Dan Rattiner's Stories

Hamptons Parking Problems: Faking Your Way to a Less Expensive Permit Is a Bad Idea

Sag Harbor nabs boat fraudster, and a story about fake East Hampton beach stickers.

The Sag Harbor harbormaster, Bob Bori, was out in the police boat in the bay last week, conducting routine investigations and issuing summonses where necessary by pulling up alongside boats and asking to see registrations. One such ship was a 1973 Boston Whaler. The papers onboard showed that the boat was registered to a Matthew Keller who lives in Sag Harbor, according to an East Hampton Star report, and that jibed with the fact that Matthew Keller, a village resident, had rented a boat slip for the summer, and for five summers before that, at the reduced village resident rate.

Further investigation, which included help from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Division of Field Investigation, told another story. And according the Star, this resulted in the Chief of Police of the Village, Austin J. McGuire, filing charges against Matthew Keller that include 10 felonies, 5 accounts of offering a false instrument for filing and 5 more for falsifying business records in the first degree. Keller was arrested and released on $1,000 bail. These charges, if proved true, could result in fines or a jail term, or both. The village takes these things very seriously.

Speaking to a reporter for The East Hampton Star, the Chief described the alleged scheme. Mr. Keller had an acquaintance who had lived in Sag Harbor prior to 2014 but had moved away and so was not eligible for a reduced-rate boat slip for his 1973 Boston Whaler. Paying for a slip in Sag Harbor therefore could only be done at a higher non-resident rate. It would be $2,400 a year higher than for the resident. Instead, the Chief believes, Mr. Keller decided to help his friend by playing a trick on the village.

When applying for a 2013 boat slip, Mr. Keller allegedly supplied the village a forged document that showed this Boston Whaler was owned by himself at his Sag Harbor address. Thus the former resident could still park his boat in Sag Harbor and still pay the reduced fee offered to Sag Harbor residents. He had done this for each of the last six years, the Chief said, thus fleecing the village coffers of $12,000.

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When asked why the charge was not made upon the former resident, the Chief said that the application for the reduced rate permit came by email from Mr. Keller. He also told the Star that the man who owned the boat was “uncooperative,” and that the fraud perpetrated in 2013 was beyond the statute of limitations, so there could be no charges filed for that year.

As you can imagine, this is quite a feather in the cap of both the chief of police and the harbormaster. High grades for their hard work in uncovering this stunning crime.

I recall a story not long ago about people not from East Hampton Village forging village beach parking stickers available for residents only, so they could put them on their cars and park for free in the parking lots at Main Beach, Two Mile Hollow and Georgica. Officers with flashlights had noticed the flaws in these parking stickers when they examined them closely in the parking lots, and this turned out to be not just one forged beach sticker but a whole group of fraudulent stickers that were being sold for money, and the police in East Hampton were complimented at the time for their hard work in smashing this ring and rounding up the perps.

I think I read recently that one of these perps came up for parole but it was denied. But maybe not.

These are serious crimes, and I’ve been told, or maybe not, that the village is dusting off an old electric chair which has not been in use for years.

This seems to tie in also to the flurry of parking tickets handed out to otherwise happy visitors from afar who came here for the Hamptons International Film Festival and parked their cars on streets where signs say parking is permitted for up to two hours. Many of the films seen were longer than two hours. The summonses on these windshields created quite a windfall for the village.

There was a time, eight years ago, when my wife and I came out of Citarella in East Hampton with shopping bags to find that our two-year-old Chevy Tahoe, parked out front with our dog in it, was being towed away. Local police officers on the scene told us they’d been cruising slowly along the street with a new-fangled computer gun that scanned license plates of parked cars to see, by instantly getting reports from Motor Vehicles, if any one of them had, at any time in the past, had a lapse in insurance. Ours did. It was for one week in a transfer two years earlier, when we had turned in a Range Rover for the Tahoe and had transferred the plates, which our insurance company had failed to do seamlessly.

Because of this indiscretion, the Tahoe was taken to the impound, we had to hail passing cars until one stopped and took us home, and it took two weeks to get the paperwork straightened out and paid for, the storage fees paid for and the ticket violation paid for. Fortunately, we escaped “Old Sparky,” the electric chair that was in use at the time.

But that’s another story.

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