The manager of a trendy Greenport restaurant was ordered remanded to county jail last Thursday by East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky. Jignesh Patel, 39, will remain there until at least May 31, when he is to be brought back to East Hampton by Suffolk County deputy sheriffs. He is not eligible for bail.
Before remanding Patel, Justice Tekulsky had some sharp words for him, telling him that he had lied to his own attorney, to the probation department, and to the court.
Patel’s path to jail began on Springy Banks Road May 7 of last year, when, according to East Hampton Town Police, he was driving a 1987 BMW at 45 miles per hour where the speed limit is 30. An officer followed him as he turned onto Alewive Brook Road and pulled into a driveway.
He failed sobriety tests, police said. He told police that he was coming from a wine tasting. When police searched his car, they allegedly found a small vial of cocaine. “I don’t know how that got there,” he is quoted as telling the arresting officer. He was charged with misdemeanor counts of drug possession and driving while intoxicated, along with several moving violations.
Patel retained a highly regarded local attorney, Edward Burke Jr. Over the course of several court appearances last summer, Burke negotiated a plea bargain deal. In return for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor DWI charge, most of the other charges would be dropped. Before that could happen, however, the court ordered a pre-plea investigation of Patel be done by the probation department to determine what a proper sentence would be.
At that point, the probation department tried to set up an appointment with Patel for an interview. And tried and tried. “We have not been successful in interviewing this defendant despite repeated attempts, at least five appointments, and by contacting his attorney,” the probation department wrote Justice Tekulsky on March 12.
Letters from the department to the Tribeca address Patel had on file with the court were returned as “undeliverable.” Patel’s phone number was disconnected.
According to the letters from the probation department on file at East Hampton Town Justice Court, Patel then contacted Burke, telling him that his father was ill, and that he needed to fly to London. Patel’s court case was adjourned again, and a new date was set up with probation for the interview.
Unbeknownst to Burke, however, Patel was lying to him, the probation department said in a letter dated May 9. “Patel is not and has not been in London, but is, in fact, working as general manager of the American Beech Restaurant located at 300 Main Street in Greenport.”
The letter continues, “Mr. Patel has been completely dishonest with providing his address, phone number, and employment status to probation and to the court for the past five months.”
The probation department said in that letter that the owners of American Beech had been completely cooperative with them and did not accuse them of any wrongdoing.
Probation asked Justice Tekulsky in the May 9 letter that, if Patel were to show up for his next court date on May 17, that he be remanded so that they could finally conduct the court-ordered interview. If he was a no-show, the letter asked that a warrant for his arrest be issued by the court.
Patel’s name was called Thursday by Justice Tekulsky, just as during his previous court appearances. Patel was in the courtroom. He stood next to Burke, as he had previously.
This time, however, a court officer stepped directly behind him. Justice Tekulsky ordered Patel’s remand, and the officer snapped handcuffs onto Patel’s wrists. He was taken from the courthouse to East Hampton Town police headquarters, where he was picked up by Suffolk County deputy sheriffs.
If the probation department of Suffolk County doesn’t interview Patel between now and May 31, it won’t be because they don’t know where he is: he is in a cell in county jail in Riverside.