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Traffic Stop Yields Marijuana, Heroin

By
Taylor K. Vecsey

A traffic stop on Dec. 30 led to the biggest drug bust in recent memory in Sag Harbor Village. The defendants, who remain in jail due to the serious charges against them, allegedly had large amounts of heroin, hydrocodone pills, and marijuana in their car. 

They are facing 8 to 24 years in prison, depending on their prior convictions, on the top charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, an A-1 felony, because, police said, the narcotics weighed eight or more ounces. 

A Sag Harbor officer spotted an expired inspection sticker on a 2004 GMC Yukon that was heading north on Main Street at about 5:25 p.m. The driver, Veronica M. Zill, 23, of East Hampton, had also failed to signal as she turned right onto Jermain Avenue, police said. When the officer approached the car, which he had stopped across from 93 Suffolk Street Extension, he noticed a strong odor of marijuana. The officer also found the inspection certificate was for a 2005 Jeep, not the Yukon.

Questioned about whether there was marijuana or any other illegal substance in the car, Ms. Zill and her passenger, Bernard Kulick, 28, who is originally from East Hampton but gave an address in San Diego, denied it at first, although Mr. Kulick eventually admitted having smoked marijuana earlier in the day in the car.

Police took his admission as an opening to search the vehicle. They found one large plastic bag inside a black duffel bag that contained narcotics behind the front passenger seat. Also found were four small plastic bags with a green leafy substance under the dashboard in front of the passenger seat.

As police continued to search, a strong burning smell came from the engine compartment and they shut the engine off. Under the hood, they found no fire but a large plastic bag with a green leafy substance and a black Apache 1800 camera case “smoking,” according to the arrest report. Inside the camera case the officer found “a large amount of narcotics.” Police did not release specific amounts, pending testing. “I think the lab report is going to change the face of the case substentially,” said Carl Irace, who is representing Mr. Kulick.

Mr. Kulick and Ms. Zill were arrested and taken to Sag Harbor Village police headquarters. Police asked Ms. Zill if she had any other illegal substances on her person. At that point, the arrest report said, “she did produce of her own will, from her vagina, two plastic bags containing empty glassine envelopes. She also stated that she had marijuana within her vagina, but was unable to retrieve it.” 

At her arraignment on New Year’s Eve, Ms. Zill told her attorney that she is 17 weeks pregnant. Police took her to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, where hospital staff, according to police, removed a plastic bag containing a green leafy substance. She was released and taken to East Hampton Village police headquarters, since her co-defendant was by then occupying the small Sag Harbor Village police holding cell.

At about 7 p.m., Mr. Kulick complained of drug withdrawal symptoms and police took him to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital for evaluation. He was released a short time later and taken back to police headquarters, where he was held overnight for morning arraignment.

In additional to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, Mr. Kulick and Ms. Zill were charged with two counts of possession in the third degree, one count of possession in the fifth degree, criminal possession of marijuana in the third degree, all felonies, and criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree, a misdemeanor. Mr. Irace said his client denies the charges and intends to fight them in court. Ms. Zill’s Legal Aid attorney could not be reached for comment.

Justice Janine M. Rayano ordered them held without bail. At press time, they had not yet been indicted. 

In other arrests reported this week, a Hampton Bays man, Joey S. Mejia-Cruz, 21, was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana charge on New Year’s Eve. Police, who stopped his 2015 Audi on Harbor View Drive, near Three Mile Harbor-Hog Creek Road in Springs at about 10:30 a.m., said he was found in possession of an aggregate weight of two ounces or more of a green leafy substance that later tested positive for marijuana. He was charged with criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree, and was released on $100 bail with an appearance ticket. He is due in court today. 

With Reporting by Isabella Harford