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East Hampton landlord fined $10,000 for violating registry law

The owner of an East Hampton house who faced one of the town’s first prosecutions under its new Rental Registry law will pay $10,000 in fines as part of a plea deal.

Leslie Cooper, of Amityville, pleaded guilty Monday before East Hampton Town Justice Court Judge Lisa Rana to 10 of the 17 charges against her, including failing to obtain a rental registry number, having no building permit, having no certificate of occupancy and multifamily occupancy (in a single-family house).

Rana ordered Cooper to pay $1,000 for each charge she pleaded guilty to, and the other seven were dismissed.

Cooper requested 10 months to make payment, but Rana said she would allow Cooper six months to pay, then would consider an extension if an application is made.

“Do not wait until six months to make your first payment,” Rana warned Cooper.

As part of the deal, Cooper must allow town officials three unannounced re-inspections of the property, at 105 Springs Fireplace Rd., over the next year.

Cooper said in a previous interview she was unaware that 14 people were living at the house because she thought she had rented only to a mother with one child and the mother’s “boyfriend or husband.” She declined to comment to reporters following Monday’s proceedings.

Outside the courtroom, Cooper’s attorney, Kieran Pape Murphree of Sag Harbor, gave a slightly different version.

“She leased to a woman and her sister and they invited a bunch of people in . . . now that she knows she is trying to comply with the law,” Murphree said. “She has people working there making repairs,” he added and noted his client is “a week away” from getting the certificate of occupancy.

Murphree said an electrical inspection also needs to be done.

The nine adult tenants living in the home also face charges — including overcrowding, unsafe conditions and violating the rental registry law — and have upcoming court dates scheduled. All have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Rental Registry law, which started being enforced May 1, requires absentee landlords to register information with the town about their properties and the number of tenants living there. Property owners receive a rental registry number that officials use to track rentals.

Rental registry violators face fines of $3,000 to $15,000 and up to 6 months in jail, or both.


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