A judge Tuesday ordered a Manhattan real estate developer held without bail in the killing of his Sag Harbor friend while driving drunk after a prosecutor said the defendant planned to escape justice by sailing to Venezuela.
“There is no amount of bail I could set that would ensure his return to court. He is remanded,” Judge Fernando Camacho said in Suffolk County Court in Central Islip at the conclusion of a bail application by an attorney for Sean Ludwick, 43.
Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman of Manhattan had sought a bail of $3 million and said Ludwick would wear a monitoring bracelet and be confined to his home if released. Ludwick owns homes in Manhattan and Bridgehampton.
Assistant District Attorney John Scott Prudenti told the judge Ludwick went to Puerto Rico to buy a sailboat earlier this month while free on $1 million bail.
He returned to the mainland, but sent a $385,000 payment to Puerto Rico for the 50-footer, Prudenti said. Ludwick had planned to return to the island and sail the boat to Venezuela, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, the prosecutor said.
Ludwick faces a maximum of 8 1⁄3 to 25 years on the most serious charge, aggravated vehicular homicide. He is accused of driving drunk when he crashed his Porsche into a utility pole on Aug. 30, killing his passenger, real estate broker Paul Hansen, 53, near Hansen’s Sag Harbor home.
As the court session began Tuesday, the judge said he contacted law enforcement after an employee of the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan called his chambers earlier this month and left a voice mail about Ludwig attempting to buy a boat with the intent of sailing it to South America.
Brafman said Ludwick and the employee had a dispute.
“The lesson here is don’t fight with the concierge,” Brafman said.
After Ludwick’s arrest, prosecutors got a warrant to examine his cellphone and found thousands of online searches indicating he intended to flee, District Attorney Thomas Spota said outside the courtroom.
Searches included terms such as “five countries with no extradition to the United States” and “how do fugitives escape,” Spota said.
Other searches included “the percentage of bail jumpers who are actually caught,” and “how far is it from Curacao to Venezuela,” Spota said, adding there were a lot of searches on what happens when a defendant does not show up for trial.
Ludwick, a managing partner and founder of Blackhouse Development, and Hansen, a real estate broker, had been out drinking before the crash, prosecutors said.
Ludwick had a blood-alcohol level of 0.18 percent when he was tested five hours after the accident, which meant he was more intoxicated at the time of the crash, Spota said.
Prosecutors say Ludwick dragged Hansen’s body out of the convertible and left it by the road before trying to drive away in a car missing two wheels.
The judge adjourned the case until April 14.