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Story - News

Feb 27, 2015 2:53 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Jesse Steudte Sentenced To Prison After Fatal DWI Accident

Mar 4, 2015 11:11 AM

A Southampton man was sentenced on Friday morning to at least four years in state prison in connection with the death of a bicyclist he struck while driving drunk on County Road 39 in Southampton last May.

Jesse Werner Steudte, 22, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in December. On Friday, at Suffolk County Criminal Court in Central Islip, Justice Fernando Camacho sentenced him to four to 12 years in prison for manslaughter, 27 months to seven years for second-degree vehicular manslaughter, and one year for an unclassified misdemeanor, all of which will be served concurrently.

According to police, Mr. Steudte was in a 1990 Jeep on County Road 39 when he drove through a red light and struck a 29-year-old bicyclist, Neil S. Fyfe, in a crosswalk, knocking him to the pavement. Mr. Fyfe, who was a caddy at Sebonack Golf Club, was transported to Southampton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

At the time of the accident, it was unclear if Mr. Steudte had been drinking before the crash, because a Breathalyzer test was not administered at the scene, and charges were pending the results of blood tests. Mr. Steudte’s attorney, Colin Astarita, said at the time that it was possible the accident had been caused by a seizure, adding that Mr. Steudte had recently been diagnosed with epilepsy and was in the early stages of a medication regimen.

Blood work eventually confirmed that Mr. Steudte had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit.

Mr. Steudte, who did not address the court at his sentencing, was escorted out of the courtroom to start his sentence, the length of which will be determined by his behavior and what programs he participates in while incarcerated. Mr. Steudte had spoken at a previous hearing, and Justice Camacho delayed the sentencing to allow time for Mr. Fyfe’s family, who live in Scotland, to provide statements to the court.

“Cases like this are always difficult,” Mr. Astarita said outside the courtroom on Friday. “This is a loss for everybody—for the Fyfe family and Mr. Steudte’s family. Jesse is taking responsibility for his actions.”

Although Mr. Fyfe’s family members were not present at Friday’s sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Carl Borelli spoke on their behalf, saying that Mr. Steudte is where he is today because of his own poor decisions. Mr. Borelli asked for the maximum sentence of five to 15 years.

“I appreciate that he pleaded guilty and his taking responsibility,” Mr. Borelli said. “But this is a result of a series of choices. He chose to drive drunk.”

Justice Camacho instead sentenced Mr. Steudte to a lesser sentence of four to 12 years. According to Mr. Astarita, it is unclear what facility Mr. Steudte will be held in, but it will most likely be a medium security prison in upstate New York. He also will receive psychological evaluations while incarcerated.

“Something started to lead Mr. Steudte down this road,” Justice Camacho said. “I can’t help but think there was something that Suffolk County could have done to stop this from happening. But that does not excuse Mr. Steudte.”

Mr. Steudte’s family was in the courtroom on Friday morning but, through Mr. Astarita, declined to comment.

The sentence comes just one week after 25-year-old Hampton Bays resident Allison Rydberg was sentenced to 28 months to seven years in state prison in connection with a DWI crash that killed her passenger two weeks before the death of Mr. Fyfe. Mr. Astarita has said that the difference in sentencing resulted from the fact that Ms. Rydberg’s passenger willingly got into her car.

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So how come the Press publishes the photo of Jesse Steudte but not of Allison Rydberg, convicted of the same crime and convicted just weeks apart?? Are we showing favoritism?
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Feb 28, 15 1:23 AM
No mugshot of Ms. Rydberg was made available by police.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Mar 1, 15 9:34 AM
the press does make selective decesions and Allison's father is a big advertisor
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Feb 28, 15 9:08 AM
Most of the local papers are guilty of this.

