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Jun 9, 2010 11:18 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town code enforcement slaps landlord with 50 violations at six houses

Jun 9, 2010 11:18 AM

Southampton Town code enforcement officials this week charged a Southampton man with 50 misdemeanor code violations at six houses that he owns in Tuckahoe and North Sea after an investigation revealed that they were being illegally rented, sometimes to more than a dozen people on a short-term basis.

Southampton Town Chief Investigator David Betts said John Distefano was issued court appearance tickets for the charges after investigators visited the six properties—on North Magee Street, Sherwood Road and Fords Lane—over the last two weeks and found numerous violations of the town’s rental law, as well as fire, safety and building code violations.

At least five of the houses have never been issued certificates of occupancy or had undergone major renovations to divide them into multiple rental units, in violation of their certificates, according to the town.

The numerous other violations that Mr. Distefano was charged with include renting without a permit, transient renting, and building without a permit. Some of his houses had swimming pools, hot tubs, and volleyball and basketball courts added without the required building permits. Other houses had been converted from single-family to multi-family homes or had apartments added above a garage illegally. There were also charges for having an excessive number of vehicles parked at a property—town code allows only four per house—and for overflowing Dumpsters.

Mr. Betts said code enforcement investigators had visited each of the houses in recent weeks and interviewed the occupants—which he estimated at 10 to 15 people per home in some cases. He said most admitted to being renters and stated that Mr. Distefano was not living in any of them.

Mr. Distefano faces criminal punishment for the violations, including possible jail time, according to town officials. He is due to appear in Southampton Town Justice Court later this month.

Mr. Distefano could not be immediately reached for comment.

Mr. Betts said the codes that were violated are intended to protect the health and safety of people within the houses, as well as quality of life issues for neighbors.

“If you put 25 people in a four-bedroom house, people are sleeping where they’re not supposed to be sleeping—rooms without CO2 detectors or smoke detectors,” Mr. Betts said. “You can’t overcrowd a house and be safe.”

The investigation was spurred by complaints about illegal rentals at two of the houses, which led the town to investigate the other houses also owned by Mr. Distefano, Mr. Betts explained.

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Keep at it Mr. Betts, there are plenty more.
By diogenes (57), westhampton on Jun 3, 10 4:02 PM
2 members liked this comment
It's about time they slapped that slumlord, let's see how he slithers out of this!
By 75Shovel (15), Southampton on Jun 3, 10 5:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
I thought that was called affordable housing. Not.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on Jun 3, 10 6:14 PM
Is this the same distefano that runs "Best Modular Homes" in Southampton? If so, maybe Southampton Town Board, Code Enforcement, and Building Department should put sanctions and restrictions in place for individuals like this that do business within Southampton Town. This is a type of habitual violator that needs a rude awaking, 1) for abusing, treating, and praying on people inhumanely. 2) decaying the quality of life for the residents surrounding his rentals. Shame on you Johnny!!
By nazz (22), Flanders on Jun 3, 10 6:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, it is.

It would seem avarice knows no limit, even when it comes to the "locals"...
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on Jun 5, 10 9:25 AM
More information, please. Is this a case of a landlord renting to "young people" at high rates or renting to "[insert acceptable euphemism]" who, but for lower rental rates, would be on the street?
By highhatsize (3797), East Quogue on Jun 3, 10 6:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you Mr. Betts.
By double standard (1506), quogue on Jun 3, 10 7:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is the tip of the iceberg! Keep at it!
By GoldenBoy (333), EastEnd on Jun 3, 10 7:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
highhat, try reading the story again. This guy is a low life. No one would be "on the street" but for his generosity... as you try to imply. He is soaking these people and we are paying for his profits. Multi rental units within a house that doesnt even have a CO for SFO.
Perhaps the town should ask him to build in East Quogue, see how YOU like that!!
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jun 3, 10 8:27 PM
2 members liked this comment
A slum lord is a slum lord ,good guy or not ,he is breaking the law.
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on Jun 3, 10 10:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
50 violations on his rentals but on the houses he builds- all perfect with no "violations" no way.
By tuckahoetrip (46), Water Mill on Jun 3, 10 11:17 PM
I believe you. If the Southampton town building dept does not want you to have a permit, for anything, even if your complaint, they will take your apps, take your money and later send a letter saying sorry, but... God Bless this man.
By mystcstar (51), Quogue on Jun 4, 10 11:25 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By fazool (22), Southampton on Jun 4, 10 2:36 AM
2 members liked this comment
Qualitive is not a word, fazool
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Jun 4, 10 9:09 AM
Qualitative is. Me, I got the picture.
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on Jun 5, 10 9:27 AM
Qualitied is a word that he may have meant as well, Mr Z. But it has a different meaning, now doesn't it? Stop trying to be smug.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Jun 6, 10 1:23 AM
Not meant to be smug, sorry if I came off that way.

