Flanders man charged with vehicular homicide in fatal crash


A Flanders man accused of driving drunk when he struck and killed a newspaper delivery woman in Hampton Bays earlier this month has been arraigned on a slew of upgraded charges, including vehicular homicide, court officials said.

Joseph Perez, 30, was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter, two counts of vehicular manslaughter, three counts of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and a traffic infraction, a court official said.

He pleaded not guilty before Judge Fernando Camacho and was held on $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond.

If convicted of the top charge, Mr. Perez could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

Mr. Perez was driving a 2001 Ford pickup truck westbound on Montauk Highway about 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 5 when he collided with a parked car that then hit 56-year-old Donna Sartori of Middle Island, authorities said.

Ms. Sartori was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a police statement. Prosecutors say Mr. Perez’s blood alcohol content was more than double the legal limit at the time of the accident.

Mr. Perez was arrested by Southampton Town police and originally charged with misdemeanor DWI. He was indicted on the grand jury charges last Thursday.

Mr. Perez is being held at Riker’s Island in Queens on a “substitute jail order.” Jail officials said Mr. Perez was transferred to Queens because he could not be held at the Suffolk County jails in Yaphank or Riverside.

Authorities couldn’t explain why the Riverside jail couldn’t take Mr. Perez.

Mr. Perez — the single father of a 10-year-old son — had previously been convicted of felony weapons possession, his attorney Lane Bubka said earlier this month.

Mr. Perez had been living with his mother and father in Flanders at the time of the accident and was attending Suffolk County Community college on a pre-med track, Mr. Bubka said.

Mr. Perez is due back in court on Feb. 4.

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