A Pennsylvania man allegedly caught cooking methamphetamine in a Greenport hotel bathroom is being held on $100,000 cash bail after his arraignment in Southold Town court Wednesday morning.
Timothy Stepp, 48, of Easton, Penn. told Judge William Price that he had made the drug Monday night to fuel his addiction, not to sell on the street.
“It’s my habit,” he said in court. “I have a counselor, but I don’t know. I never should have learned how to do [it].”
Mr. Stepp — who had been working as a PSEG-hired tree trimmer on Shelter Island — said he had been staying with coworkers from the company at the Townsend Manor Inn on Main Street.
Mr. Stepp was in the hotel room with another co-worker at the time of the incident, Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley confirmed.
That co-worker — who did not give his name — told The Suffolk Times he had no idea what his roommate was up to. He had seen Mr. Stepp carrying a small “toolbox” around. Monday night was just the second night the two men had slept in the same room.
The coworker said he woke up just before midnight to find white smoke filling the room. He then saw Mr. Stepp grabbing things from around the room and yelling to him to “get out.”
The coworker said the smoke made his eyes burn.
“I could smell the chemicals,” he told the newspaper Tuesday while taking a drag from his cigarette outside the hotel. “It’s unbelievable.”
Due to the smoke and smells, the coworker said, he soon realized his roommate had been cooking meth.
The coworker told The Suffolk Times he had feared he would get arrested when police arrived, so he ran from the scene barefoot and called the cops the next morning after a sleepless night.
Chief Flatley said detectives interviewed the man extensively and found he was not involved in the suspected drug-making.
Greenport firefighters and Southold police officers were called to the Townsend Manor Inn just before midnight after a smoke alarm went off, according to a police report.
Mr. Flatley said cops discovered a meth cooking operation in the hotel room’s bathroom, along with trace amounts of meth.
Authorities also discovered ingredients used to make meth, as well as spoons, surgical tubes, paper filters and other “lab equipment,” according to charges in Southold Town court.
Mr. Stepp had already left the scene when authorities arrived.
“He took off, we could not locate him,” Chief Flatley said. But late Tuesday morning, Mr. Stepp returned to the scene and was arrested
He was charged with two felonies for the manufacture of meth and possession of precursors of the drug, as well as misdemeanor criminal possession of a controlled substance for the trace amount discovered at the scene. If convicted, he faces a maximum of seven years in prison.
At the arraignment Wednesday morning, Suffolk County district attorney Brad Magill said Mr. Stepp has a criminal history stretching over several states, including Arizona, Florida and New Jersey.
Mr. Magill said the defendant signed a written confession after he was caught.
As Judge Price set his bail, Mr. Stepp shook his head. He told the judge he needed to keep working.
“I want to get better,” he said. “I got family I want to take care of.”
Judge Price recommended the man seek drug court to address his problem.
“The thing is, if you don’t deal with this addiction, you’re not going to be taking care of your family for much longer,” Judge Price said. “I can’t solve all your problems.”
Mr. Stepp is due back in court Friday. He was served a grand jury notice, indicating he may face charges in county court.