A long-time resident of East Hampton, Francisco Lauro Mones-Tonacatl, was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Friday, May 11, by East Hampton Village Police, on an administrative warrant. He was turned over after his family had posted the $5000 bail set by East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana that morning.
Mones-Tonacatl had been arrested a little after midnight on a felony drunk driving charge. Police said that, while headed east in a 2015 Nissan Altima near the CVS on Pantigo Road, he accelerated to an unsafe speed, while also swerving across lane lines. He failed sobriety tests on the side of the road and was placed under arrest.
The charge was a felony due to a prior conviction for drunk driving within the past 10 years. In addition, he was charged with unlicensed driving as a felony, because he had never gotten his driving privilege reinstated after his 2008 conviction.
At headquarters, police said Mones-Tonacatl’s breath test indicated that the percentage of alcohol in his blood was .20 of one percent, high enough to raise the felony charge to the aggravated level.
Neither his attorney for the arraignment, Matthew D’Amato of the Legal Aid Society, nor the court were made aware by the village police department that there was an outstanding administrative warrant from ICE for Mones-Tonacatl’s arrest.
It’s the third time Mones-Tonacatl has been arrested on a driving while intoxicated charge. The first was in August of 2007. At that time, he was allowed to plead to a reduced charge of driving with ability impaired by alcohol, which is a violation, not a crime. In April of 2008, he picked up his second driving while intoxicated charge from East Hampton Town police, and pleaded guilty late that year to misdemeanor drunken driving.
With both the court and D’Amato unaware of the ICE warrant, the arraignment proceeded May 11. Justice Rana told D’Amato that the district attorney’s office had requested bail be set at $10,000.
D’Amato argued that his client was not a flight risk, having lived in East Hampton since 2004. “He is married and lives with his wife and their five-year-old child.” He said Mones-Tonacatl is a chef at Cittanuova on Newtown Lane, where he has worked for the past 10 years. D’Amato also said that the 2008 conviction fell just six months short of a full 10 years, at which point the new charge would have been at the misdemeanor level.
After Justice Rana set bail at $5000, a family member posted it in cash at East Hampton Village Police headquarters, apparently unaware that, whether bail was posted or not, Mones-Tonacatl, a Mexican citizen, was not going anywhere anytime soon.
He is currently being held in a detention facility in Hudson County. According to ICE records, Border Patrol agents have had numerous encounters with Mones-Tonacatl at the Mexican border over the years, which led to the administrative warrant being issued.
He is scheduled to be produced in East Hampton Town Justice Court June 7. It does not appear that a date has yet been set for a hearing in Immigration Court.