A Brooklyn lawyer was sentenced Thursday to one to three years in prison for driving drunk when he was involved in a crash that killed a 21-year-old Ronkonkoma man on the Long Island Expressway.
Raj Jadeja pleaded guilty to manslaughter, assault, driving while intoxicated and driving while ability impaired by combined influence of drugs and alcohol in March at Nassau County court.
Police have said the 36-year-old man was driving a BMW eastbound on the LIE when he struck another BMW driven by George Ragotte, who had slowed down to avoid a two-vehicle crash in Plainview at 2:13 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015.
The victim was taken to Nassau University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead four hours later. Jadeja and the drivers in the initial crash were treated for their injuries.
A bus driver spotted Wednesday morning driving erratically while taking special-needs youngsters to school in New Hope was stopped by the State Patrol and jailed on suspicion of being high on drugs.
Soon after dropping off seven grade-schoolers at the North Education Center Academy, Connie J. Krystofiak, 66, of Hopkins, was pulled over near Interstate 394 and Hopkins Crossroad in Minnetonka thanks to a witness who reported the driver having difficulty staying on the road, according to the State Patrol. Krystofiak remains in the Hennepin County jail without bail pending charges.
About 8:30 a.m., a caller to 911 reported seeing a school bus traveling “on the shoulder and erratically” on Hwy. 169 at Bass Lake Road, not far from the school, said Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson.
The caller gave emergency dispatch the license plate, and the number and operator’s name on the bus.
A patrol dispatcher called the transportation provider and located the bus after it had left the public school, which serves children from kindergarten to age 21 who have physical or emotional difficulties.
Thanks in part to a state Department of Transportation traffic management camera, two troopers located the bus on westbound I-394 at Hopkins Crossroad, Nielson said.
“The troopers witnessed the bus crossing the fog line and driving on the shoulder,” she said.
The bus was stopped, and “the troopers observed indications of impairment” on the part of the driver, according to the lieutenant.
Krystofiak completed field sobriety tests, was arrested and jailed “on suspicion of driving while impaired by drugs,” Nielson said.
It will be six to eight weeks before authorities receive the results of toxicology tests administered to the driver, Nielson added.
In a statement sent to families, school officials lauded the motorists who reported their concerns to police.
“There is nothing more important than our students’ safety,” it said. “We are working with police and will ensure that all appropriate actions are taken.”
A HORSE WALKS INTO A BAR…A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender asks, “Why the long face?”
The prosecution of Rachel Winter – the daughter of a former Niagara County assistant district attorney – ended earlier this month when a judge dismissed her drunken driving charge and she admitted to failure to keep right and an equipment violation.But the reverberations of her case continue.Orleans County District Attorney Joseph V. Cardone, who handled the case as a special prosecutor, said Wednesday that her driving while intoxicated case was “very improperly handled” by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.Undersheriff Michael J. Filicetti replied that Cardone “did not do his job.”Now, the state Office of Court Administration is getting involved.”We’re looking into the circumstances regarding the dismissal,” said Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the office.Niagara Falls City Judge Robert P. Merino apologized to Winter earlier this month as he dismissed a drunken driving charge lodged against her by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.The case looked tangled from the beginning. The Sheriff’s Office filed a DWI charge against Winter, 21, four months after her arrest. When she was pulled over the night of Nov. 24 in Lockport, Deputy Timothy Caughel wanted to file a DWI charge, according to Filicetti.But Filicetti has said the DWI charge was not brought at the time because Caughel’s supervisor that night, Lt. Steve Broderick, was doing a favor for Winter’s father, Ronald J. Winter, the former assistant Niagara County district attorney. Filicetti said the ex-prosecutor came to Sheriff’s Headquarters that night and talked to Broderick.The department later brought an unspecified “administrative action” against Broderick, who is also Town of Lewiston supervisor.Cardone was named special prosecutor in the case because of the connections of Ronald Winter, who now serves as confidential law clerk to State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr.Asked if he is being investigated by the state court agency that employs him, Ronald Winter