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Oyster Bay official pleads not guilty to leaving accident scene

Attorney Dennis Lemke, left, with his client, Oyster

Attorney Dennis Lemke, left, with his client, Oyster Bay Public Works Commissioner Richard Lenz, walk out of the First District Court in Hempstead on Friday. Credit: Ted Phillips

Oyster Bay Public Works Commissioner Richard Lenz pleaded not guilty Friday to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident last month.

Judge Maxine Broderick, in First District Court in Hempstead, set a return date of June 12, and Lenz was released on his own recognizance.

The misdemeanor charge carries a fine of up to $250 and/or up to 15 days in jail.

Lenz, 67, allegedly struck a 2017 Lexus on April 20 with his 2015 Dodge Charger while traveling south on the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway, according to court documents. The other driver, Patricia Montes, 53, a receptionist from Old Bethpage, said she was sideswiped while merging from the left lane to the center lane, court documents said.

“The victim pulled over to the side of the highway but the driver of the Dodge Charger continued going southbound and did not stop to exchange any information with the victim or wait for the police to arrive,” court documents said. “The victim did sustain extensive damage to her driver-side door and front fender.”

Montes provided Newsday with photos of her damaged car that showed a dented fender and a wide scrape stretching from the front fender past the driver’s side door. Montes’ repair bill from Bob & Fred Bethpage Autobody totaled $10,234.76.

“I don’t know how you could do that much damage to somebody’s car and not pull over,” Montes said in an interview Friday.

She said Lenz’s car was “flying” down the road when it “slammed” into her car, knocking it into the other lane.

“I’m lucky I kept control of the car,” she said.

Montes said she pulled over, called 911 and waited for the police.

“I wanted to chase him but I was shaking,” said Montes, adding she was not injured.

The accident occurred at 4:28 p.m., according to a desk appearance ticket issued to Lenz. A witness reported the vehicle’s license plate number that police traced to Lenz, according to the court documents. Nassau County police said previously that Lenz turned himself in at 9 p.m. the same day after police visited his Farmingdale home.

Lenz told investigators that Montes swerved into his lane while he drove south on Route 135, according to court documents.

“I thought our mirror struck, and when I did not see any damage on my mirror I continued driving home,” Lenz said, according to court documents.

Lenz’s attorney, Dennis Lemke of Mineola, declined to comment Friday.

A Nassau County police spokesman said insurance companies, not the police, determine fault in such cases.

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