Kinda' moot, 'cause no one will know what we're talking about any longer...
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on Jun 16, 10 7:14 AM
I got to know john through mutal friends. At the time myself my wife my two children and my handicaped mother were living in a home in Shirley. When I learned I was being deployed again to afganistan I was beside myself. we had problems at the home which was not in a good area. John came up at met us. He brought us to one of his houses and we looked at it in awe. It was beautiful. The military pays for only partial houseing and we could not afford much else. He gave us a home that he could have ...more
By sarge (1), dayton on Jun 4, 10 8:58 AM
2 members liked this comment
mutual friends or family, is your wife related to his?
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jun 4, 10 10:39 AM
Ed, Thank you for serving our country. God Bless!!
By mystcstar (51), Quogue on Jun 4, 10 11:28 AM
Mr. Distefano's "political-protection" has finally (and thankfully) been pierced!

It's been a LONG time coming.
By elliot (243), sag harbor on Jun 4, 10 9:58 AM
John is well known in Southampton which is a true fact. But you really need to look outside the box and put your friendship aside on this one. When you get 50 violations on your rentals, that is serious!! Some comments are saying how nice John is. How nice can he be when he is putting people's lives at risk for his benefit only!! People wouldn't bash John on the internet if he would just play the rules. Rules are to be broken but geez 50 violations!!
By whatsup1963 (3), Southampton on Jun 4, 10 10:29 AM
50 SOUNDS LIKE ALOT BUT IF YOU LOK AT ALL THE TOWN CODE IM SURPRISED THAT YOU DONT NEED A PERMIT TO BREATH MOST OF THOSE VIOLATIONS ARE JUST BUNK SO CODE ENF CAN MET THER QUOTA AND NOW THEY CAN SIT ON THER BACKSIDE FOR THE REST OF THE MONTH
By ESPARKY35 (3), EAST HAMPTON on Jun 4, 10 8:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe code enforcement could venture west over the canal someday, we could use a hand there as well.
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on Jun 4, 10 10:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
Be careful what you say here folks or you might find yourself in a brand new pair of cement shoes!
By WHBinManhattan (47), Manhattan/Westhampton on Jun 4, 10 10:34 AM
Is that a veiled threat?
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jun 4, 10 10:38 AM
To Southampton620: So, if I am to understand you correctly, you'd like the law abiding community and the Town Inspector to "look the other way" while Mr. DeStefano does whatever he wants to make money including the illegal construction of an apartment above a garage, in a basement or wherever he wants...because John's a "good guy with a good heart"? Did this "good guy" at least install smoke detectors or how about a CO2 device, or is the death of a person from fire or exphixiation acceptable if ...more
By Dodger (156), Southampton Village on Jun 4, 10 10:56 AM
i have known john for a few years and have visited one of his houses a few times, he has smoke detectors an CO2 detectors, he is not that much of an idiot. and he does not dangerously house people, he helps people out. half of those charges he received were stupid and pointless. and he is not arrogant and or like martha stewart, have you ever thought that the economy may be affecting him and his family also? maybe you are the arrogant one.
By Southampton810 (10), Southampton on Jun 4, 10 11:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
A few years ago I built a home in Southampton. The process was a nightmare from begining to end. Seems the building inspector's offices hated the GC, so they made me pay....and pay....and pay.....the CO was delayed near 6 months, fined $500 for a technical violation caused by the slope of the lans AS THE FIX WAS TAKING PLANE RIGHT IN FRONT of the inspector. The judge was soooooo sympathetic she opined that I should have had the builder work a little faster! All in all rhe delays piecemeal inspections ...more
By Lost Tribe (66), East Hampton on Jun 4, 10 11:24 AM
2 members liked this comment
Lost,

