Wrong-Way Cop Beat Prior DUI After State Failed To Turn Over Evidence
ROSELLE – The deadly wrong-way crash that took place in Staten Island on 20 March involved a Linden officer who had prior drunk-driving charges that were dismissed because his defense attorney was not given the evidence he repeatedly requested.
The charges were filed against Pedro Abad Jr. after an accident that happened on 22 January 2011 when he crashed through the walls of a Roselle store. However, the charges against 27-year-old Abad were dropped nearly a year later as evidence ordered by Municipal Court Judge Carl Marshall was not turned over. The requested evidence included State Police blood-testing reports and tapes of police transmissions.
According to Marshall, the court was left with no choice but to dismiss the case. An audio-recording of the court proceedings of the brief of 19 January, 2012 was made available with details.
The Roselle Municipal Prosecutor argued against the dismissal, stating that it is an “extremely serious case.”
When the deadly wrong-way crash took place, Abad was driving north in the southbound lanes of the West Shore Expressway in Staten Island. He crashed head-on into a tractor trailer and as a result, two passengers in the vehicle were fatally injured. These passengers included 28-year-old fellow Linden officer Frank Viggiano and 28-year-old Linden resident Joseph Rodriguez. Another passenger in the vehicle, 28-year-old Patrik Kudlac, also a Linden officer, was critically injured in the crash along with Abad. They were both transported to separate hospitals in Staten Island.
NYPD reported that the accident took place just before 5 a.m. when the men were coming back from a Curves strip club in Staten Island. NYPD obtained a warrant to test Abad’s blood alcohol level as it was not clear if he had been drinking that night or not.
His previous record shows that Abad had been charged with drunk driving in two separate incidents over the last four years. In one incident that took place in 2013, he was recorded on a police dash cam recording, unable to complete a field sobriety test. He faced multiple charges which resulted in the suspension of his driver’s license, which was restored in May 2014. According to state records, Abad was required to install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle until September 2013 after that incident.
In another incident that took place on 22 January 2011, Abad was driving his 2010 Audi A5 south on St. George Avenue when his vehicle went off the road at Rivington Avenue and crashed through the wall of the New Way Supermarket. A Roselle officer and firefighter who arrived at the scene smelled alcohol on him. His blood alcohol level was checked which came out to be 0.176 percent, more than twice the legal limit. He was taken to University Hospital where he was treated for injuries.
Less than a week after the accident, his attorney, Greggory Marootian, filed a list of requests for evidence. This included the kit used to take Abad’s blood sample, a copy of the manual outlining the procedures used to analyze the blood, and 12 months of reports on the servicing of the machine in the State Police laboratory used to conduct the analysis. He also requested audio recordings of police transmissions from the night of the accident.
Abad’s attorney also filed a motion five months later to suppress results of the blood sample testing of his client, arguing that a warrant was not obtained by the police to obtain a blood sample. Abad was in the hospital at the time his sample was drawn. However, according to Roselle police, officers were not required to obtain a warrant in 2011 as long as they had probable cause to believe the driver was driving drunk.
Eventually in August 2011, Marshall issued an order giving police 30 days to provide Marootian with the evidence he requested. In return, State Police provided six months of reports about the analysis machine, stating that this is what they normally supply. Two non-consecutive pages of standard procedures were also provided by the State Police. However, Marootian argued to the judge that 12 months of reports on the servicing of the machine and several pages of standard procedures were not turned over. He also argued that he had not received the audio recordings of police transmissions ad complained to the judge about delays in receiving the information in the hearing.
The judge noted the complaints and said he would give police one more month to provide the requested information. He also said that the case had dragged for nearly a year and if the requested information is still not supplied, he would consider a defense motion to dismiss the case.
Steven Merman, the Municipal Prosecutor, quickly argued against a dismissal, stating that Marootian had only requested the blood evidence be suppressed. “This is an extremely serious case,” he said at the Dec. 15, 2011 hearing.
The prosecutor also noted that Kendall Vaughn, the investigating police officer, had been out sick for a long time and had no control over the information that State Police supplied.
In the next hearing that took place on 19 January, 2012, the charges against Abad were dismissed. The hearing only lasted three minutes in which Marshall stated that he had originally given authorities until Sept. 30, 2011 to supply information to Marootian, but it had been more than three months above the deadline and he had yet to receive it.
Marootian and Merman, both declined to comment on the case when contacted.
News Source: www.NJ.com