Participating in an anti-drunken driving sweep Friday night in East Hampton Town and Village, New York State troopers ended up arresting a Riverhead man on a felony cocaine possession charge.
Marcus Johnson, 40, was pulled over on Main Street near Buell Lane because his vehicle allegedly did not have taillights. After searching the car, New York State police reported finding over a gram of cocaine, along with a digital scale. Johnson was also charged with a misdemeanor, possession of drug paraphernalia for the scale.
For Johnson, the felony charge may have life-changing implications. He has two prior drug-related felony convictions on his record. He was arraigned Saturday before East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky, who told Johnson that because of his prior felony convictions, “I have no authority to set bail. I must remand you.”
Johnson became distraught. He told the judge, through Brian DeSesa, the attorney representing him for the arraignment, that he had been told by state police that he was eligible for bail. Johnson asked to see the law itself. DeSesa showed him the penal law
governing such cases, which precludes local judges from setting bail for multiple repeat felony offenders when they are charged with a new felony.
Johnson asked to speak to Justice Tekulsky, who cautioned him that their words were being recorded, and could be used in a trial. Johnson said he had been clean for 16 years. “I had a clean life. I have not committed a crime. Not one crime,” he said. He repeated that the troopers had told him he would be released. “I’m no angel. But at what point do you get to change your life, after 16 years?” He then added, “I can never change, no matter what. I have an addiction.”
“I have no idea what was told to you, or who told you, but I have no choice,” Justice Tekulsky responded before ordering Johnson to be taken to county jail.
Johnson was not the only man remanded without the possibility of bail after being arraigned Saturday. William Monteforte, 53, also has two prior felony convictions, and is now facing a third.
Monteforte was driving a 2009 Toyota Corolla west on Montauk Highway in Napeague when an officer pulled him over Saturday morning. According to police, his license has been suspended or revoked 26 times since 2007. He was charged with unlicensed driving as a felony. Such a charge is triggered when the driver has 10 or more suspensions or revocations. According to statements made in court, Monteforte has already been convicted of this felony charge twice.
Also arraigned Saturday was a Manhattan man, Scott Campbell, 32, who had been staying at Montauk Manor for the weekend with his fiancé. The two are scheduled to get married in Montauk this coming weekend. An altercation between the two erupted Friday night, and police were called. “This defendant allegedly held a pillow over the face of the victim,” Justice Tekulsky said.
According to DeSesa, who was on hand to represent all those being arraigned Saturday, the alleged victim did not cooperate with the police and did not ask for a court order of protection against Campbell, who was charged with a
misdemeanor, obstruction of breathing.
Justice Tekulsky said that, while that might be true, he felt obliged to at least issue an order that Campbell refrain from any injurious actions against his fiancé, setting November 29 as Campbell’s day to return to court. That will allow the fiancé to speak to the district attorney’s office, which would need to happen if either the order of protection or the charge Campbell is facing were to be dropped. Campbell was released after posting $250 bail.