The Springs man charged with committing a string of burglaries in East Hampton and Southampton towns could, in theory, spend the rest of his life in prison, according to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.
On Thursday morning, Justin T. Bennett, 35, was arraigned before Judge Richard Ambro in Suffolk County Criminal Court, where he pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years for each of 25 second-degree burglary charges from a 27-count indictment issued on November 1—a total of 375 years if served consecutively, according to Bob Clifford, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.
Mr. Bennett was arrested on Thursday, October 24, while driving on Route 114, according to East Hampton Town Police. Based on witness descriptions, the car he was driving, a 2003 black Toyota sedan that belongs to his girlfriend, and information provided by detectives about a “significant amount” of jewelry recovered in New York City, where Mr. Bennett was allegedly planning to sell it, he became a suspect in the burglaries.
East Hampton Town Police and the district attorney’s office said Mr. Bennett burglarized homes in Sag Harbor Village as well as in East Hampton and Southampton towns, stealing more than $126,000 worth of jewelry, cash and prescription medications over several months this year. Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota has called Mr. Bennett a “prolific burglar.”
In a statement to East Hampton Town Police, included with documents filed with the courts as part of his arrest, he confessed to feeding his heroin addiction with money he secured by burglarizing houses.
Additionally, he was taken by East Hampton Town Police detectives to each burglarized home, where he pointed out how he entered and recalled what he stole, according to Mr. Clifford.
The indictment states that Mr. Bennett hit homes mostly on Springs roads: Montauk Boulevard, Sycamore Drive, Flaggy Hole Road, Lincoln Street, Bon Pinck Way, Gardiner Avenue, Middle Highway, Highwood and Fort Pond Boulevard. He also hit a home on Ancient Highway off Route 114, according to the indictment.
In Southampton, he burglarized homes on Glenview Drive, Toppings Path, Chestnut Street, Noyac Road, Widow Gavits Road, Carol Street, Sunset Beach Road, Pineneck Avenue, Noyac Path, Horton Terrace Road, and Lighthouse Lane, the indictment charged.
According to Mr. Clifford, in the attempted burglary of a house on Flaggy Hole Road in East Hampton, Mr. Bennett was confronted by a resident of the home who was able to later identify him.
Mr. Bennett is being held at the Suffolk County jail in Northampton in lieu of $200,000 cash bail or a $400,000 bond. Mr. Spota said the county asked for substantial bail “because of the number of crimes he is alleged to have committed, and his severe heroin addiction, he is a serious flight risk.”
Although he does not have any prior criminal convictions in the state of New York, he does have a pending misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance, according to Mr. Clifford.
Mr. Bennett is due back in court on December 6.