Party Houses: Underage Drinkers, No Permits, Overcrowding and Big Business

On June 8, an Amagansett woman named Lucy Sachs was awakened at 5:00 in the morning by a caller who said the 14-bedroom mansion, which her wealthy great-grandfather had built for his family near the beach over 100 years ago, was being invaded by what appeared to be busloads of teenagers. They were, among other things, unloading one of those big disco balls you see at giant clubs in the city. He wanted her to know.

Lucy Sachs, who told me of this experience, also said she is in charge of this house on behalf of her extended family who make use of it from time to time, and so she raced down there. There were approximately 98 of them, and the teenagers told her they had contracted with some firm to have a three day party there. They came equipped with suitcases, air mattresses and other things.

At this point, Sachs thought she knew what was wrong. A month earlier, she told me, she had leased out the house from May 29 to June 26 to a nice young man named Lee Hnetinka who told her he was going to have a family reunion there. The rent asked for and agreed to was $30,000 for about a month, and it would go toward maintenance of the mansion. A lease was signed. This had to be something the tenant was doing.

Sachs kicked everybody out. The group turned out to be part of the graduating senior class of Herricks High School up the island. She mobilized other members of the family to help get the teenagers back home via taxi, parents coming out, train or other means. The money? Unclear how that would turn out.

In the course of this, bursting in on this scene that morning as she did, Sachs told me it seemed she had inadvertently breached the defenses of a well organized group of black shirted guards who were there to keep order. They told her to leave. She told them she owned the house and everybody else had to leave. She won the argument.

Lucy Sachs also figured out from what the teenagers told her, which was that they had paid over $300 each for the three days, that the total paid equaled the entire amount of the monthly rent. So if he had more three days parties like this during the month it would be at a profit. This was a business.

At some point, Sachs saw that one of the guards had some sort of manual he was referring to. He seemed sympathetic toward her at this point, she said, and he held it out to her and told her to take it. She did. We present excerpts from it here. It is an extraordinary document, apparently an instruction manual on how to maintain the house. What she found at the end of it was a list of eight houses that were apparently being used for similar purposes. Each had variations on the instructions unique to that house. Considering all the houses, this seemed to be an operation that could turn a pretty hefty profit for the month. Sachs told me that she gave these addresses to her sister Joanie in the real estate business, who, using them, got the names of the owners of them and called them to tell them what was going on in their homes.

Whether Hnetinka did provide these services or if it is legal to have a graduation party in a private home I don’t know. But certainly people—the authorities, neighbors, others—could have an opinion about it. Some might say, well this is America, America is about business and this is a good thing. It created jobs. Hooray for the guy who thought this up. The kids have their party. The property is kept neat and clean. Nobody is bothered next door and yes some money was made.

If it is the case that kids were permitted to drink alcohol, as they apparently were, as per the document, others might be of the persuasion that this is not good for the community, because the teenagers are underage and surely this is not what our great mansions are intended for.

Lucy Sachs gave me a copy of what she referred to as the guards’ manual. She also had given it to the authorities and to others, she said. Also in the document, toward the end, are phone numbers for the security guards to call in case of emergency, the authorities show up or there is trouble.

I called one of the numbers and the man that answered identified himself as Lee Hnetinka. I asked him if he would talk to me about this situation but would understand if he didn’t want to, and he said he really didn’t want to and so that was that.

The entire document runs to nearly 4,000 words. The first thing you notice is that there are many typos and grammatical errors in it. It certainly isn’t well written. Among other things, it seems oddly and incredibly strict—every move of the potential partyers and security guards seems to be regulated. It seems to this reader to be an attempt to legitimize an underage drinking party and protect a house that is not being used for its stated purpose. For example, each person is asked to tell a guard on arrival about any knives, guns, hard alcohol and mikes, beer, drugs and prescription drugs. Then, as detailed in the document:

if YOU have any of this YOU NEED TO SHOW US this way we know what they have. WE WANT TO SEE ALL OF IT AND WILL GIVE IT BACK ONCE WE HAVE AN IDEA OF EVERYTHING… 

HERE’S WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH EVERYTHING … The prescription drugs will be given back should the person need them and they have a prescription. 

The hard alcohol will be given back once we feel they have earned it and you see they are a young adult and can handle it. This may be 5 minutes or 5 hours it depends on if you guys lie to us. If you show us what you have and we can trust you and no one lies then we will be more likely to give it back. IF YOU LIE TO US AND WE FIND OUT THEN WERE GOING TO TAKE IT ALL AWAY. 

 

Step 3: Put everything in the assigned locked room for that house and under your digression give back only the hard alcohol. Only give back hard alcohol that is clear … do not give back any rum, gin or tequila …. I DO NOT ALLOW THOSE! 

