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DA: Driver Who Killed Woman in Hampton Bays Indicted on 9 Counts, Including Vehicular Homicide

Perez told authorities he blacked out and did not remember driving, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said Thursday.

A Flanders man who allegedly hit and killed a woman in Hampton Bays admitted blacking out while driving drunk pleaded not guilty to nine charges on Thursday, including vehicular homicide, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

According to Bob Clifford, spokesman for Spota, Joseph Perez faced Justice Fernando Camacho at his indictment in criminal court in Central Islip on Thursday morning; the judge set cash bail at $250,000 or 500,000 bond.

Perez is defended by attorney Lane Bubka.

According to Spota, on Jan. 5 at around 4:15 am Perez crashed into a parked car at the Dream Night club in Hampton Bays.

At 4:24 am, Perez was driving at a high rate of speed on Montauk Highway entering Hampton Bays, about 1.7 miles away, Spota said; he sideswiped a parked car and drove completely on the shoulder of the road, striking another parked car. 

Middle Island resident Donna Sartori, the driver of the second car, was outside of her vehicle delivering newspapers when she was struck, Spota said. She died at the scene as a result of her injuries. The officer on scene determined Perez was intoxicated, Spota said.

According to the DA's office, Perez refused to submit to a blood test and a warrant was obtained in response to the district attorney’s office directive. His blood was drawn and tests revealed;–approximately three hours and 45 minutes after the crash, he had a blood alcohol level of .20, over two times the legal limit.

Perez gave a statement to police indicating he blacked out and did not remember driving, Spota said.

The nine charges to which Perez pleaded not guilty included aggravated vehicular homicide, a felony, manslaughter in the second degree, a felony, two counts of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, a felony, aggravated driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, two counts of driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, reckless driving, a misdemeanor, and leaving the scene of an accident without reporting, an infraction, the DA said. 

Initially, after the accident the man accused of driving drunk and causing the accident remained behind bars on only a misdemeanor drunken driving charge. 

At that time, Southampton Town Justice Barbara Wilson lowered his bail from $250,000 cash, which was set at his arraignment, to $175,000 cash or $250,000 bond after Perez's attorney 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 last week. 

The Suffolk County District Attorney's office informed him they were planning to take their case before a grand jury for an indictment on more serious charges. At the time, Bubka declined to speculate what the more serious charges could be.

Perez remained incarcerated, with his family unable to post bail.

Last week, Perez's parentsweare 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 Sartori in the westbound shoulder. The accident occurred just west of Ponquogue Avenue.

Her family is still 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.



Jim January 24, 2014 at 02:22 PM
The Dream nightclub should be sued for serving alcohol to this dirtbag. The scumbags that own the rathole are now resonsible for 3 deaths in Hampton Bays.
dkd January 26, 2014 at 11:30 AM
extreme hardship for the drunk drivers family to make bail ? seriously? We don't know much about Donna , other than she was delivering newspapers and her dog is missing. What is her family experiencing ? Did she have children and this was her way of providing extra income? As a newspaper carrier myself, I can tell you those hours of the morning (4 am) loaded with drivers who no doubt have been at the bar. That she was out of her car may indicate that she was doing a "door" delivery. So, those of you who request the paper be at the "door" please be mindful that it is a human who is responsible for getting it there and in this case possibly cost a woman her life
Susan Crimi January 28, 2014 at 02:13 PM
It's appalling to me that they even dare use the word "hardship". Was it a hardship for him to get drunk at a bar then get behind the wheel of his car then drive and kill someone? Her poor family, they are ones experiencing hardship! Please! It makes me sick that any bail was set. He should be locked up for good. The nerve of him for even trying to plead not guilty.
b January 31, 2014 at 08:56 AM
dkd - from what I gather she was parked in front of the deli. Perhaps she was delivering to them. Which would mean she'd need to get out of the car. However, other cars are supposed to stay in the lanes!! I also find it appalling that this is a 'hardship' for this man. They also mention he is a single father. I do feel sorry for his child, but he clearly was able to find someone to stay with his child while he went out partying till 4 am so I am sure there is someone who can care for them now.

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