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.