Bail gets reduced for driver in alleged fatal DWI crash


A Flanders man who was allegedly driving drunk when he was involved in a three-car accident that killed a newspaper delivery woman last week had his bail lowered in Southampton Town court Friday morning.

Joseph Perez, 31, remains held at Riker’s Island in Queens on $175,000 cash or $250,000 bond, lowered from the original $250,000 cash bail set in his arraignment last week, according to his defense attorney, Lane Bubka.

Mr. Bubka said the initial bail amount was “ridiculous” considering that Mr. Perez has to this point only been charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.

“The judge is supposed to take the financial needs of the defendant into consideration,” Mr. Bubka said, adding that the amount was an “extreme financial hardship” for his family, which is trying to find the funds to post his bail.

Mr. Perez was driving a 2001 Ford pickup truck westbound on Montauk Highway about 4:30 a.m. last Sunday when he collided with a parked car that then hit 56-year-old Donna Sartori of Middle Island, before careening into her car, authorities said.

Ms. Sartori was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a police statement.

Mr. Perez pleaded not guilty in town court Monday.

According to his attorney, Mr. Perez was supposed to appear in court Friday, but Suffolk County sheriffs did not bring him in from Queens.

Mr. Bubka said he was assured Thursday night that Mr. Perez would be taken to court. Mr. Bubka said he was unsure why his client wasn’t transported to his court date.

Jail officials said Mr. Perez was being held at Riker’s Island instead of a Suffolk County jail due to a “substitute jail order.” That order would be filed if Mr. Perez could not be held at the Suffolk County jails in Yaphank or Riverside.

Jail officials said they had no information as to why Mr. Perez had been ordered to Riker’s Island.

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 last Sunday morning.

Prosecutors said that upgraded grand jury charges may be filed against Mr. Perez, but Mr. Bubka noted that by charging Mr. Perez with a misdemeanor instead of a felony, prosecutors are under no time limit to indict him.

Mr. Bubka acknowledged his client’s prior criminal record — a felony conviction for weapons possession — but said Mr. Perez never missed a court appearance.

“There’s nothing to suggest whatsoever that he wouldn’t return to court,” Mr. Bubka said.

Mr. Perez — the single father of a 10-year-old son — had been living with his mother and father in Flanders and was attending Suffolk County Community college with aspirations to go to medical school.

“He’s a really good guy that is in a very unfortunate situation,” Mr. Bubka said.

Mr. Perez’s next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday, though he would appear in county criminal court if indicted on higher charges.

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