My dear, you well said.
By mystcstar (51), Quogue on Jun 4, 10 11:36 AM
Must be nice to be able to afford that.
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on Jun 5, 10 9:29 AM
To Lost Tribe: I think you need a new GC...that's what I think. I've done numerous complicated restorations over the years without a single hitch because my GC knows what he is doing and does it right the first time. If he didn't, I wouldn't have hired him the second time. In fact, I had a GC on a job I did in Southampton Village. He had to come back time and again to correct mistakes. I noticed that he became more and more aggitated each time he returned. Guess what? I never used him again. ...more
By Dodger (156), Southampton Village on Jun 4, 10 11:32 AM
"Thank-You to code enforcement and the police departments." I know from experience how grateful the community is for your hard work. The illegal housing in these areas has had a great impact on the community on so many levels both personal and public to the citizens of those areas.

By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Jun 4, 10 12:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
If you don't want to deal with adhering to the code in Southampton Town don't build here! I'm not justifying the Building Department's ways by any means, having my own unjustified hassels with them. However, you don't build pools without permits! You don't ignore Cof O requirements. Period. His humanitariasm is great but is no justification for the nature of many of the violations. There are so many people in Southampton Town who think the regulations and law don't apply to them. And who suffers? ...more
By sirpoochala (78), Hampton Bays on Jun 4, 10 1:02 PM
I can say for certain that some of the homes have been rented out as summer rentals. The homes off of North Magee Street with the pool, tennis court, basketball, hot tub and many bedrooms have attracted "House Managers" who advertise on the internet and rent out beds by the weekend. That is where they gravy money is for the home owner and house managers. Perhaps renting out rooms to those in need during the winter months is meant as a kind gesture.....but the bottom line is these homes are profit ...more
By SLCSouth (9), Southampton on Jun 4, 10 2:40 PM
I used to own a few rental houses, a couple out here. I had leases & inspected the properties randomly & frequently. When I started a rental, I went to my neigbors & gave them my name & number & told them to call me if there were ANY problems. I had one problem - a tenant decided to let his "family" join him (about 7 others with their own cars, in a 2 bedroom house). They were immediately evicted. There were no dumpsters, any work done was with permits, and I personally installed smoke & carbon ...more
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Jun 4, 10 2:49 PM
AND THEY LEFT JUST LIKE THAT MAYBE OVER TO JOHNS
By ESPARKY35 (3), EAST HAMPTON on Jun 4, 10 8:14 PM
When is East Hampton code enforcement going to start doing somethng about all the illegal houses in Springs? They are ALL OVER THE PLACE and right in plain view with over 4 cars in the driveway, people in and out at all hours, bicycles - obviously more than the number allowed. Closing your eyes doesn't mean they don't exist.
By utahgirl1970 (8), East Hampton on Jun 4, 10 3:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
ITS ALWAYS EASY FOR OTHER PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOTHING TO PASS JUDGEMENT ON OTHERS WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH SIX HOUSE YOU WOULD PROBELY DO THE SAME YOU CANT BLAME JOHN TOTALY YOU CAN BLAME ALL THE REAL ESTATE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MADE IT OUT OF REACH FOR ANY AVERAGE PERSON TO BUY OR RENT A HOUSE OUT HEREYOU SHOULD ASK THE PEOPLE WHO ARE LIVING IN THE HOUSE HOW THET FEEL THEY PROBELY ARE HAPPY TO HAVE A ROOF OVER THERE HEADS MAYBE CODE ENFOREMENT SHOULD GO AFTER HOUSES OWNED BY NON CITIZENS WHO ARE THE WORST ...more
By ESPARKY35 (3), EAST HAMPTON on Jun 4, 10 8:10 PM
AND, I'd like to add that for each one of those six houses he has, which he does with as he pleases, is one less shot for a local born youth to have the "American Dream". Because of his corrupted, depraved view of capitalism, those are six LESS oppurtunities for someone like you to have something decent for yourself.
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on Jun 5, 10 9:32 AM
Thank you Code Enforcement!!! I'm sorry but the man is running a business by breaking the rules and disrupting neighborhoods. Until any one of you "supporters" has to live next door, across the street, down the road, or around the corner from one of these overfilled houses you have no right to object. North Sea is packed with these situations and I'm glad to see the Town has been taking enforcement seriously. They are chippping away at it and it is helping.

