Man charged in Hamptons prom party rentals
The man charged with renting Hamptons summer homes from unsuspecting owners and then holding prom parties, in some cases to hundreds of kids at a time, was arraigned Friday on 59 charges in Southampton Town Justice Court.
In addition to the charges against Lee Hnetinka, his company, HamptonsandSons, was arraigned on 21 other charges. The charges ranged from unsafe conditions to transient rentals and renting without a permit. Hnetinka, of Jericho, pleaded not guilty.
Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein set bail at $10,000, which Hnetinka paid. He was released.
Hnetinka's attorney, Michael A. Gajdos of Nesconset, said he has handled "hundreds" of town code violation cases and never had to pay bail. He said that he has not had time to go over the charges and had no other comment.
Usually there is little or no supervision at these prom houses, officials said, and owners of the homes are often not aware the home is being used for parties. More than a hundred kids can be in a house at one time, officials said.
Lucy Sachs, who said Hnetinka rented her Amagansett house under the premise of having a family reunion and used it for a prom party, was in the courtroom.
"I'm happy," she said. "The town is taking it very seriously."
Another alleged victim, John DiStefano, said Hnetinka rented his house a few years ago and did $35,000 in damage and alleged Hnetinka changed the door locks so the owner couldn't get in.
Anthony Tortorella, 24, of Shirley, and Matthew Lapides also were arraigned Friday for allegedly acting as guards at the homes, according to Assistant Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski, who said both men were in control of the party houses and refused entry to code enforcement officers, necessitating search warrants in two cases.
Lapides was released on $750 bail and Tortarello on $250, both charged with various rental-related town code violations.
A bench warrant was issued Friday by Kooperstein for Leslie Jennemann, 54, of Bridgehampton, who prosecutors say was working with Hnetinka in the rental of the homes. Her attorney, William Grigo of Southampton, said his client was confused as to the date of appearance, and he was given only 24 hours by the town attorney's office to produce her.