Justin Timberlake Arrest Causes a Stir in the Hamptons


On Tuesday afternoon in Sag Harbor, Janice Yu of WABC-TV was sitting in the passenger seat of a Nissan news van, eating from a bag of Smart Food popcorn. It was as close as she would come to getting to a kernel of news.

“We don’t even know who he was with,” she said, referring to the singer and actor Justin Timberlake, who had been arrested by a Sag Harbor police officer shortly after midnight on Tuesday and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Ms. Yu, a reporter for ABC7 Eyewitness News in New York, was one of many journalists parked along Main Street near the American Hotel, a 19th-century inn where waiters serve Gardiner’s Bay littleneck clams and Long Island duckling confit to boomer stock sultans. It was also where Mr. Timberlake had been partying with friends the night before.

Now it was a muggy and sunny day on the leafy street of this quaint-by-Hamptons-standards onetime whaling village, lined by shops that sell everything from $30 Havaianas flip-flops to $4,600 swivel chairs by Charlotte Perriand. People in Lululemon activewear strolled by, clutching açaí bowls and iced drinks.

Ms. Yu, who joined the local news team in 2022 after a stint at Fox5 in Atlanta, had on a turquoise and green J. Crew dress. John Sprei, her field producer, was seated behind her in the van, wearing shorts and a T-shirt.

They had scored a copy of the arrest report that was filed in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court earlier that day — but so had the journalists in other vehicles lining the block, a convoy that included news trucks and vans from CBS, NBC, PIX11, Entertainment Tonight, The Associated Press and CNN.

The police report stated that Mr. Timberlake was driving a gray 2025 BMW after spending some time at the American Hotel. It also said that he hadn’t made it more than a few blocks before he drove through a stop sign on the corner of Madison Street and Jermain, a tree-lined block where the houses do not look like mansions.

He refused to take a breath test three times. “I had one martini and followed my friends home,” he told the arresting officer, according to the report. Mr. Timberlake “performed poorly” in various field sobriety tests, the report said.

He was arrested and taken to the police station, right behind the American Hotel, on Division Street. There, he handed over his wedding ring, his phone, his baseball cap, his watch, his wallet, a vape pen, and green and blue papers, the sort used for rolling marijuana, according to the police report. (In 2011, the singer told Playboy that he liked cannabis because it helps him to “stop thinking.”)

After sunrise, a number of news crews descended on Sag Harbor. At 9:30 a.m., cameras captured Mr. Timberlake when he left the station in handcuffs, bound for Sag Harbor Village Justice Court on Main Street, less than 500 feet from the American Hotel.

He enlisted Edward D. Burke Jr., a former Suffolk County prosecutor who has set up shop in a small office across from the American Hotel and made himself into the Hamptons’ go-to criminal defense lawyer. Mr. Timberlake, who is scheduled to play two shows at Madison Square Garden next week, pleaded not guilty to driving while intoxicated. A court date has been set for July 26.

As Ms. Yu filmed her last segment for the day, a CNN reporter stood outside the police station, which had closed at 4 p.m.

“I need the mug shot,” he yelled out to an officer in a nearby patrol car.

“You got to call media relations,” the officer yelled back.

The booking photo of Mr. Timberlake, which was released the Sag Harbor Police Department on Tuesday.Credit…Agence France-Presse, via Sag Harbor Police Department

Although the camera crews gave the American Hotel the appearance of a crime scene, all of its outdoor tables were occupied.

“It’s not bothersome,” said Theresa D’Andria, a Southampton resident who was there slurping up oysters with her husband. “The weather’s great.”

A few tables away, Stuart Levine, the former chief executive of Dale Carnegie & Associates, split $45 crab cakes with his wife, Harriet Levine.

“You won’t be getting your Pulitzer Prize for this,” he said to a reporter.

He added that he did not want to sound self-righteous (in fact, he didn’t) but he felt that the level of news coverage seemed a little over the top, given that Mr. Timberlake had not gotten into an accident.

“It’s like a happening,” he said.

Walking down the street, Vanessa Gordon, a Sag Harbor resident, approached the WABC-TV news van with her 6-year-old son, Ben Gordon. He was dressed in the fight-wear he had worn for his jujitsu class at Epic Martial Arts on Main Street.

Ms. Gordon asked Mr. Sprei and Ms. Yu if her son could hold the microphone and pretend to deliver a news dispatch. Mr. Sprei told him to come on up, so he did.

Andrew and Lauren Finkelstein, parents to one of Ben’s jujitsu buddies, approached soon after and asked if their son Max could join in the fun.

“We should charge admission,” Mr. Sprei said.

As Max Finkelstein, 6, clutched the mic, his father asked him what he wanted to report on. He didn’t seem to have an answer, so his father gave him a headline, inspired by one of Mr. Timberlake’s hits.

“Cry me a river!” Mr. Finkelstein called out.


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