Man involved in fatal crash pleads not guilty


An Aquebogue man is being held on $250,000 cash bail after allegedly driving drunk and causing a three-car accident that killed a newspaper delivery woman in Hampton Bays early Sunday.

Joseph Perez, 30, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated Monday morning at Southampton Town Justice Court.

Mr. Perez was driving a 2001 Ford pickup truck westbound on Montauk Highway, near Ponquogue Avenue, around 4:30 a.m. when he hit a parked car that then struck 56-year-old Donna Sartori of Middle Island, and then hit her car, authorities said.

Ms. Sartori was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

More charges against Mr. Perez could be forthcoming. During his arraignment, prosecutors said the county vehicular crimes bureau is investigating, and might also be pursuing the case, looking at it for a possible grand jury presentation.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | This car was struck in Hampton Bays after a fatal car crash early Sunday morning.
TIM GANNON PHOTO | This car was struck in Hampton Bays after a fatal car crash early Sunday morning.

In court, prosecutors said Mr. Perez had previously been convicted of criminal possession of a weapon, a class E felony.

Mr. Perez, a single father of a 10-year-old son, is currently attending Suffolk County Community College, and is scheduled to graduate this July. He had been hoping to attend Cornell University as a pre-med student, his attorney said in court.

Family members, including Mr. Perez’s mother and siblings attended the arraignment, but declined to comment on his behalf.

Mr. Perez will be turning custody of his son over to his mother, he said.

He is being held on $250,000 cash bail, or $500,000 bond, set by Justice Barbara Wilson. He is due back in court on Jan. 10.

Southampton Town Detectives are asking anyone who may have information about the crash to contact the Southampton Town Detectives at 631-702-2230; or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.