EH DWI Sweep Nabs Five on Fourth

Five men were arrested early in the morning on the Fourth of July during an East Hampton Town and Village-wide task force sweep targeting drunken driving. The task force, financed by the office of Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini, deployed extra officers from departments across the East End, who patrolled the roads from Montauk to Wainscott.

All five men were charged with driving while intoxicated at the misdemeanor level, with one of those arrested was also charged with felony unlicensed driving.

Jonathan I. Pena-Tacuri, who celebrated his 24th birthday on July 3, was driving west on Montauk Highway approaching the Napeague Stretch at about 12:30 AM on July 4 in a 2007 Chevrolet, police said. In front of Pena-Tacuri was a 2008 Toyota being driven by a Selden man, who came to a stop, waiting for eastbound traffic to clear so that he could make a left turn into the Ocean Vista resort, according to police. Pena-Tacuri pulled to his right on the shoulder to pass the now stopped Toyota, but did not pull over far enough, and struck the car in the right rear, police said.

A New York State trooper deployed by the task force was the first on the scene. Pena-Tacuri failed roadside sobriety tests, the trooper reported, and was placed under arrest on a DWI charge. At East Hampton Town headquarters, he allegedly refused to take a breath test.

In August of last year, Pena-Tacuri was arrested by East Hampton Town police, also on a drunken driving charge. On April 5 of this year, he was allowed to plea-bargain down to a charge of driving with ability impaired, a violation, not a crime. However, his license was suspended for 90 days. That led to a felony unlicensed driving charge on July 4.

At his arraignment later that morning, East Hampton Town Justice Lisa R. Rana told Pena-Tacuri that she was suspending his license twice over, first for refusing the breath test, and second, for being accused of drunken driving with a license suspended for an alcohol-related conviction. Bail was set at $2500, which was posted.

Kyle Steven Morgan, 35, of Tampa, FL, was the first to be arrested during the sweep. The 2017 Nissan he was driving on Newtown Lane in East Hampton Village a few minutes after midnight was pulled over by a town officer because his headlights were not on. “I had one Old-Fashioned right before I left,” he allegedly told the arresting officer.

At headquarters, a breath test produced a reported reading that showed a percentage of alcohol in his blood of 0.17 of 1 percent, just below the 0.18 threshold that would have raised the charge to aggravated drunken driving. He posted $500 bail after his arraignment later that morning.

The third arrest by the task force was that of Michael A. Queenan, 44, of Plymouth, MA. Police said he was driving a 2013 Nissan erratically in downtown Montauk at about 12:35 AM, leading to a traffic stop on South Essex Street He refused to take the breath test, police reported, quoting Queenan as saying, “I will probably be over, I will tell you that.” Asked if he’d been drinking, he allegedly replied, “A couple hard iced teas and a couple of drinks at Memory.”

After his arrest, while he was being processed at headquarters, police said they found in his right pocket a concentrated cannabis cartridge, leading to an additional misdemeanor charge. During his arraignment, Carl Irace, who was at the courthouse as part of a program that provides competent attorneys for arraignments on weekends and holidays, argued that police overcharged Queenan, and that the possession charge should have been at the violation level. He posted $500 bail.

Jarrett J. Culotta, 25, of Medford was the next to be arrested. Driving a 2006 Saturn south on Abrahams Path, police said he ran the stop sign at Springs-Fireplace Road. “We were coming from karaoke I had about three drinks but I didn’t drink anything the last two rounds,” he reportedly told police. He refused the breath test, police said. As with the others who refused to take the test, Culotta’s license was suspended pending a hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles. At that hearing, which will be held before an administrative judge, it will be decided whether to suspend his license for an entire year, or return it to him. He also posted $500 bail.

Finally, a Southampton Village officer made the final arrest of the sweep, a little after 4 AM Edwin J. Zeledon-Gomez, 19, of East Hampton Village was behind the wheel of a 2013 Jeep, police said, headed west on Montauk Highway near Georgica Road when he swerved across double yellow lines, then drove onto the grassy shoulder. “I had a few drinks,” he reportedly told police.

At headquarters, his breath test came in at 0.20, police said, raising the misdemeanor charge to the aggravated level. His legal situation is complicated by his age, as Rob Archer, assistant district attorney, pointed out during his arraignment. As an underage drinker, upon conviction, his license could be suspended until he turns 21. He, too, posted $500 bail.

Shelter Island police were also beneficiaries of the district attorney’s office financing extra police for a mini-DWI sweep on the island. There were two arrests made, though one followed a one-vehicle crash on Gardiners Bay Drive about 7 PM. July 3. The driver, Matthew J. Aufiero, 19, and an unidentified passenger, both had to be taken to Eastern Long Island Hospital in Riverhead by a Shelter Island Town ambulance.

Aufiero was charged with misdemeanor drunken driving, along with several moving violations. The same age as Zeledon-Gomez, Aufiero, from Glen Head, will find himself in a similar legal boat as Zeledon-Gomez, with the possibility of not being allowed to drive until he turns 21, when he is arraigned in the island’s justice court.

Arrested in the early morning hours of the Fourth of July was Joseph T. Montag, 39, an Island resident. He was pulled over on South Ferry Road for failing to maintain his lane. He was released later that morning on $500 bail.

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