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Nov 24, 2015 11:22 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Questions Raised About Driving Privileges In Connection With Anna Pump's Death

The crosswalk in front of the Bridgehampton Post Office on Montauk Highway, where Luis M. Ortega struck Anna Pump on the evening of October 5. ALYSSA MELILLO
Nov 24, 2015 2:11 PM

Anonymous letters sent to the family of Anna Pump have raised questions about whether the man who struck and killed the late chef as she crossed Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton last month has ever had driving privileges in New York.

Meanwhile, Luis M. Ortega’s attorney and the Suffolk County district attorney’s office have provided conflicting information about whether Mr. Ortega has ever had a valid state driver’s license.

A letter that Ms. Pump’s daughter, Sybille van Kempen, received shortly after her mother’s death made the claim that Mr. Ortega had illegally obtained a driver’s license from a store in Queens. The letter-writer said, “The licenses themselves are official New York State licenses, only the picture and the names on those licenses are not correct because they were purchased using fraud and deception.”

The writer also claimed that Mr. Ortega has used several different names over the years, including the hyphenated last name Ortega-Pillacela, and that his eyesight is compromised.

DA spokesperson Robert Clifford said that there is no record of Mr. Ortega ever having had a valid New York driver’s license. “The [Department of Motor Vehicles] has certified to this office there are no records of license applications, determinations, decisions regarding license applications, results of eye examinations or eye examinations taken, or driving examinations regarding and/or involving the defendant,” he wrote in an email.

Mr. Ortega was arrested on October 5 by Southampton Town Police and charged with circumvention of an interlock device—essentially, a court-ordered Breathalyzer installed on a motor vehicle’s dashboard, requiring a breath test before the vehicle can be driven—unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk after his pickup truck struck and killed Ms. Pump while she was crossing Montauk Highway in the crosswalk near the Bridgehampton Post Office.

His attorney, Anthony Rutowski of Astarita & Associates P.C., said at the time that Mr. Ortega had been required to have an interlock device because of a DWI charge in 2012, for which he was convicted in 2013, and that his license had been suspended because he had not finished paying the court fees, fines and surcharges associated with that charge.

Additionally, Mr. Rutowski had said that the requirement that Mr. Ortega have an interlock device was put in place on January 2, 2013, for one year—so the requirement actually would have expired in January 2014, if all the fines and costs had been paid.

Colin Astarita, an attorney who is also handling Mr. Ortega’s case, said last week that he has not actually seen or obtained a copy of a license for his client, but he did provide DMV records that indicated that Mr. Ortega had reapplied, and was approved, for a driver’s license in March 2014.

Mr. Clifford, however, suggested that Mr. Ortega may have applied only to have his privilege to obtain a license reinstated, and that it may have been the case that for the past few years it was his privilege, not an actual license itself, that had been suspended.

Mr. Ortega was arrested by Southampton Town Police in March 2012 and charged with DWI as well as refusing a breath screening test. In February 2013, he was arrested by Southampton Village Police and charged with circumvention of an interlock device and, this time, second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle—charges similar to the ones he faced last month.

Mr. Ortega was arrested under the names Luis M. Ortega-Pillacela and Luis Marcos Ortega-Pillacela, respectively. Mr. Astarita explained that his client’s name has appeared three different ways in police reports because of the way each police officer recorded it at the time of the arrest.

“New York State DMV issues a client ID number to every motorist, including out-of-state drivers, and even those who do not hold a valid license,” Mr. Astarita said. “This is what controls when the court or police are trying to determine a person’s identity. Regardless of how the name is written, or if with a hyphenated name, a police officer only writes down one of the names. All that really matters is the client ID number.”

Mr. Astarita said his client confirmed that he does have an eye problem, but the attorney said that he was waiting for Mr. Ortega’s doctor to confirm exactly what it is. Mr. Astarita said Mr. Ortega does use glasses and was wearing them when his vehicle struck Ms. Pump.

Mr. Astarita has also confirmed that Mr. Ortega is not a legal U.S. citizen, but has applied and not yet been approved for a Social Security card. It remains unclear, however, how Mr. Ortega was able to obtain a valid driver’s license, which his attorneys have said he had, without a Social Security card.

After The Press published a story last week about Ms. van Kempen asking the letter-writer to come forward, she received a second letter in which the writer suggests that he or she is not coming forward for safety reasons.

“My only concern is that this does not happen again,” the person wrote. “Trust no one.”

