you fight for against your own best interests.

The man has acquired wealth by exploiting those whom his "establishment" is "keeping down." You don't see the man, because you are blind to his wiles. Or maybe you are the man or dream of being the man . . .

I prefer the part of town where sane people ...more
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Aug 24, 11 8:48 AM
3 members liked this comment
mmmmm, no. I don't fight for anyone buy myself, but as I look around everything I own is from a corporation or made by someone that used material from a corporation. Except for some items picked up on travel, which again, made possible by corporations. The minute corporations don't provide anything I need, that corporation isn't important to me anymore. But rich people and corporations don't scare me as they do you. And I hold special disdain for extreme views from any side of the aisle, yours ...more
Aug 25, 11 5:17 PM appended by kaluss
my comment was removed, but you are right, that is extreme but it isn't a view. your man is currently doing that all over the place, shutting down both organic farms and little girls' lemonade stands. google it for yourself. we agree on something!
By kaluss (113), Southampton on Aug 24, 11 5:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
You mean extreme views like, "next up, your kids lemonade stand and your flowers for sale at the top of the drive-way."

You know what I hold in "special disdain"? Right wing partisans who attempt to portray themselves as moderates.

I am not afraid of rich people, I am afraid FOR the poor and middle class. You keep speaking out on behalf of "the man" and the "corporations are people crowd" and I'll keep fighting for the folks that truly need it.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Aug 25, 11 8:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By kaluss (113), Southampton on Aug 25, 11 11:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
As Stuart said..This is ridiculous...the DEC goes to her back door with no one home?? Isn't that trespassing or did they have a "warrant" for those fillets??
By gansetteer (125), East Hampton on Aug 24, 11 10:38 AM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Woody Harrelson (5), East Hampton on Aug 24, 11 2:56 PM
Hooray for Kathy and Paul Lester. Fight on for truth and the Dongan Patent.
I was litterally sick when the richies on the beach won their case in NY State courts. Terrible thing to take away a a family's way of living. To destroy generations of honest living and they're still trying to do it to the locals.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Aug 24, 11 4:47 PM
2 members liked this comment
If we get hit bad, I wonder who is going to come to our aid, the "lemonade stealing" government or a corporation.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Aug 26, 11 1:19 PM
you see, that's the difference between you and I. I'm not going to be waiting for help from anyone, neither the man nor a corporation. i'm confident in my ability to fend for myself now and in the future. if we get hit badly, as you said, I will come to my own aid....the statement "I wonder who is going to come to our aid" is completely and utterly foreign to me. but i've paid my taxes, so the theoretically the lemonade stand raiding ''man'' has some of my loot so not only do I help myself, ...more
Aug 26, 11 2:18 PM appended by kaluss
either way, i hope you stay safe during the hurricane razza5351. doesn't really matter, we all help each other when it comes down to it.
By kaluss (113), Southampton on Aug 26, 11 2:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
To hell with FEMA and emergency rescue, kaluss needs none of you! He will rescue himself! Good, more aid for us mortals. Thanks.
Aug 26, 11 2:51 PM appended by razza5351
Hah! When bigfresh gives you a "like" you know you're in good company. So, bf, you gonna forgo that nasty government help as well? Should it be as bad as it could, please make sure you guys put a big red x on your front doors so those socialist, gov't rescue workers know not to waste their time trying to rescue you on the way to my house. You should exchange numbers so kl can helicopter you out!
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Aug 26, 11 2:51 PM
Not for nothing RAZZZZZZ, if Irene lives up to the hype, there will be no help from any agencies for a day or two. Time to be self reliant and take care of business yourself. I realize that's a foreign concept to you, but it's time to stand on your own two feet and not rely on someone elses assistance. Don't end up like the losers in New Orleans who had 3 days notice but still didn't leave and ended up on their roofs yelling "We need hep, we need hep!" That's what relying on the government will ...more
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Aug 27, 11 7:20 AM
Yeah, I remember how Bush cut funding for FEMA and refused to shore up the levees years earlier and then sat on his hands while the city crumbled. Thank Christ he's gone.

Despite all of the bravado of you and KA, I know if you would ever need rescuing, the government funded workers would save you anyway. As for me, I evacuated last night. Be safe
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Aug 27, 11 9:22 AM
1 member liked this comment