Two Face Felony Possession Charge after Sag Harbor Traffic Stop

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Bernard J. Kulick seen here being escorted to his arraignment on December 31. Christine Sampson photo

Two people who had been in a 2004 GMC Yukon who were pulled over by Sag Harbor Village Police on Sunday, December 30 at 5:22 p.m. on Suffolk Street Extension were both sent to the county jail after their arraignments the next day, each facing multiple charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance, including a class A felony for possession of more than eight ounces of a controlled substance.

If convicted of the Class A felony alone, the defendants could face up to a life term in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

The driver, Veronica M. Zill, 23, a native of North Carolina living in East Hampton, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Monday before Justice Janine M. Rayano, at which time her legal aid lawyer, Wendy Russo, told the judge her client was 17 weeks pregnant. Because of the charges, no bail was offered and she was remanded to the county jail in Riverhead.

The passenger in the vehicle, Bernard J. Kulick, 28, a Southampton native whose residence is San Diego, California, also faces multiple possession charges including a class A felony. Represented by attorney Carl Irace, he submitted a “general denial” of the felony charge and pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges before Justice Rayano later on Monday.

Both defendants were taken to Southampton Hospital after their arrests on Sunday, with Mr. Kulick complaining of withdrawal symptoms and Ms. Zill unable to retrieve one of three plastic bags she had voluntarily told police were in her vagina.

Police said they had pulled over the vehicle after spotting an expired inspection certificate and watching its driver fail to signal a turn from Main Street onto Jermain Avenue. A computer search revealed the license plates on the vehicle were for a Jeep.

Because of a strong odor of marijuana, police searched the vehicle and allegedly found bags of a leafy green material and narcotics. Asked after the vehicle search whether or not they had any controlled substances in their personal possession, Ms. Zill volunteered she did and pulled two bags containing empty glassine envelopes from her vagina. She said she was unable to retrieve a bag she said contained marijuana. It was removed at Southampton Hospital.

A “general denial” indicates a claim that the facts of a charge are wrong. Mr. Kulick’s attorney commented that “the purpose of the general denial is to inform the court, the DA’s Office, and the public that he intends to fight the charge. He will assert a defense that will make it tough to prove the elements of the offense and is strong enough to significantly mitigate the allegations.”

He told Justice Rayano on Monday that he intended to apply to a county judge for bail. He later explained that “a town or village justice court has limited jurisdiction over felony complaints and no authority to accept a plea (of either guilty or not guilty). The denial of the allegations is relevant to the defense and therefore the bail application.” 

 

 

 

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Peter Boody is news editor of The Sag Harbor Express. Previously he was the editor of the Southampton Press for many years and also edited several other papers, including the Shelter Island Reporter and the East Hampton Press, of which he was founding editor. He was a regular correspondent for the New York Times Long Island section and wrote the novel “Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me.”