When the Sag Harbor dockmaster's boat sank at a Marine park slip during the Halloween storm a number years ago it was because it was improperly tied and lines didn't have enough scope to accommodate the rising tide. It had a nice pair of new Merc outboards that were completely submerged. Not one paper published a story despite lots of people there taking photos and shaking their heads...
Mar 9, 15 12:23 PM appended by Arnold Timer
Correction: It was actually the Harbor Master's boat and the engines were Johnsons...
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Feb 28, 15 12:23 PM
manager at Douglas Elliman-I stand corrected-his office was a big advertisor
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Feb 28, 15 11:19 AM
Having a good lawyer helps keeping pictures out of the paper also-
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Feb 28, 15 11:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, that is very strange. I have no idea what Allison Rydberg looks like, even after all of the coverage of the case. Selective journalism perhaps?
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Feb 28, 15 12:27 PM
Although the above comments may be warranted, this is not the place. Show some respect for the man who was killed in this case, his family and all those lives changed forever by this tragedy.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Feb 28, 15 3:15 PM
This is exactly the place.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Feb 28, 15 8:15 PM
no happy ending here. hope the Pollack and Rydberg as well as the Steudte and Fyfe families and sone day have closure.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Feb 28, 15 4:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
God bless all these families. Reminder to us all- don't be the one to drink or drug and drive, and stop anyone around you who might do the same.
By Shinnecock Hills family (59), Southampton on Feb 28, 15 10:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
So what would be the place - in a reply to a story on the little league playoffs? Really, if you logic held ANY water you could argue that there is no point in punishing the transgressor due to the suffering of the victim.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Mar 1, 15 4:03 AM
The appropriate place would be on the story about the Rydberg matter. No need to drag these families through these rants.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Mar 1, 15 3:25 PM
Since the issue is comparative treatment of different individuals in nearly identical situations bringing up the issue on release of the Rydberg story - which I picked up on immediately but did not have another well known situation to compare it to - would have required relating SOME other victim's story. And regardless which story this inequitable treatment was raised with, NONE of these two parties are victims - they are perpetrators.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Mar 2, 15 12:49 AM
I would even settle for a cheap artist's rendering of Rydberg at this point. She must be a ghost, right? Not. One. Single. Mugshot.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Mar 1, 15 8:10 AM
The most glaring difference I see is that the above case involved two total strangers. The other case in question did not.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 1, 15 8:29 AM
Really the people on this board are worried about a picture? Two people are dead with their families devastated. Two other families are going to watch their young adult kids go to state prison. I can imagine the pain that all are enduring, and what a senseless mess this is for everyone. Instead of asking for a picture how about making your kids read this article, and showing how one stupid act can ruin their lives. How about showing them that DUI is sometimes more than a ticket and classes. How ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 2, 15 7:46 AM
Well said, Chief1.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Mar 2, 15 9:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
Chief1 and others,

Your sentiments are spot on. Four families have suffered greatly due to these two awful accidents. Unfortunately, the press treats various people differently and that results in remarks like those above. Regrettably this is the correct forum to make this point and I suspect like minded commenters wish no ill to any of the families impacted.

It is however incumbent on the press to treat all stories and their subjects equally. This is not the case here in ...more
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Mar 2, 15 4:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well said
By youngdem (16), Southampton on Mar 8, 15 7:46 AM
Also, Why is Rydberg's sentence so much lighter than Steudte's?
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Mar 2, 15 4:59 PM
Perhaps it is because Ms Rydberg is only partly resposible for the death of her passenger as it was his decision to get in a car with her while in Mr Steudte's case he ran into an uninvolved third party.
By bird (829), Southampton on Mar 5, 15 8:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
I believe they had the same judge as well. If you google image both of them, Steudte mug shot comes up, Rydberg doesn't, which proves there's no SH Press favoritism scandal. Families were destroyed, this is a sad story that should be turned into a lesson, not a scandal of journalistic favoritism.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Mar 2, 15 9:10 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By watermill_mike (35), Sag Harbor on Mar 5, 15 12:10 PM
By MACDADDY (49), SOUTHAMPTON on Mar 7, 15 5:49 PM
Among the Feed & Grain's criteria for determining what to publish, "newsworthiness" is far down the list. In the case of Allison Rydberg, it acceded to the wishes of a major advertiser. (Since her mugshot is public record, it could have DEMANDED it, even if the p.d. declined, initially, to "make it available".) In like manner, it has currently relegated a breaking story of STPD corruption to the back pages in the interest of remaining in the department's good graces.

If ethical & professional ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 8, 15 12:19 PM
"in the interest of remaining in the departments good graces"
You know HighHat, you got to get out and smell the friggin roses. It can be gleaned that you believe the press cowers to the demands of SHTPD. If in fact that is the case in your silly little world, you need to get out and kick some butt. You are content to be a knight of the keyboard while the SHTPD tramples on the Constitution and no one is coming to the defense of the helpless press. How could this great injustice happen in our ...more
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 8, 15 1:18 PM
to But I'm a blank!:

Another Right-Wing response entirely devoid of substance but replete with inane personal disparagement. It's like being back in grammar school.

