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East Hampton homeowner to appear in court on charges related to illegal rentals

The home of Manuel Guerrero is pictured after

The home of Manuel Guerrero is pictured after East Hampton officials executed a search warrant, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. Credit: Doug Kuntz

The court date for East Hampton Town resident Manuel Guerrero to answer charges that he illegally used his single-family house as a multifamily dwelling has been rescheduled for Jan. 11.

Guerrero, 54, of 2 Amagansett Drive East, was charged by the town with having no building permit, no certificate of occupancy, converting a single-family home to a multifamily home, and overcrowding after a search warrant was executed at his house on Nov. 9.

Guerrero, a native of Ecuador, was charged with similar violations in 2006 after a search warrant was issued on the same property, but he said that in both cases he was falsely accused. He said in the 2006 case he was fined "about $500."

After entering a not guilty plea in East Hampton Town Justice Court last week, Guerrero said that the seven tenants he is accused of renting to were all family members, friends or acquaintances who are also from Ecuador and were staying with him on a temporary basis.

Guerrero and the seven alleged tenants appeared in East Hampton Town Justice Court Monday. The tenants were each given fines of $250 and were not required to return. They had been charged with illegally occupying the house. Assistant Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski had said that they had to have known the four-bedroom house had been converted to eight bedrooms illegally because of the way the house was "cordoned off into individual apartments."

Guerrero's attorney, Robert J. Coyle Jr., of Sag Harbor, asked the court for an adjournment of Guerrero's proceedings to give his client time to come into compliance on any alleged violations and the Jan. 11 date was set.

Sendlenski told the court it was not known whether the seven were still living at the house and Coyle prevented Guerrero from commenting on whether they were still there. But he added, "The goal is to get the proper approvals from the town for his family to stay there."

Town code enforcement officers, assisted by the town police department, executed the search warrant after reports that the house had been converted to a multifamily residence and was overcrowded. Guerrero said a disgruntled former tenant who had rented a room in the house for about a year had called the town.

Officials executing the search warrant said people were living in the basement and garage, and that a laundry room, dining room and office had been converted to bedrooms.

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