By Danny Schrafel
Huntington’s Daniel Karpen is free on bail after being arrested at Huntington Town Hall on a felony assault charge June 17.
He was freed from county jail after posting $5,025 cash bail on June 19, according to online court records.
Karpen, a licensed engineer, ardent environmentalist and noted raconteur at Huntington Town Board meetings, was arrested after authorities say he refused to allow town Public Safety officers to search a container he brought into the town board meeting room before a hearing about The Seasons at Elwood senior condominium community.
After Karpen began shouting at Public Safety officers, Second Precinct officers intervened and took him into custody. While being cuffed, authorities allege he bit a female police officer.
Karpen, who faces assault, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges, pleaded not guilty and is due back in court Aug. 21, his attorney, Huntington-based Darrin Berger, said Tuesday.
Hardly ever at a loss for words, Karpen was noticeably subdued when reached at his home Tuesday as he referred calls to his attorney.
But Berger had plenty to say and questioned whether Karpen was treated fairly by Public Safety.
“I’m not saying he was specifically singled out by town officials to submit for a search. I have no proof of that. It just seems there was some selectivity in singling out Danny for a search,” Berger said.
Town spokesman A.J. Carter declined to comment comment because “the matter is now in the hands of the district attorney.”
Berger also questioned when exactly town officers decided to demand the search of a box containing what Berger described as an array of carved wooden turtle figurines. While authorities allege Karpen refused a request to search the container in the hallway, Berger contends the demand didn’t come until he was inside the crowded board room, after Karpen and other attendees passed two police officers and two public safety officers.
“Everybody knew what was in the box,” Berger said. “He obviously came in the door with what they wanted to search. Why didn’t they conduct the search at that time?”
Berger said he and his client came into Huntington Town Hall through the rear parking lot breezeway at about the same time June 17. When they signed in to speak about The Seasons, Berger was number 89 on the list and Karpen 91st, the attorney recalled.
Karpen previously has used the turtles to illustrate “turtle jams” when commenting on traffic concerns about development proposals.
Demanding a search of Karpen once in the board room, Berger said, just didn’t make sense – he had been known for bringing various odds and ends to board meetings to illustrate his points, and attorneys and others breezed through security with briefcases and an array of pro- and anti-Seasons signs, he said.
With his high-profile and outspoken ways, Karpen has become “a public figure at those meetings,” Berger said, and one he acknowledged can be “considered a thorn in the side of authority.”
“I can see how he could grate against public officials, and I could see, impliedly or expressly, how they would relish that he wasn’t there that night,” Berger said.