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Mar 1, 2018 3:20 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Fugitive From 1999 East Hampton Manslaughter Case Arraigned In Islip

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini shows two mug shots of Wilson Pantosin outside Suffolk County First District Court in East Islip on Thursday.  JON WINKLER JON WINKLER
Mar 6, 2018 4:53 PM

A man who authorities said fled the country after being charged in connection with a fatal crash in Springs nearly 20 years ago—he was accused of letting his friend burn to death in a car he crashed while driving drunk—was arraigned in Suffolk County 1st District Court in Central Islip on Thursday morning, March 1.

Wilson Pantosin, 44, stood in handcuffs and pleaded not guilty before Acting Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho after being extradited from Harris County, Texas, where he was recently discovered. He was escorted back to Suffolk County on Wednesday, February 28.

“Justice will not expire in the Suffolk County district attorney’s office and the Suffolk County Police Department. We do everything in our power to bring fugitives to justice and hold them accountable for their crimes,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said on Thursday.

According to the district attorney’s office, Mr. Pantosin was driving while intoxicated on January 28, 1999, after drinking four Budweiser beers with his friend, 25-year-old Wilson Illaisaca, on Hog Creek Road.

Mr. Pantosin crossed over the oncoming traffic lane and struck a utility pole wire and a tree before his car overturned and caught fire, authorities said. He exited the car and then told witnesses and East Hampton Town Police that he was alone in the car.

Law enforcement and fire personnel discovered Mr. Illaisaca’s charred remains in the passenger seat of the vehicle after extinguishing the fire.

“This individual crashed his car because he was drunk,” Mr. Sini said following the arraignment on Thursday. “He then lied to authorities when they responded to the scene—and while he was lying to authorities, his friend sat in that car burning to death.”

Mr. Pantosin was arrested and charged at the time with two counts of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree and one count of manslaughter in the second degree, both felonies, along with two counts of misdemeanor DWI.

According to Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bopp, who represented the district attorney’s office in court, Mr. Pantosin posted $1,000 bail after his arraignment in East Hampton Town Justice Court on February 22, 1999. Despite being ordered to return to court the following month, Mr. Pantosin fled the country to Ecuador, prosecutors said.

A warrant was issued for Mr. Pantosin’s arrest that March, and he was later indicted on the charges in 2003 while police were still trying to locate him.

According to Sheila Kelly, communications director for the district attorney’s office, Mr. Pantosin had to be indicted on his charges before 2004 to keep the case active, due to a five-year statute of limitations on felonies in the state.

Mr. Sini did not say where Mr. Pantosin was living between fleeing to Ecuador and his arrest in Harris County. He did say that Harris County law enforcement was alerted to Mr. Pantosin’s presence in the area, though he would not say whether Mr. Pantosin committed a crime or was arrested in Harris County.

Suffolk County Police were notified, Mr. Sini said, and asked Harris County law enforcement to detain Mr. Pantosin.

“The defendant has shown that bail is not an option,” Ms. Bopp said in court before requesting Mr. Pantosin be remanded to Suffolk County Jail without bail.

Justice Camacho agreed that Mr. Pantosin would be remanded until his next court date on March 27.

Christopher Gioe of Hauppauge, Mr. Pantosin’s court-appointed defense attorney, requested a jury trial and said that there may be some “legal impediments” to be evaluated due to how old the case is. After the arraignment, Mr. Gioe said that he only briefly met with his client after being assigned the case on Thursday.

“We’re hoping that the district attorney’s office does a thorough and competent investigation regarding this,” Mr. Gioe said after the arraignment. “My client is maintaining his innocence and he’s looking forward to challenging these charges. These are very, very serious charges and they need to be investigated thoroughly. More work needs to be done.”

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Nice work by the Harris County TX and Suffolk County authorities, who can also hopefully bring back the alleged driver who hit Sister Jackie Walsh in Water Mill, on July 12, 2012, and then escaped to South America. If THAT alleged driver was not the actual driver -- opinions vary on this -- then all investigative materials should be made public by the SHT PD, so that the REAL actual driver can be brought to justice.

There is NO legitimate reason to keep those investigative materials private ...more
By PBR (4900), Southampton on Mar 1, 18 4:43 PM
3 members liked this comment
A foreign national with three counts of manslaughter and some brain dead judge thought $1000 bail was sufficient?
Anybody know who the judge was?
By bird (772), Sag Harbor on Mar 3, 18 8:28 AM