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Mar 17, 2017 2:52 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

UPDATE: Steve Lee’s Attorneys Prepare To Present Case On Tuesday

Steven Lee, right, with his attorney James O'Shea in Riverhead court on Thursday.  GREG WEHNER
Mar 21, 2017 10:51 AM

UPDATE: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

The prosecution rested on Monday afternoon, turning things over to defense attorneys James O’Shea and Patrick O’Connell, who will begin presenting Steven Lee’s case on Tuesday.

Before coming to rest, Mr. Cortes called Eric Schultzel to the stand, who was a golf instructor at Poxabogue Golf Center in Sagaponack.

Mr. Schultzel testified and told the jury that Mr. Lee showed him a zoomed in version of the picture on July 25, 2015. Mr. Schultzel said the picture was zoomed in so much that he could not make out anything other than the fact that the photo was a woman’s crotch.

Mr. Cortes asked Mr. Schultzel if he could remember what Mr. Lee said when he was shown the picture, but he could not remember anything other than “it was just mainly a giggle.”

At first, Mr. Schultzel said, he did not think much of the picture, until he went to work the next day and a co-worker asked him if he was shown the picture, and was told the picture was of a minor.

“I was a little appalled—confuse,” Mr. Schultzel said on Monday.

He contacted Southampton Town Management Services Administrator Russell Kratoville on July 30, 2015 because he thought that was Mr. Lee’s boss. Mr. Schultzel said he did not report the incident to Town Police until he got an email from Mr. Kratoville telling him to report it to police over a month later.

On September 9, Mr. Schultzel said, he received an email from Mr. Kratoville to provide a summary of the incident, or an affidavit, and to email it to him. Mr. Schultzel said Mr. Kratoville was going to speak with the Chief of Police, who will then assign an investigator. After getting some help writing the affidavit from Harry Hurt, a freelance writer, Mr. Schultzel sent the two-page letter to Mr. Kratoville on September 14, and on October 9, he gave a verbal statement to Town Police Officer Michael Poos.

The case is expected to continue on Tuesday at 11 a.m., when the defense attorneys will present their case. Both sides are expected to give their summations in the afternoon.

Judge Toomey told jurors that he plans to give them the case on Wednesday morning, and expects a decision by the afternoon.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Attorneys for the former manager of the Poxabogue Golf Center in Sagaponack who was arrested in July 2015 after being accused of snapping an inappropriate photo of a 16-year-old girl from behind what has been described as a “one-way window” said their client does not think he did anything wrong.

“Something stupid, yes—something wrong, no,” said James O’Shea, an attorney with Southampton-based O'Shea Marcincuk & Bruyn LLP.

The trial of Steven Lee, 47, of Ronkonkoma, began on Thursday before Suffolk County Court Judge John J. Toomey Jr. and a full 14-member jury at the court complex in Riverside.

Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney John Cortes described the case as being about an adult male who invaded the privacy of a child by taking a photograph under her clothes.

“[Mr. Lee] took the photo through the comfort of his office window as she sat on a bench waiting for her parents, who were golfing that day,” Mr. Cortes told jury members, noting that she will take the stand during the trial. “[He] made the choice to take advantage of the girl without her even knowing.”

Mr. Cortes said the picture was taken with an Apple iPhone, where it was stored for nearly three months and shared with some of Mr. Lee’s employees. Mr. Cortes said the photo shows the “female genitalia” covered by her underwear and shorts.

In his opening statements, Mr. O’Shea compared Mr. Lee’s actions to taking a photo of teenage boys who wear their jeans below their waist, exposing their underwear. Both, according to the law, would be considered felony charges, according to Mr. O’Shea.

John Haining, who worked as an assistant golf professional at Poxabogue Golf Course, said when he walked into Mr. Lee’s office the day the photo was taken, Mr. Lee was in his chair looking at his phone. Mr. Haining said Mr. Lee looked at him and said, “Look what I saw,” and he showed him a photo of what appeared to be a young girl with her legs spread and her underwear showing. He also said Mr. Lee was laughing about the photo.