Maybe Mr. Distefano can use whatever ...more
By East End 2 (135), Southampton on Jun 4, 10 9:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By SusieD (111), Southampton on Jun 5, 10 7:00 AM
Ms 20, it is distefanos right to break the law. But when he is caught red handed, the information becomes public. The person showing the most disdain for the distefano family is john distefano. You see shame is part of what us law abiding citizens work to avoid. Since I don't want my family and children embarassed by my actions and because I prefer to stay out of the press, I operate in an ethical and legal way. You can't control what folks are saying about your family. You are not the victim here. ...more
By tuckahoetrip (46), Water Mill on Jun 5, 10 7:24 AM
Over crowded housing only serves the person collecting the rent. If the places caught fire and you had to remove 20 charred bodies how would you feel about it? Its completely unsafe and also destorys the neighboring properties quiet use and enjoyment of their homes, with increased traffic, garabage and the late night cell phone conversatiions. Live next to one and see if your opinion changes. Way to go Code, there are others in North Sea, and they are not hard to find. Whoever owns and operates ...more
By North Sea Citizen (508), North Sea on Jun 5, 10 7:49 AM
Can't argue there...
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on Jun 5, 10 9:33 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Allforreal2010, Southampton on Jun 5, 10 11:29 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By johnnyhampton (78), Southampton on Jun 6, 10 8:00 AM
I have never seen so many "DELETED" comments on a 27 East forum before!
Many of those comments were posted for quite some time and, they seemed to me, to be honest opinions with no expletives or duplicate postings.

Could it be that there is some outside influence going on here regarding censorship of opinions.??

This is a valid question. I would appreciate it being posted.
By elliot (243), sag harbor on Jun 6, 10 10:29 AM
This is not censorship. You can see that most are from "Southampton620" a young women who chose to defend Distefano with foul language and insults to anyone who disagreed.
By kelly (75), hampton bays on Jun 6, 10 1:16 PM
Ah, Ha. I see.
Also I think these are her very first comments on 27 east. No?
By elliot (243), sag harbor on Jun 6, 10 1:34 PM
Seems to be. She obviously had an agenda. Claimed to be a JR in High School and a friend of DiStefano....sounded like she needed a lesson in ethics.
By kelly (75), hampton bays on Jun 6, 10 6:00 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By johnnyhampton (78), Southampton on Jun 6, 10 10:30 PM
Maybe all these folks who seem to be just jumping on the ' trash ' John bandwagon should actually get their facts correct and consider the source of all these allegations.Having known John for many years and having seen first hand the generosity he has shown so many I can"t believe most of thes vitriolic comments are the result of first hand knoledge.I have been in and worked on many of these so called substandard houses and can tell you that they are on a par with any low to middle income homes ...more
By WHALE56 (13), Southampton on Jun 7, 10 9:35 AM
Whale,
I ran out of fingers trying to count the number of words you can't spell correctly. Did somehow John get elected "Affordable, but crappy, Housing Chief"?
Facts appear to be that what he is renting out is substandard and without permits.
How do you justify what this guy does as bering different from the absentee landlords ( that apparently pay you) that you speak so lowly of?
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jun 7, 10 10:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
"Consider the source". Southampton Town Code Enforcement, and therefore the Law Department is a pretty credible source.

