Judge: East Quogue man facing child porn charges entitled to bail

Architect Jay Lockett Sears talks at the Hamptons

Architect Jay Lockett Sears talks at the Hamptons Celebrity roundtable at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. (July 9, 2003) (Credit: Newsday/Paul J. Bereswill)

A federal magistrate ruled Thursday that a prominent East End architect, arrested on child pornography charges, is entitled to be released on bail.

But Magistrate Kathleen Tomlinson in federal court in Central Islip said she does not think the bail package proposed by Jay Lockett Sears, 73, of East Quogue, is sufficient.

Tomlinson scheduled a hearing for Friday to see if Sears could come up with a bail package acceptable to her.

Sears, who has designed 1,500 homes on the East End, was arrested Jan. 25 by Suffolk police detectives and FBI agents on child pornography charges.

Sears was accused of taking pictures of young children at various venues, including society events and beach and yacht club parties, and then -- in a process known as morphing -- creating hundreds of pictures of child pornography by superimposing the images of the faces of the young girls on those of women in adult pornography and those of young boys or himself on the males.

He has been held as a danger to the community, pending a bail application hearing.

Sears' attorney, Richard Signorelli of Manhattan, proposed that his client be released on $100,000 cash provided by relatives, confinement to his apartment except for visits to his lawyer or doctors and monitoring by an electronic bracelet.

Signorelli argued that his client is "a wonderful man" who has never harmed a child, is not capable of doing so, and that his life history shows that "he does have an outstanding character, putting aside these allegations."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Bode argued that there were no conditions acceptable for his release because investigators have identified only six of the more than a dozen children pictured in the morphed photographs who might be endangered.

Bode said that Sears' activity was not a one-time occurrence but had been going on since 2007.

"He was banking on his own reputation," to continue his actions, Bode said. "He knew something that we didn't know."

Also, Bode said investigators are checking out a recent complaint by an adult woman who said that when she was 14 years old, Sears, who had been photographing her, inappropriately touched her leg and also wanted to photograph her in undergarments from a Victoria's Secret lingerie catalog. She refused, he said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Follow Newsday on social media

advertisement | advertise on newsday