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My God!!
By MaryGrady (40), on Nov 24, 15 3:01 PM
Apparently we'd only have to take him into the woods about 500 feet...
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Nov 24, 15 3:26 PM
Q333 Not funny
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Nov 24, 15 5:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
I gave this guy the benefit of doubt but come on. Not a green card holder? Prior DWI's? No valid drivers license? He should be in jail.
By auntof9 (159), Southampton on Nov 24, 15 6:10 PM
Another illegal alien here is the US exploiting the generosity of our country, who kills a wonderful person through criminal negligence. Just last year we lost a nun when she was run down by an illegal alien. That man has never been brought to justice as he quickly left the country and is in hiding somewhere in South America.

It is utter madness not to have control of our borders..
By BillWillConn3 (180), Southampton on Nov 24, 15 10:15 PM
2 members liked this comment
Another stellar investigation of a pedestrian death by Southampton Town Police. They seem to have a problem with names and photographs of suspects in vehicular homicides, no?
By btdt (449), water mill on Nov 24, 15 10:24 PM
And no, don't worry. There is no voter fraud going on with illegals in this country either.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Nov 25, 15 7:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
Everyone bashes illegals but happily employs them at low wages and utilizes their painting or landscaping services because they are cheaper. Those guys hanging at the train stop get picked up every day by homeowners and contractors.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Nov 25, 15 7:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
Not everyone.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Nov 25, 15 6:49 PM
No great surprise.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 25, 15 7:42 AM
I've experienced loss as a result of illegal aliens as well, not the loss of life of a loved one, rather, the loss of a lifelong career and livelihood in the trades which has been slowly eroded by unfair illegal competition resulting in a slow and painful death, the death of the American tradesman, craftsman, and service person. The illegal alien's crime is minor in comparison to those who hire him thus keeping him here, as well as the broken system which does not enforce and protect. All of you ...more
By Silencedogood2015 (3), Southampton on Nov 28, 15 1:30 PM
5 members liked this comment
I did think about it and I think blaming all of us for this is a new low.

There was a point in time when I would have completely agreed with you. I've lost work because I do not speak Spanish. I have never picked up a day laborer but I have no control over who companies hire. I can tell you that it is extremely difficult to find any locals willing to do menial work at any reasonable rate. Why don't teenagers here take on odd jobs like they do in the rest of the country? EVERY SINGLE ...more
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Nov 28, 15 3:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Have you noticed what it costs to live around here lately?

MIT proved conclusively that the absolute minimum necessary to live in Suffolk County is $13 an hour. That's just paying the absolute, starving artist basics and saving absolutely nothing.

Now, imagine having an outrageous mortgage, overpriced utilities, and paying more for everything under the sun thanks to the "canal tax". Frankly, $25 an hour east of the canal ain't ****.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 28, 15 6:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
No soap box here. Rather than sitting anonymously behind a keyboard and blogging on these sites, I am a person of action. I have not taking to Washington, rather, I have sought enforcement and reform on many different levels resulting in two criminal indictments, one multiple felony conviction resulting in a lengthy jail sentence, with two more investigations/potential criminal cases being built against the corporate officers of two Hampton based firm's. I was also the spark that prompted enforcement ...more
By Silencedogood2015 (3), Southampton on Nov 29, 15 10:17 AM
1 member liked this comment
So move
Nov 30, 15 9:13 AM appended by joe hampton
Z , respectfuly , If its too expensive here, then you are living above your means and should go somewhere you can afford to live. know one owes you a Hampton's lifestyle
By joe hampton (3461), southampton on Nov 30, 15 9:13 AM
If you find someone wanting our democratically passed immigration laws offensive you're the one who should move.
Nov 30, 15 11:37 AM appended by ChrisDiPetta
immigration laws "enforced".
By ChrisDiPetta (37), on Nov 30, 15 11:37 AM
It does cost more to live here than it does to live in , lets say, Shirley or Patchogue. IMHO the quality of life we enjoy here is worth that cost. What is your solution to the "problem" Z?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 29, 15 8:51 AM
OK silenced, good job but please have some respect for the family. This article is really not the place for this discussion
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Nov 29, 15 11:07 AM
If I am not mistaken possessing a forged drivers license is a felony. Was he arrested for that?
By fishy (92), East Hampton on Nov 30, 15 8:49 AM
Try searching a story about the death of Drew Rosenberg with search words unlicensed to kill. There are nearly 7,000 deaths of a similar nature in the US each year in these unlicensed to kill scenarios. There is a very detailed article about Drew's story, the outcome of which would make any victim's family angry and illustrates just how broken our system really is. We can either blame the illegal immigrant, blame our broken justice system, or blame ourselves for providing these people with livelihoods ...more
By Silencedogood2015 (3), Southampton on Nov 30, 15 8:19 PM
1 member liked this comment