“Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive.”
Justice Steven Tekulsky quoted Sir Walter Scott after calling the name of a defendant, Jignesh Patel. Patel had been brought to East Hampton Town Justice Court on June 28 from county jail by two deputy sheriffs.
Most prisoners wear green jail-issue jump suits when they are brought to court. However, they each have the right to wear whatever street clothes they have in their property at the jail when brought to court. Patel exercised that right. He was wearing a button-down collared shirt and a wrinkled dark suit.
He had spent the previous 28 days in jail, after the probation department had asked that he be remanded, which Justice Tekulsky ordered done during his last appearance in court May 17.
A year earlier, he had been charged with misdemeanor drunk driving by the East Hampton Town police, as well as a misdemeanor cocaine possession charge. The restaurant manager hired one of the area’s leading attorneys, Edward Burke Jr., who negotiated a plea deal. Patel would not do jail time. Justice Tekulsky was agreeable to the deal. All Patel had to do was meet with the probation department for a pre-plea interview. Weeks went by, then months. Appointments were made but not kept by Patel.
After at least five missed appointments, according to letters on file at the justice court, Patel contacted Burke, telling him that his father was ill, and that he needed to fly to London. Burke relayed this information to the court, and to the probation department.
On May 9, the probation department sent a new letter to the court. “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 stated.
“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.” At that point, the request that Patel be remanded was made, and agreed to by Justice Tekulsky.
On May 17, after being called before the judge, Burke at his side, Patel was ordered handcuffed. Court officers turned him over to the deputy sheriffs.
He was scheduled to be brought back to court May 31. The probation department got its interview in before then. The court was told, in a new letter, that “the defendant was remorseful and apologized for being deceitful and evading both the probation department and the court.”
The reason he lied, the probation department said, was because he was fearful of deportation. On May 21, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer was placed on Patel. However, due to the Memorial Day holiday, the probation department had not finished its report. Patel would spend another two weeks in jail.
June 28 was likely the last time he will appear in East Hampton. Burke told the court Patel was agreeing to a new offer from the district attorney’s office, a guilty plea, in return for a 90-day sentence. “The court may also be aware, there is an ICE hold,” Burke said.
“Is he staying or is he going?” Justice Tekulsky asked. “He is going,” was the answer. Absent the deportation order and the agreed-upon sentence, Justice Tekulsky said, “I would sentence you to a year in jail for your misrepresentations to your counsel and to the court.”
Burke said afterward that Patel had agreed not to contest the deportation order.