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Charges added in prom parties case

Lee Hnetinka arrives at Southampton Justice Court. Hnetinka

Lee Hnetinka arrives at Southampton Justice Court. Hnetinka is accused of illegally subletting prom houses to teens. (July 13, 2012) Credit: John Roca

Lee Hnetinka, who was arraigned and posted bail in July on dozens of counts related to prom parties at several Hamptons homes he rented, was taken into custody Friday after a Southampton Town justice imposed an additional $45,000 bail and added 60 new misdemeanor charges in the case.

Hnetinka, 25, looked stunned as he was handcuffed and led from the courtroom to be processed and taken to Suffolk County jail in Riverhead. He had paid $10,000 in bail on the earlier court appearance.

The new charges are in addition to more than 70 counts against Hnetinka, who operated Hamptons and Sons to allegedly rent houses and host parties, such as after-prom events, with as many as 100 children in one home, according to the office of Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato.

The misdemeanor charges include renting without a permit and unsafe housing conditions. Officials said there is usually little or no supervision at the prom houses, and that the homes' owners had often been unaware their properties were used for such parties.

At Friday's hearing, Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein became agitated when Hnetinka did not disclose another address linked to his business and could not clearly answer questions about his occupation. He said he managed real estate but could not give an address of a property he managed. Kooperstein said not disclosing that basic information "gives her pause" as to whether he would be a flight risk.

"I do not find him credible," Kooperstein said. "I find him a flight risk because he has been disingenuous."

Hnetinka gave his address in Jericho, where he lives with his family, said his attorney, Michael A. Gajdos of Nesconset. He added that the business address in Flushing, which Hnetinka did not disclose to the judge, belongs to his brother.

"I think the bail is excessive," Gajdos said outside the courthouse. "To say he is a flight risk, when he returned voluntarily knowing there were more charges . . . People commit felonies and get less bail."

But Assistant Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski said Hnetinka "thumbed his nose" at town authorities when he rented homes as late as Aug. 16 for parties, although those charges were not included in those announced Friday.

Also in court was Leslie Jennemann, 54, of Bridgehampton, who prosecutors said was working with Hnetinka. She was charged with 20 misdemeanor counts of renting homes without permits and other code violations. The town attorney's office agreed to a plea bargain that includes a $50,000 penalty, which Jennemann has until Oct. 5 to accept. She was released on her own recognizance. Hnetinka is due back in court Tuesday.

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