He was arrested, charged with drunk driving, posted bail, then disappeared for almost 20 years. Last Thursday, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini announced the apprehension of Wilson Pantosin, the fugitive wanted for what the DA described as “a particularly brutal” and a “particularly troubling” crime.
Just before midnight on January 28, 1999, Pantosin was allegedly under the influence when he crashed his car on Hog Creek Road in East Hampton. The car swerved across the roadway, hit a utility pole and tree, flipped, and caught on fire. “The defendant told authorities there was no one in the vehicle,” Sini recounted. “While he was lying, his friend was burning to death.”
Further investigation revealed the victim, Wilson Illaisaca, 25, perished in the fire, not from injuries sustained in the crash. The victim’s charred remains were found after the fire was extinguished.
Pantosin was arrested at the scene on a count of drunk driving. By the time he was indicted, in 2003, he was presumed to be in Ecuador and charges of vehicular manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter had been added to the DWI counts. The indictment accuses the defendant of causing Illaisaca’s death “with criminal negligence.”
After the arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip last week, Sini praised the county PD’s fugitive squad for the “extraordinary” work it does. He declined to reveal whether Pantosin was arrested for another crime when he was discovered in Harris County, Texas, last month. The DA did note Pantosin’s fingerprints were in a national system and an active warrant for his arrest was distributed along with an “enforcement alert.”
Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bopp of the Vehicular Crime Bureau requested remand and it was granted by Judge Fernando Camacho at the arraignment—that’s jail and no bail. “He’s not going anywhere anytime soon,” Sini said.
“Justice doesn’t expire in Suffolk County,” the DA declared, lauding the fugitive squad’s mission to “bring justice to families, loved ones, and communities that yearn for it for a sustained period of time.”