DA: Hamptons landlord spied on renters
An East Hampton landlord has been charged with planting hidden cameras throughout his house -- including four in the master bedroom and one in a bathroom -- to spy on his tenants.
Although the landlord -- Donald Torr, 69, also with a home in Celebration, Fla. -- acknowledges the cameras were there, his attorney said they were only for security. He said Torr never watched any videos of tenants, if the cameras were even on at the time.
Torr pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 14 counts of second-degree unlawful surveillance and nine counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He faces a maximum of 10 to 20 years in prison.
Suffolk Assistant District Attorney John Cortes said Torr charged $7,000 a week last summer for the use of the house.
"People thought they were purchasing a relaxing week in the Hamptons, but they actually bought an invasion of their privacy," Cortes said.
Two sets of tenants who discovered the cameras have sued Torr in federal court in Central Islip. Cortes said the criminal case concerns hundreds of hours of video of 13 adults and nine children.
He asked Suffolk County Court Judge John Iliou to set bail of $500,000 cash or $1 million bond. Torr had never been arrested.
Defense attorney Bruce Barket of Garden City said security cameras are common in homes. The only questions are whether the cameras were on while tenants were there, if Torr knew that and if he watched the video.
"These allegations he adamantly denies," Barket said.
He said his client would have surrendered to the district attorney's office if it had asked, but he said prosecutors preferred the "charade" of arresting him in his home in Florida. He said bail of $10,000 was appropriate.
Iliou set it at $100,000 cash or $300,000 bond. Barket said it would be posted in a day or two.After the arraignment, both lawyers spoke to reporters in the courthouse beneath the gaze of two security cameras.