The fact is that a female STPD sergeant alleges that she was subjected to sexual battery by a former police chief and sexual discrimination by other force p.d. officers, and that her promotion was denied in retaliation for her cooperation in the investigation into the Officer Sickles/Lieutenant Kiernan narcotics abuse ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 9, 15 8:40 AM
2 members liked this comment
As usual you twist the debate to conform to your liking. The point was that if you believe the press cowers to the PD, and you accept it as so, and fail to do anything about it, YOU are the problem. To not act while this occurs, in your mind, is to strip yourself of responsibilities as an American. Now if that sounds like "right wing rhetoric, so be it. But I have called you out on calling me a right winger previously, and you cant find a post from me that would define me as such.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 9, 15 12:36 PM
High Hat I am very much against some of the benefits, and pay the SHTPD receive.
That being said I think it is very unfair to say the PD is corrupt, and they can't be trusted. There's maybe a select few in the past that have made questionable decisions, but I believe the force has been very fair to the public. I would love to know what the SHTPD has allegedly done to you.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 9, 15 11:38 AM
to But I'm a blank!:

Actually, while I believe that the Press administration IS afraid of the STPD, its subservience is more a matter of ensuring the p.d.'s cooperation in providing police reports and the like. Stories originating with the p.d. are the biggest category of front page articles in the newspaper and they are virtually labor-free since they need only be transcribed. The Press has no investigative reporters so, unless the cops volunteer information, finding police news is work. ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 9, 15 3:10 PM
Would you spout the same pseudo intellectual clap trap to an officer who came to your aid Mr. Hat? Have you spoken up at any public hearings regarding your opinions perhaps? Seems as if you like to snipe from the sidelines at the very ones who protect and serve our community, typical leftist behavior, YAAAAWN!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 9, 15 4:07 PM
This from a man who still believes pure capitalism actually produces a middle class, instead of the economic conditions of serfdom and Olde England.

There is only one pseudo-intellectual present in my observation...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 9, 15 4:48 PM
to bigfresh:

[“sigh”] To reiterate, identifying oneself as a critic of the STPD at a public meeting would be the equivalent of a turkey sticking its head up at the turkey shoot and crying “gobble-gobble-gobble”.

I would venture to guess that NO ONE, EVER, has done so. (Oh, wait! There was Supervisor Linda Kabot, in 2008, [Arrested for DWI, 2009 - - - Exonerated 2011, {after LOSING her 2009, post-bust reelection bid.}])

We ALL remember Linda, ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 10, 15 12:27 AM
No, we don't, Linda, like you, is no longer relevant. Any chance that you have ever heard of FOIL? Do you really believe that the SHTPD, or any PD for that matter would shied arrest records and other information from the press?
You make up these scenarios in your head and eventually believe them to be true. If I thought like you that the SHTPD would come after me for any criticism, I would stand on the steps of Town hall and vent my criticism publicly. But a poor soul as yours will stand on ...more
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 10, 15 11:25 AM
to But I'm a blank:

Linda Kabot's bogus DWI arrest never WAS relevant to the cop groupies on this forum. It, and the most current STPD scandal, are VERY relevant to objective observers who want a clear picture of department's institutional character.

Yes, I think that the STPD WOULD "shie[l]d arrest records and other information from the press ..." It wouldn't PROHIBIT access thereto (because THAT would get it into trouble) but it wouldn't facilitate it either, employing minimally ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 10, 15 12:52 PM
A female charges sex discrimination and you call it a scandal. That's rich.
And you, have taken complete leave of your senses.
Im not out to impress you or anyone (btw, you have yet to let me know why you label me as a right winger, I've proved you wrong before on this one)but to sit back while the Constitution is trampled on, or more correctly, believe in a world where it is being trampled on, and do nothing is you. Sit in the sidelines and babble on here with similar souls, all debating ...more
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 10, 15 4:13 PM
To But I'm a Blank!:


“A female charges sex discrimination and you call it a scandal. That's rich.”

Indeed. How could I have mistaken complaints that are doubtless hormonally driven for a REAL scandal! (On the other hand, this IS the 2nd female officer in a rather small department to lodge such complaints [which raises the question, “What IS the percentage of female STPD ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 11, 15 3:04 AM
Your editorializing on my comment of the lawsuit suits your infantilism. I am no servant of any autocracy, as I have no master. I do however gather great joy in picturing you being so happy. Sort of like a toddler playing with his prized possessions that he just retrieved from his diaper.
Yeah, at 3 in the morning you may ne happy, happy, happy, but anyone observing you would think of you as a poor lost soul.
Mar 11, 15 3:57 PM appended by But I'm a blank!
Still waiting for you to attempt to document your addressing me as a right winger. Do all liberals and Democrats agree with you on every issue?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 11, 15 3:57 PM
to But I''m a blank!:

By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 12, 15 4:10 AM