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Apr 18, 2012 12:58 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Robert Stevens Pleads Not Guilty To Larceny, Fraud Charges

Apr 18, 2012 1:25 PM

The former owner of an appliance store in Westhampton who is accused of stealing money from the 401k plans of at least two of his ex-employees pleaded not guilty to a pair of felonies on Wednesday morning in Southampton Town Justice Court in Hampton Bays.

Robert L. Stevens, 68, of Sarasota, Florida, who once owned and operated Bob Stevens Appliance, pleaded not guilty to both charges and was released on his own recognizance following his arraignment before Judge Deborah Kooperstein.

Mr. Stevens, who did not speak during his brief court appearance, was arrested last month in his home state and charged with one count each of fourth-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud, according to authorities. He is accused of stealing more than $1,000 from his employees between October 2008 and May 1, 2010, according to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Through his attorney, James Pascarella of Mineola, Mr. Stevens pleaded not guilty to both counts. He is due back in town court on Wednesday, June 13, for a pre-trial conference.

Mr. Pascarella, who declined to discuss any details of the case against his client following Wednesday’s arraignment, said it was too early to say if the case would go to trial. He speculated that bail was not required because Mr. Stevens turned himself in to Southampton Town Police when asked. Mr. Stevens is allowed to return to Florida before his next court date, according to his attorney.

Wednesday’s court proceeding got off to a false start as Mr. Stevens was asked to sit back down after being called before the judge. Mr. Pascarella and an assistant district attorney were then called to the front of the courtroom and had a private discussion with Judge Kooperstein. Mr. Pascarella then left the courtroom and, when he returned about 15 minutes later, his client’s case was called a second time and Mr. Stevens was allowed to enter his plea.

After the hearing, Mr. Pascarella explained that the delay was prompted by the absence of Assistant District Attorney Leslie Stevens, who has been assigned the case. Ms. Stevens, who is not related to the defendant, was not present for the hearing, Mr. Pascarella said, and her colleague who was filling in had requested more information on the case before proceeding.

Bob Stevens Appliances served the greater Westhampton community for several decades prior to its bankruptcy and closure in 2010. The business, considered a fixture of the Westhampton community, was located just north of the main entrance to Francis S. Gabreski Airport before moving across Old Riverhead Road to an old warehouse shortly prior to closing its doors for good.

Last week, Southampton Town Justice Court officials said that at least two former employees of the business have filed complaints with police.

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Arrested over $1,000 ? Give me a break! I just don't believe it.
By SagHarborBob (91), Life is Good in Sag Harbor on Apr 19, 12 12:54 PM
Around $1k? Couldn't handle this outside of the law? It seems like someone has a beef with Mr. Stevens.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Apr 19, 12 9:46 PM
is's a personal beef usually the circumstances
By Summer Resident (251), Manhattan on Apr 28, 12 11:16 PM
"MORE than $1000" (emphasis added) doesn't mean "$1000" and it doesn't mean "around $1000". $1001 is more than $1000 so is $1,000,001 - I suspect the actual figure is somewhere in between.

That being said, tough times have put tremendous stress on many small business people; the man seemed like a gentleman when I had dealings with him, I wish him the best.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Apr 28, 12 11:52 PM