The county sets rates for affordable housing - not the Town. Get your facts straight before pointing fingers.

The town won't issue a C/O on a house that either isn't in compliance (even with something as "small" as a wetland violation) or if there has never been a permit issued, because the property owner didn't submit the paper work. I know firsthand these ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jun 8, 10 9:18 PM
Whale - If the Town is not issuing a CO, there's a serious problem. Are you saying people should live in these types of houses? Wake up - it's for YOUR own protection that houses be built to code. But you are right about one thing - there really is no "affordable housing" out here. But that doesn't mean folks should start renting out their storage sheds to make up for it.
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Jun 7, 10 11:40 AM
They should run this guy out of town
By john o (34), southampton on Jun 7, 10 12:39 PM
Why do they keep deleting my comments?? I was just telling the general public about my encounters with him! Just wanted everyone to know what kind of human being he is!!!! I have never seen so many comments on a single story. And the story was posted on the 7th!! He finally met his match!!
By johnnyhampton (78), Southampton on Jun 7, 10 10:30 PM
52 comments!! there wasn't this many on the 711 DWI crash last year. YIKES!
By SHlocal12 (16), Southampton on Jun 7, 10 11:27 PM
being is not spelled with an 'r'
By WHALE56 (13), Southampton on Jun 8, 10 10:47 AM
foxxy?
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Jun 8, 10 7:39 PM
56 comments If anyone remembers ab56 Good times
By richgetricher (9), northsea on Jun 8, 10 9:53 PM
Can we get this guy to work in East Hampton town?
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Jun 9, 10 11:24 AM
Wow, amazing.. So you mean to tell me that the Town Board actually busts people guilty of actual crimes, too?! Fantastic..... I figured they simply kept their boats afloat by belittling those attempting to build their first and, final homes, here on the East End. Oh wait, sorry, I forgot, this was the work of the Code Enforcement officers...
By The Royal 'We' (189), Southampton on Jun 9, 10 3:45 PM
Sounds like there was good cause: " ... renting without a permit, transient renting, and building without a permit. Some of his houses had swimming pools, hot tubs, and volleyball and basketball courts added without the required building permits. Other houses had been converted from single-family to multi-family homes or had apartments added above a garage illegally. There were also charges for having an excessive number of vehicles parked at a property—town code allows only four per house—and for ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Jun 9, 10 7:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
Anybody else on here have any good stories about Mr. John??
By johnnyhampton (78), Southampton on Jun 9, 10 9:03 PM
What happened to all the people living in these houses? Did Code Enforcement just leave them there as has happened in the past? While I applaude the work of Mr Betts I am afraid that Mr Distifano will just go to court with the locally connected lawyer and get a slap on the wrist and when all is said and done, lots will be said and nothing will be done.
By bird (736), Southampton on Jun 11, 10 1:13 PM
I don't know about "vitriolic", but many years ago when he was to develop the lot next to my family home, we pleaded repeatedly for him to NOT develop the land, and allow us to purchase it instead.

His agenda was for his "client", and he to simply turn a profit, as niether of them are even involved with the house any longer. Developed, sold off, and "flipped" for a profit to line their already well lined pockets.

I used to have a beautiful sunrise through the master bedroom window, ...more
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on Jun 11, 10 11:51 PM
wonder if he had a permit for all the tickets he got. hey look I'm not saying he's right or anything but this is pretty clear that he pissed off someone on the town board, there are lots of bigger fish to fry then him and some sit at offices at town hall and they never get in trouble. in my opinion he gets what he deserves but I wouldn't mind seeing equality in the handling of the laws on the east end as well as what is put in the press. Nothing that comes out of town hall should be taken on its ...more
By typical (63), southampton on Jun 12, 10 3:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, Let's fry some Blowesfish!!!!
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jun 13, 10 8:19 AM
........
By my 2 cents (3), southampton on Aug 24, 12 8:55 AM
page, restaurant, christmas, open