EH: Arson Charged In December Clubhouse Fire

Scott McKallip, shown here being brought into East Hampton Town Justice Court Sunday morning, started a fire in an office building at the East Hampton Indoor Tennis complex three days before Christmas, police say.

The East Hampton man who claimed on New Year’s Eve to have started the fire last December that badly damaged the office area at The Clubhouse, a bar and restaurant on Daniels Hole Road, was finally charged with that crime after being taken into custody on an unrelated matter, the East Hampton Town police announced Saturday. The Clubhouse is part of the East Hampton Indoor Tennis complex, and is owned by Scott Rubenstein.

Scott McKallip, 56, was initially arrested Saturday, April 27, on a petty larceny charge. Police said they had received a complaint from the manager of the IGA on North Main Street that McKallip had shoplifted several items from the store, including two Hershey’s chocolate milkshakes, two pints of Tropicana orange juice, and a container of Crush soda. The total value of the allegedly stolen property was $15.84.

Soon after the December 22 fire, East Hampton Town Police, working with the Suffolk County Arson Squad, classified it as arson.

Detective Sgt. Dan Toia of the East Hampton Town Police said the detective squad had just wrapped up its investigation and was planning to charge McKallip with arson on April 29. Once he was taken into custody on the petty larceny charge, the decision was made to process him on the arson charge, as well, he said. The accusatory document on file at East Hampton Town Justice Court says that McKallip “did apply an open flame to an ignitable liquid on the east wall of the East Hampton Indoor Tennis office building, causing severe damage and charring.”

McKallip, who has a history of arrests, mostly on minor crimes, was arrested three times in December 2018 alone, with all of those arrests seemingly related.

First, he was charged with a misdemeanor, aggravated harassment, for allegedly sending nude selfies to a woman who works at The Clubhouse. An order of protection for the woman was issued out of East Hampton Town Justice Court. The day after the December 22 fire, he was arrested again, this time on misdemeanor charges of trespassing, and violating a court order of protection. Police said he drove onto The Clubhouse property in a 2005 Ford Explorer. The order of protection specifically prohibits his coming to the woman’s workplace.

On December 31, he was charged with a felony violation of the court order, when he allegedly went into Fierro’s Pizza in East Hampton Village, opposite Stop & Shop, and began shouting. At that time, witnesses said McKallip “started ranting and raving, and said he had a lawsuit against the cops” and threatened the managers of The Clubhouse. Witnesses also told police McKallip had claimed to have started The Clubhouse fire.

In addition to his multiple arrests in December, McKallip was pulled over at least five times by both East Hampton Town and Village police, and issued numerous moving violations, including three speeding tickets.

After his first two arrests last December, bail was set at a nominal amount, and was posted. But, after the alleged incident at Fierro’s, and the resulting felony charge, bail was set at $5000. Unable to raise that amount, McKallip was held for five days before being released,

Eventually, all three cases were moved to Veterans Court. McKallip is an ex-Marine, according to court documents.

McKallip was arraigned on the arson and petty larceny charges in East Hampton Town Justice Court before Justice Lisa Rana on Sunday, April 28. McKallip was represented at his arraignment by Brian DeSesa of the Adam Miller Group.

McKallip appeared disheveled, and subdued, saying almost nothing.

When it came time to set bail, DeSesa questioned the strength of the case against McKallip, based on the paperwork given to the court by the police. The district attorney’s office had asked, when it contacted Rana, that bail be set at $50,000, which Justice Rana agreed to, after a dialogue with DeSesa.

“There is no supporting affidavit, no admission,” DeSesa said about the papers presented by the police. He said the affidavit in the file from Rubenstein, which he signed January 3, was left blank when it came to monetary damage done by the fire, which should disqualify it as an accusatory document.

The charging documents, DeSesa said after court, “contain no information that puts him at the time, place, or admitting anything to do with the crime, and the affidavit on damage says zero damage was done. Nothing provided to the court this morning for arraignment purposes leads one to believe, or shows in any way that he was there. We are arraigning him on one page that has three sentences, and nothing to support it.”

Detective Toia, however, saw the matter quite differently. “The complaint itself is sufficient to start the process,” he said. If and when the district attorney’s office takes the matter to a grand jury, the full case will be presented, he added.

Any future challenge to the case against McKallip will be pursued by Christian Killoran, a private attorney previously appointed to represent McKallip on all matters currently in Veterans Court.

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