The Wells Farm in Riverhead, where police say a dispute...

The Wells Farm in Riverhead, where police say a dispute occurred early Sunday. Credit: Google Maps

A dispute between party guests and a farm owner in Riverhead early Sunday led to the arrest of the owner at a farm that has been in his family for 360 years.

No one was injured from the incident, reported around 12:32 a.m. Sunday at Wells Farm on Sound Avenue, according to a news release from the Riverhead Town Police Department.

The release said that officers discovered "the remnants of a large party" and arrested the 60-year-old, Todd Wells.

"During the subsequent investigation, it was determined that there was a large party at the location and a dispute had occurred. One of the subjects involved had operated a farm tractor and damaged a large tent on the property," the release said.

Todd Wells, who owns the farm, was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, a felony. He was virtually arraigned at the town’s justice court and released Sunday. Riverhead police said Wells was not intoxicated at the time of the dispute.

When reached by phone Sunday, Todd Wells hung up. Riverhead Police Det. Edward Carey, who handled the case, could not be reached Sunday.

It remained unclear as of Sunday evening what type of party took place on the farm and how many guests were there.

"They're supposed to be packing everything in and be gone no later than midnight," said Eric Wells, Todd Wells’ son who manages the farm. "At 12:20, they were still out there playing their music really loud and to the point where the neighbors were being disturbed."

Eric Wells, who was not present for the dispute but heard about it from his father and saw remnants of the incident later, said the guests became unruly and disrespectful when his father tried to get them to leave. So Todd Wells parked a farm tractor at the back of the tent, Eric Wells said.

"He went back inside and said: ‘I have a tractor here. Does this get your attention? So that way you guys can leave because it's past your curfew," Eric Wells said. "The one who was in charge came up and laughed in his face."

Things escalated when some drunken guests threw beer bottles at the tractor and broke the windows, Eric Wells said.

"That is when he lost his temper and he pushed into the tent," Eric Wells said. "But he did not lose his temper to the point where he was trying to hurt anybody. He just wanted people to be gone."

Eric Wells said the tractor bumped into the tent and pushed over one pole — "much more of it came down than he expected, but nobody was in the way of that area."

He added that Todd Wells' lawyer believes he was "overcharged for the offense."

Twelve generations of the Wells family have owned and run farmland on Long Island’s North Fork since 1661. The farm sells livestock and grows potatoes.

When asked how the incident would affect the family’s reputation in the community, Eric Wells said there’s no way to keep everyone happy.

"It's not something we wanted, to have dirt on our name," he said. "But at the same point, when people are being disrespectful on our property, sometimes things happen. And we have to deal with the consequences and go forward."

With Keldy Ortiz

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