 

Obviously do not give back drugs, knives or guns. Prescription drugs give back if they are that persons and they need it.

 

* * *

How does a guard know what’s prescription and what is not? What if a teenager has drugs he or she says are prescription but which are not in a pharmacy bottle? Are we really trusting teenagers to turn over everything that they have brought? What does “feel they have earned it” mean? Is preference given to clear liquids so that if they spill, it won’t leave an obvious stain?

At the beginning of the document is an explanation of how to handle the arrival of the busses bringing the kids. The busses must remain on the street with their engines off, and only one allowed at a time to disembark passengers quietly and orderly. Only when the first bus leaves is the second bus to go up and we pick it up from there.

Here are other excerpts from the document:

 

* * *

 

Step 3: 

ONCE EVERYTHING ABOVE IS TAKEN CARE OF… have the “orientation talk” with them. 

 

ORIENTATION TALK: 

 

READ THIS: 

 

THIS WELCOME TALK IS TO BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE PROPERTY, NEIGHBORS REQUESTS AND TO REINFORCE THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPLYING WITH THE RULES. 

 

WHILE YOURE HERE ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS GET 4 THINGS RIGHT AND YOU WILL GET YOUNG ADULT PRIVILEGES. 

 

 respect the house

– respect each other

– Respect the security guard

– AND FOLLOW THE RULES

 

IF YOU ACT LIKE YOUNG ADULTS THEN YOU WILL BE TREATED LIKE ONE, IF YOU ACT LIKE ANIMALS THEN YOU WILL BE CAGED LIKE THEM. 

 

WE WORK ON A VERY EASY PRIVILEGE SYSTEM, YOU PAID TO RENT THE HOUSE. YOU MAY USE THE AMENITIES HERE AND EVERY THAT YOU PAID FOR. WHAT YOU DIDN’T PAY FOR WAS TO DRINK. DRINKING IS A PRIVILEGE. YOU MUST EARN IT AND YOU’LL EARN BY FOLLOWING THOSE 3 THINGS. SHOULD YOU NOT FOLLOW THOSE 3 THINGS AND OUR RULES YOU LOSE THE PRIVELEGES. IT’S THAT SIMPLE. THIS A 1 FOR ALL, ALL FOR 1 OPERATION SO IF 1 PERSON WANTS TO SCREW IT UP FOR EVERYONE, EVERYONE ELSE WILL SUFFER. SO IF YOU SEE SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS DOING SOMETHING THEY SHOULDN’T BE ITS IN YOUR BENEFIT TO TELL THEM TO STOP. DO NOT BE THE JERK WHERE THE SECURITY GUARD KNOWS YOU ON A FIRST NAME BASIS. PRIVILEGES THAT CAN BE TAKEN AWAY YOU SHOULD NOT BE DOING THE 4 THINGS. 

BEER

HARD LIQUOR 

HOTTUB AFTER 8PM 

SMOKING OUTSIDE AFTER 8PM

 

THE RULES – THEY ARE SO SIMPLE AND ARE TO ENSURE YOUR SAFTEY. 

 

1. The Property will be in broom-clean condition at the start of your use. You will keep the Property in a neat and clean condition throughout your stay, and leave the Property in the same condition as it was upon your arrival. Remember, this is a “real” home – not a frat-house – and must be treated as such. 

2. DO NOT STACK BEER IN THE FRIDGE – THE SHELVES WILL BREAK. ONLY PLACE A CERTAIN AMOUNT IN IT AT A TIME. DO NOT BRING ANY COOLERS INSIDE. ALL COOLERS MUST BE KEPT OUTSIDE ON THE PATIO. 

3. DO NOT BRING ANY FOOD OR DRINK OUTSIDE OF THE KITCHEN OR INTO YOUR BEDROOMS. 

4. WHEN THERE IS GARBAGE TIE IT UP AND THROW IT OUT. DO NOT LET THE GARBAGE ACCUMULATE BECAUSE THEN BUGS AND FLIES WILL COME. WHEN YOU SEE A GARBAGE BAG IS FULL TIE IT UP AND THROW IT IN THE DESIGNATED GARBAGE AREA OUTSIDE. YOU SHOULD PLACE GARBAGE BAGS AND CANS ALL OVER THE HOUSE TO KEEP UP WITH THIS. 

