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Bail Reduced for Driver Involved in Hampton Bays Fatal Accident

Defense attorney says Joseph Perez's family trying to come up with the bail, but the amount is still an "extreme hardship."

Joseph Perez - Credit: Southampton Town Police Department
Joseph Perez - Credit: Southampton Town Police Department
Five days after a newspaper delivery woman was killed in Hampton Bays, the man accused of driving drunk and causing the accident remains behind bars on only a misdemeanor drunken driving charge.

Southampton Town Justice Barbara Wilson lowered his bail from $250,000 cash, which was set at his arraignment on Monday, to $175,000 cash or $250,000 bond after Perez's attorney Lane Bubka made an application for bail reduction.

"It's still ridiculous high considering the only charge he is facing — right now — is misdemeanor DWI," Bubka said on Friday afternoon.

The Suffolk County District Attorney's office informed him they are planning to take their case before a grand jury for an indictment on more serious charges by Wednesday, but Bubka said that he has yet to be served with a grand jury notice. Bubka declined to speculate what the more serious charges could be.

Had Perez been charged with a felony, the DA's office would have only had until Friday, Jan. 10, to indict him, or they would have had to release him without bail. However, defendants charged with misdemeanors can be held on bail.

In the meantime, Perez's parents are doing "everything they can to post the bail," Bubka said. "But, it's an extreme hardship."

Perez, 30, was behind the wheel of a 2001 Ford pickup truck, heading west on Montauk Highway, when he struck Middle Island resident Donna Sartori in the westbound shoulder on Sunday at 4:24 a.m., police said. The accident occurred just west of Ponquogue Avenue.

His truck hit a parked car, then Sartori, and then her parked vehicle. She was standing near her car when she was struck, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her family is now on a desperate search for her dog, Bam Bam, which ran from the scene. There is a $1,000 reward for the person who returns the dog.

Perez, a single father enrolled in college, lived with his parents and his 10-year-old son in Flanders, Bubka said. He was previously reported to be from Aquebogue, though it turns out that was an old address. Bubka said Perez's parents are caring for his 10-year-old son.

According to jail records, Perez is being held at Rikers Island, instead of at the Suffolk County jail in Riverside because of a previous relationship to someone who works at the jail. Bubka said he understands that Perez's former fiancée's father works there as a Corrections Officer, but that could not be immediately confirmed.

Bubka said he was frustrated because his client was not brought to court on Friday for the proceeding. Not having easy access to his client makes defending him more difficult, Bubka said, adding that he has calls into the Suffolk County Sheriff's office to see if there is anyway to house him closer.

Perez's next court date is scheduled for Thursday in Southampton Town Justice Court. If he is not indicted by then, Bubka said he will make another application for lower bail.
Dorothy Galatro Marino January 10, 2014 at 04:31 PM
First of all, it's not an "accident". It's a crash. Drunk driving is never an accident. Second, bail should be set at the same amount for the same defense for all defendants. They drunk driver that killed my son only had a $20000 bail. Why? Third and most of all, his family has no idea what a hardship is. They did not have to bury someone. Their family member is still alive. I say hang all the drunk drivers. They don't deserve bail, ESPECIALLY if they have killed someone. They belong in jail for the rest of their natural lives. What they did was not an accident, it was murder. And their vehicle was their weapon.
Susan Crimi January 10, 2014 at 05:26 PM
This guy should never get our if jail, not on bail, or any other time, he murdered this poor woman and he the choice not to. He killed her and he should know hardship every day of the rest if his life. I don't care one but that the family can't make bail. He should stay in jail because that where he belongs.
Susan Pierre Von Bartheld January 10, 2014 at 06:17 PM
OMG!! He killed someone - he should rot in that jail cell! Are you kidding me? A hardship - imagine the hardship her family is enduring right now.
Susan D January 10, 2014 at 06:52 PM
A hardship??? WAS IT A HARDSHIP to pay for the drinks before he drove home and killed a woman?? Been through the untimely death of a loved one due to the actions and decisions of someone else. Suck it up, pay the piper, rot, whatever. You made a conscious decision to drive a car, you killed someone. THAT'S a hardship, yes, it is. Get over it, and deal with the outcome of your decision. You made a conscious choice. YOUR choice.
leslie January 11, 2014 at 08:56 AM
This man KILLED someone just like in the case of Erika Strebel they should stay in JAIL for the rest of their lives or even better we have the dealth penalty USE IT
PCycle January 11, 2014 at 09:58 AM
...........drunk drivers have more rights than good standing citizens....so tired of it.....where are the rights of the victims.....
Ryan Mullinax January 11, 2014 at 01:46 PM
What part of this makes sense? Someone charged with a felony can be released, however someone that has been charged with a misdemeanor can be held? It seems like it should be the exact opposite to me. Either way, my bail bonds company believe in innocent until proven guilty. http://www.sanctuarybailbonds.com
cbg January 11, 2014 at 02:22 PM
WTF he KILLED someone and he is only being charged with DWI. His bail should be set for at least a million. If he gets out on bail he will likely go back to where he came from or his parents came from. He is high risk for fleeing.
Susan Crimi January 11, 2014 at 05:28 PM
I completely agree CBG, he is a huge flight risk
lisa January 11, 2014 at 06:50 PM
WTF??? Another very poor decision on Barbara Wilson's part! Its a damn travesty this has become not only the norm...but acceptable! SICKENING! BAAAAAD decisions not only on Mr.Perez's behalf..but his lawyer as well and the lovely judge! You people are a Joke! REWARDING BAD BEHAVIOR! Dont know how you all sleep serenly at night. Guess its ok if the deceased had no ties to the parties involved! Friggin PATHETIC! !!!!!
Ralebird January 11, 2014 at 11:00 PM
Bail can only be utilized to ensure that the accused shows up for further court appearances and trial. It is illegal for bail to be assigned punitively.

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