By Danny Schrafel
Daniel Karpen, a longtime presence at Huntington Town Hall meetings, remained in county jail Wednesday night after being arraigned on felony assault charges.
Karpen, 66, of Huntington, is accused of biting a police officer while he was being handcuffed before Tuesday night’s town board meeting.
The longtime town board raconteur and Heckscher Park bass-fishing advocate was bounced from the meeting by Public Safety and police officers after he refused to allow them to search a bag he carried into Huntington Town Hall, officials said.
Karpen was arraigned Wednesday on second-degree assault causing injury to an officer, a D felony; third-degree criminal trespass and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors; and disorderly conduct, a violation.
Police said a town public safety officer asked to search Karpen’s bag outside Town Hall’s meeting room at 6:40 p.m. However, they allege Karpen refused and was asked to step outside. Instead, officials said he darted into the packed town board room, where hundreds were waiting for a public hearing on The Seasons at Elwood senior housing development to start.
There, he was given a pro-Seasons at Elwood sign, an Engel Burman spokeswoman said, which he then tore up. That’s when public safety asked Second Precinct officers to remove Karpen from the board room, town spokesman A.J. Carter said.
However, Karpen’s attorney, Huntington-based Darrin Berger, who was also in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting and saw Karpen sign in to speak outside the meeting room, disputed the chain of events presented by authorities. He argued the trouble only began within the town board room.
“It just seemed very suspicious that he got through a number of public safety people and Suffolk County police without being asked to have his personal belongings scrutinized,” Berger said.
In the moments before his arrest, several Public Safety officers kept close to Karpen, asking him to step outside. He refused and grew more irate, yelling at an officer to “get lost” and bellowing that the men had no Constitutional right to search his bag.
When a pair of Suffolk County police officers came into the auditorium to remove Karpen, he backed himself up against the dais as he dodged officers, then pressed himself against the wall and inched up the steps, where two police officers cornered him.
Police said that Karpen bit the female officer in the forearm while he was being handcuffed inside an adjacent hallway leading from the board room to Town Hall room 114. The officer was treated at Huntington Hospital.
Karpen was held on $5,025 cash and $10,000 bail. Berger said he expected to post bail Thursday morning following a hearing.
Berger spoke to Karpen post-arraignment Wednesday and said his client “was in good spirits.”
“He didn’t seem to be in any way intimidated or scared. He seemed optimistic that his release was being secured,” Berger said. “The main thing he was concerned about was for me to stop over his house tonight [Wednesday] and feed his cat.”