An East Hampton town trustee has been charged with choking a town employee during a confrontation last weekend, authorities and the trustee's attorney said yesterday.

Nathaniel Miller, a bayman who was re-elected in November, pleaded not guilty on Sunday in East Hampton Town Court to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing the breathing of another person, said Robert Clifford, a spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota.

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Miller was released without bail and ordered to return to court on Aug. 14. He faces up to 1 year in jail if he is convicted, Clifford said. The victim's name was not immediately available.

Miller was arrested Saturday night after arguing with another man, said Miller's attorney, Daniel G. Rodgers of Southampton. Miller was accused of holding the victim in a headlock, said Rodgers, adding that the victim, who works at a town garage, was not seriously injured. Rodgers said he would argue in court that Miller was defending himself during the argument.

"There will be no plea bargain," Rodgers said "This case will go to trial and he will be found innocent."

Rodgers said the argument was over an incident about four years ago in which a boat belonging to a friend of Miller allegedly had been burned by the victim, who was convicted of burning the boat but had failed to pay court-ordered restitution to the owner, Rodgers said.

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Miller is one of nine members of the trustee board, which is separate from the East Hampton Town Board. Trustees are responsible for commonly owned town land such as bay bottoms and beaches. Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell declined to comment on Miller's arrest.