5. NOT ALLOWED TO USE CLEANING CHEMICALS WHEN CLEANING- JUST USE PAPER TOWL AND WIPE IT CLEAN. 

6. No shoes or sneakers allowed in the house – only flip flops, slippers, BAREFEET OR SOCKS. 

7. There will be absolutely no diving at any time! do not jump off anything, don’t dive off anything or attempt to (you will lose “privilege”) … THIS GOES FOR INSIDE AND OUTSIDE. DO NOT DIVE INTO THE POOL, WALK IN. YOUR 2 FEET SHOULD NEVER LEAVE THE GROUD AT THE SAME TIME. 

8. Do not at anytime open any windows or use any balconies, there is central AC. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED ON ANY BALCONY….. DO NOT SET THE AIRCONDITIONER BELOW 65 DEGREES. BY PUTTING THE TEMPERATURE LOWER DOESN’T GET THE HOUSE COLDER QUICKER. IF YOU PUT IT LOWER IT WILL FREEZE THE UNIT AND BREAK THE AC ALTOGETHER AND THEN THERE WILL BE NO AC. 

11. DO NOT OPEN FRONT DOOR EVER – DO NOT OPEN THE FRONT DOOR EVER – DO NOT OPEN THE FRONT DOOR EVER – DO NOT OPEN THE FRONT DOOR EVER – DO NOT OPEN THE FRONT DOOR EVER. ALWAYS GET THE SECURITY GUARD TO OPEN THE FRONT DOOR. EVEN IF IT IS A PARENT GET THE SECURITY GUARD. IF YOU OPEN THE FRONT DOOR BY ACCIDENT TELL THEM TO HOLD ON AND DO NOT LET THEM IN. CLOSE THE DOOR AND GET THE SECURITY GUARD. 

12. NO SWIMMING AT NIGHT – 8PM to 8am NO SWIMMING – hottub is privilege if they can be quiet and speak softly- if loud and screaming LOSE hottub privilege. 

13. DO NOT PUNCH ANY WALLS, DO NOT PUNCH ANYBODY, IF YOU LOSE A GAME OF BEER PONG PUNCH YOURSELF. THAT’S IT. THERE WILL BE NO FIGHTING NO BULLYING AND NO ALTERCATIONS, SHOULD THIS HAPPEN YOU LOSE THE PRIVILEGE. 

14. NO TAKING PRESCRIPTION DRUGS UNLESS YOU ARE PRESCRIBED, IF YOU TAKE THEM YOU SHOULD BE CAREFUL AND KNOW THE REPERCUSSIONS THAT HAPPEN WITH THEM WHEN YOU MIX ALCOHOL… IF YOU ARE TAKING THEM BECAUSE YOU ARE RESCRIBED YOU WILL NOT BE DRINKING. 

 

SHORTY STORY … LEES FRIENDS WOULD BE COLLEGE ROOMATE TO A XANAX AND DRANK A BEER. THE PERSON WENT TO SLEEP AND THREW UP ON HIS OWN THROW UP AND COKED AND DIED. LEES FREIND NEVER HAD A COLLEGE ROOMMATE. 

 

YOU WILL NOT TAKE PRESCRIPTIONS DRUGS AND DRINK. 

 

 

17. CUP FORMULA – Everything must be in a cup, FORMULA = YOU TAKE THE CAN, YOU pour in the cup, throw out the can… should we see cans, you LOSE privilege. 

 

THERE SHOULD BE NO CANS IN SIGHT EVER. PUT A GARBAGE BAG BY THE REFRIDGERATOR. 

 

18. WE WILL BREAK THE HOUSE UP INTO 3 AREAS…. 

 

BASEMENT IS PARTY AREA WITH MUSIC

UPSTAIRS IS TV AREA

UP UPSTAIRS IS SLEEPING AREA

 

 

21. THE security guard will stay in common areas, kitchen, living room UNLESS he has reason to believe there is a problem persisting in a bedroom. Security guard will be outside at all times when someone is OUTSIDE. DO NOT MAKE THE SECURITY GUARD HAVE TO COME INTO THE BEDROOM. 

 

 

SHOULD CODE ENFORCEMENT OR THE POLICE COME TO THE PROPERTY BECAUSE A NEIGHBOR MADE A NOISE COMPLAINT: 

1. Do not let them inside. They will ask you to come in and inspect the property. DO NOT LET A CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL, POLICE MAN, OR ANY OTHER PERSON, IN THE HOUSE THAT IS NOT A PART OF YOUR RENTAL. 

2. Tell them to hold on and DO NOT speak to them. Close the door, and call a representative from Hamptons and Sons IMMEDIATELY and let them know the details of the situation. 

3. CALL US RIGHT AWAY- DO NOT SPEAK TO THEM! 

 

* * *

On July 13, Lee Hnetinka of Jericho, Long Island was arraigned on more than 60 town code violations in the Town of Southampton. He pled not guilty.

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