Mr. Haining said after he was shown the photo, he suggested that Mr. Lee delete the photo. Mr. Lee minimized the screen, and Mr. Haining said he saw the photo was in a text message with a caption that said, “a view from my office.”

Mr. Lee also showed the photo to Howard Matheson, who was employed at the golf center to do a variety of jobs, according to Mr. Matheson.

“He stuck it in my face,” Mr. Matheson said on Thursday. “It was a little disturbing to me because I’m a dad.”

Mr. Matheson said Mr. Lee was acting like a big shot that day, and said, “This might make my wife horny when I get home.”

Mr. Matheson said when he got home that day, he spoke to his family about what had happened. A few days later, Mr. Matheson said, he placed a call to then-Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, to notify her of what the manager of the Town-owned golf course was doing. Though he did not speak with the supervisor, he briefly spoke with her secretary, but would not go into details with her.

On September 3, Mr. Matheson gave a sworn statement to the Southampton Town Police, which eventually lead to Town Police Sergeant William Kiernan contacting Mr. Lee.

According to Sgt. Kiernan, who took the stand on Thursday, Mr. Lee was willing to come to police headquarters for questioning, although he was not told why, Sgt. Kiernan said he told Mr. Lee that a couple of coworkers mentioned he had an inappropriate photo on his phone, and that Mr. Lee willingly handed over the phone.

With Mr. Lee, Sgt. Kiernan and another officer looked through the phone, and came across the photo. Sgt. Kiernan said he asked Mr. Lee if that was the photo, and Mr. Lee said, “I don’t know, that was a joke.”

Sgt. Kiernan said that’s when he read Mr. Lee his Miranda rights.

Sgt. Kiernan then took Mr. Lee’s phone to another room, where he took pictures of the phone with the photo, and processed the phone into property.

Mr. O’Shea asked if a search warrant was obtained before searching the phone, and Mr. Kiernan said it was not for that search, but a search warrant was obtained for a comprehensive search of the phone.

“[Mr. Lee] was very surprised that that photo was something he could get in trouble for,” Sgt. Kiernan said.

In Mr. Lee’s statement to the police, he said, “I took a picture kidding around … she wasn’t naked … I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Mr. Lee is facing a charge of second-degree unlawful surveillance, a felony. Earlier this week, Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, said if Mr. Lee is found guilty, he faces anything from no jail time, to probation, up to a maximum indeterminate sentence of between 1 1/3-to-4 years of incarceration.

The trial is expected to continue at about 11:15 a.m. on Monday.

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Taking the picture of a 16 year old was wrong...bragging about it was stupid!
By Toma Noku (512), Southampton on Mar 17, 17 3:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
I don't necessarily like the saying but I think "What if it was your daughter applies here". Most of us probably wouldn't be too thrilled.
By lirider (148), Hampton Bays on Mar 17, 17 4:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
I think Jim needs to drop a few pounds.
By tenn tom (147), remsenburg on Mar 18, 17 10:07 AM
So being a degenerate pervert is stupid but not wrong...OK
By Sturgis (139), Southampton on Mar 18, 17 5:09 PM
dirtbag
By xtiego (568), bridgehampton on Mar 18, 17 6:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
This case appears to be a misapplication of the "upskirting" law. This young lady was seated on a bench open to public view with her legs apart and her underwear/crotch exposed. There is no evidence the defendant used a recording device to view what he would be otherwise unable to see (i.e. using a camera hidden in a shopping bag a placed between a woman's legs to see up her skirt). Read the law: NY Penal Law Section 250.45

Creepy behavior by the defendant? Yes. Crime? No.
By HB90 (118), southampton on Mar 21, 17 11:54 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By SlimeAlive (409), Southampton on Mar 22, 17 5:06 AM
I guess you missed the iphone part of the story ...
By AndersEn (135), Southampton on Mar 22, 17 8:49 AM
... also the glass separating the two was a two way mirror . Given the lighting she could not see in , but he could see out of very well .
By AndersEn (135), Southampton on Mar 22, 17 2:53 PM
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