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DAN'S PAPERS, February 27, 2009 Page 15

There’s a rift at Moriches Bay

Let the Fish Choose A Story about Who from What Town Can Fish in Southampton By Dan Rattiner The next time a fish is caught in Moriches Bay on the Southampton side of the Town line, it should ask the fisherman who caught it whether he is a resident of that town. The Town line separates Brookhaven from Southampton. Brookhaven baymen and fishermen who go over that line and pull up something are obliged to throw it back. It’s against the law for them to catch them. This is a great advantage to a fish. The ban is the result of something the King of England ruled in 1688. He told Governor Dongan of New York that in each town a group called the trustees should be entrusted to take care of the waterways, make laws and enforce them, and see to it that the bay bottoms, shore-

lines and wetlands are kept for the residents of each of those towns exclusively. Over the course of time, the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Revolution was fought, and the King was driven away. Many towns, including Brookhaven, dismantled the old trustee system. (In Huntington, the trustees walked out of their offices, took off their trustee hats, put on their town board hats, and walked back in. There was now a new flag in the conference room.) In three eastern towns, however, the trustees remained and today work together with the Town Board on upholding the King’s Decree. These towns are Southold, Southampton and East Hampton. It has turned out that the Brookhaven fish-

ermen do not like not being able to fish in the bay on the Southampton side of Moriches Bay because of some invisible line. And so they have filed a lawsuit against Southampton. They say that their State fishing license, which they got up in Albany, gives them the right to fish anywhere along the shores of New York State. And they say that these old laws, made when the King was in charge, are no good today. The King is gone. The Southampton Trustees say that the state fishing license gives the Brookhaven fishermen the right to fish the WATERS of Southampton. What it does not let them do is fish for clams, lobsters and or migratory fish by dropping or affixing their traps to the bay bottom. The bay (continued on page 20)

MONTAUK EMBEZZLER: QUESTIONING at SENTENCING By T.J. Clemente The saga of Montauk’s Terri Gaines, who was convicted of embezzling just over $500,000 from the Montauk Fire District between 1999 to 2005, came to an end in a Suffolk County Courtroom in Riverhead. That conclusion included restitution of the money through a sale of property and payment from an insurance policy, and a one-to-three-year jail sentence. The well documented case against Gaines, a former secretary and treasurer for the District, included many checks she wrote

to cover gambling escapades to out of state casinos and even paying her son’s private school tuition. In an unusual turn of events at the sentencing, Gaines questioned the amount of money she said she embezzled at the plea bargain, claiming it was really about half of what she’d agreed to. Judge Gazillo cut her off, reportedly saying, “Your last vacation was on the fire district, this one is on the state.” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota called Gaines’ crime, “the most egregious of them all.” The case had elements of a Greek

tragedy. The well respected fire official’s daughter, a life-long resident of Montauk and mother of four seemed to get caught in a behavioral pattern that, unchecked, grew and manifested itself in what Spiros A. Moustakas, an assistant DA assigned to the government corruption bureau, called, “the single largest theft the D.A.’s office has prosecuted recently.” The property Gaines sold to make restitution was actually not her home, but a house on Middle Highway in East Hampton that she (continued on page 20)

Dan's Papers Feb. 27 & Mar. 6, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

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