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Jan 23, 2014 2:10 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Flanders Man Pleads Not Guilty To Charges In Fatal Hampton Bays Accident

Jan 28, 2014 6:16 PM

The Flanders man accused of hitting and killing a newspaper delivery woman in Hampton Bays earlier this month while driving drunk pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, including two counts of second-degree vehicular manslaughter and aggravated vehicular homicide, at his arraignment in Central Islip on January 23.

Joseph Perez, 30, was also arraigned on a felony count of second-degree manslaughter and misdemeanor charges of aggravated DWI, two counts of DWI and reckless driving, as well as leaving the scene of an accident, a violation, according to authorities.

Judge Fernando Camacho set bail at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond, according to Lane Bubka, Mr. Perez’s attorney. As of earlier this week, Mr. Perez had not made bail and continues to be held at the Rikers Island correctional facility in Queens, where he has been incarcerated since his arrest on January 5.

Investigators learned that Mr. Perez crashed into a parked car in the parking lot of Dream nightclub in Hampton Bays at about 4:15 a.m. that day, then proceeded to drive west on Montauk Highway, according to an email from Bob Clifford, a spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota. Police say Mr. Perez was speeding when he sideswiped a parked car on Main Street, just over a mile and half from the nightclub, then continued driving on the shoulder of the road until he crashed into another parked car a short distance away.

The second car belonged to Donna Sartori, 55, of Middle Island, who was delivering that day’s edition of the New York Daily News. Ms. Sartori was standing outside her car at the time of the crash and was killed. Police have declined to publicly specify how the car came into contact with Ms. Sartori or how exactly she died.

An officer who responded to the scene determined that Mr. Perez was intoxicated, despite his refusal to consent to a blood test, according to Mr. Clifford. After obtaining a warrant, police took a sample of Mr. Perez’s blood three hours and 45 minutes after the accident and tests showed he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.20 percent at that time, two and a half times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to the DA’s office.

Mr. Perez gave a statement to police that he had “blacked out” and did not remember driving, Mr. Clifford explained in the same email.

Mr. Bubka said his client’s family was unable to post bail. Mr. Perez was originally arraigned on a misdemeanor DWI charge in Southampton Town Justice Court on January 16. A spokesman with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office said Mr. Perez is being held at Rikers rather than the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside for security reasons, though he was unable to provide a further explanation.

“He’s certainly remorseful,” Mr. Bubka said of his client. “He recognizes that this is a tragedy, and he obviously didn’t intend for any of this to happen and he wishes none of it took place.”

The attorney also noted that Mr. Perez is a single father with a 10-year-old boy, who is staying with Mr. Perez’s parents.

Mr. Bubka said he planned to file a discovery demand and expected the prosecution to offer a plea deal.

In 2006, Mr. Perez was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon and sentenced to five years’ probation, which could affect his sentence, Mr. Bubka said.

Mr. Perez is due back in court on Tuesday, February 4.

Staff writer Kyle Campbell contributed to this story.

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I can not figure out why bubka would have him plead not guilty and then go on to say that his client is remorseful and understands this is a tragedy. If in fact he is remorseful that's then why not just plead guilty and accept the punishment for the bad choice he made.
By msScha1199 (4), Flanders on Jan 23, 14 4:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
I was just wondering the same thing. He is remorseful for something that happened but he why would he be since he wasn't guilty even though he was drunk and killed someone. Really, someone is confused.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 23, 14 5:04 PM
The legal system is more nuanced and complicated than you both seem to recognize. A guilty plea is a standard first step in a process which may take months or years to play out.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 23, 14 6:30 PM
Whoops, should be "not guilty plea."
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 23, 14 7:33 PM
No I understand. I just think that the lawyer's words could have been better chosen. He sounds a bit foolish.

By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 24, 14 8:18 AM
I think he is more remorseful he got caught, he dont give a $h#$. How does somebody black out but is still able to find his keys, start his truck, and put in drive. Seems like the attorney is using the kid to lighten the sentence saying he is a single father, nice try.. the kids better off away from evil like this. I hope joseph enjoys his new home and roomates...
By paulie83 (7), riverhead on Jan 23, 14 8:08 PM
To bb and msScha - he is pleading "not guilty" to the charges brought against him. He is hoping to be charged with a lesser crime that he will then plead guilty to. Happens all the time and it's partly because law enforcement will thrown anything and everything possible at a defendant to see what sticks.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 23, 14 8:13 PM
I understand it...as I said above, the lawyer's words were poorly chosen. "He recognizes that this is a tragedy, and he obviously didn't intend for any of this to happen and he wishes none of it took place." I should hope he recognizes it is a tragedy and of course he didn't intend for it to happen and wishes it didn't. What's his point? Everyone is 'not guilt'. That seems to be status quo these day. Yes it does seem as though the fact that he is a 'single father' is supposed to help his ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 24, 14 8:23 AM
1 member liked this comment
I'm fully aware of the purpose as I'm sure you've been informed his Lawyer is looking to file a discover demand. And when you look at all the evidence if in fact you have been following the case and not the media attention you would realize at least one of those felony charges will stick. So all that's happening is he's prolonging the inevitable.
By msScha1199 (4), Flanders on Jan 23, 14 11:46 PM
Thanks to our Constitutional rights, this process may take a while. Perhaps you would like to be authorized, as judge, jury and executioner, to "cull" out the people who are so clearly guilty? Based on what, media reports?

PS -- There is no "evidence" because there has not been a trial.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 24, 14 4:41 AM
I think we all understand the "legal" not guilty. I feel we are wondering where the moral guilt is. You did this, you know it, take responsibility, show your remorse , do the time. No one does that. Im not sure what evidence is needed to find guilt. He was behind the wheel of the very vehicle that killed this woman, he was clearly drunk.. Sounds like guilt. Legally everyone is not guilty...sad really.
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Jan 24, 14 3:52 PM