said, “Not to my knowledge.””I feel this was very improperly handled by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department, that there was inadequate proof of her (Rachel Winter’s) intoxication,” Cardone said.”Joe Cardone did not do his job,” Filicetti said. “Right out of the gate, when he first met with me, he did not want Rachel Winter charged with DWI. He discouraged us from laying the proper charge that the deputy intended to lay that night.””I think his comments are inappropriate,” Cardone responded.The Sheriff’s Office said Ronald Winter came to the office, intervened to prevent a DWI charge from being filed against his daughter, and convinced Broderick to tell Caughel not to file the charge. Broderick has said he is not able to discuss the matter.Broderick was the subject of an undisclosed internal administrative action, as was his commander that night, Capt. Jill Herrington.”Persons in the Sheriff’s Department viewed Steve Broderick as a potential candidate for sheriff and sought to discredit him, and used this case to do it,” Ronald Winter said after his daughter’s DWI charge was dismissed.”I stand by my statement that I wasn’t looking for any favor,” Ronald Winter added Wednesday.”That’s totally false,” Filicetti said. “I have video evidence of him asking for this not to happen for his daughter.”That video, taken by Caughel’s body cam, also reportedly shows Rachel Winter’s field sobriety tests and the conversation between Broderick and Caughel. Filicetti said the department would not release the tape.Cardone said the video was the primary reason he didn’t object to a defense motion to throw out the DWI and reckless driving charges.He said he asked two police drug recognition experts and some Orleans County sheriff’s deputies to look at the tape of Rachel Winter’s field sobriety tests.”There was an absolute consensus that she wasn’t intoxicated, based upon the video,” Cardone said.He added that Rachel Winter was not asked to take a breath test.”I looked at the video, and I have a different determination than he does,” Filicetti said.He added that Caughel also is a trained drug recognition expert.”It’s crystal clear from the video that Rachel Winter was not intoxicated at the time of her initial arrest,” defense attorney Theresa L. Prezioso said, adding that Merino viewed the tape and the charging documents.Filicetti said Cardone should have pursued the case and put Caughel on the witness stand.”The deputy was on the stand through the video,” Cardone said.
Ramsey said he got all three occupants out of the car and that during questioning, the driver appeared to be nervous. Ramsey said he got his K-9, Storm, to walk around the vehicle and the dog indicated that there were drugs present. During a search of the vehicle, officers located some digital scales. A search of a female passenger turned up heroin, a syringe and other items of paraphernalia.
The driver of the car, Kenneth W. Taylor, 46, of Washington, was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, operating a vehicle while intoxicated involving endangerment, conspiracy to commit dealing in a narcotic and maintaining a common nuisance.
Two passengers in the vehicle were also arrested. Thomas J. Hardcastle, 28, of Washington, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit dealing in a narcotic, possession of a narcotic drug, possession of paraphernalia, unlawful possession of a syringe and visiting a common nuisance. In addition, he was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Johnson County for failure to appear.
Bethany Johnson, 27, of Washington, was arrested on charges of unlawful possession of a syringe, possession of paraphernalia, conspiracy to commit dealing in a narcotic, possession of a narcotic drug and visiting a common nuisance.
“This was a surprise,” said Ramsey. “I really wasn’t expecting to find that. I guess you never know what in the world we will run into any more.”
Taylor, Hardcastle and Johnson were taken to the Daviess County Jail. Hardcastle is being held on $200,000 bond. Taylor and Johnson were being held on $100,000 bond each.
Daviess County Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit had praise for the deputy and the community for their support in adding the K-9 officers. “We aren’t overwhelmed by heroin now, but we don’t want to be,” said Harbstreit. “This shows the importance of having an alert deputy and a K-9 available to stop the movement of drugs through our community.”
Authorities report 4.6 grams of heroin were confiscated during the stop. “That’s a large amount of heroin for our area,” said Daviess County Chief Deputy Gary Allison.
A grasshopper walks into a bar, and the bartender says, “Hey, we have a drink named after you!”
The grasshopper looks surprised and asks, “You have a drink named Steve?”
The 26-year-old man accused of plowing into pedestrians in New York’s Times Square, hitting and killing an 18-year-old woman and injuring 22 others, has been indicted by a grand jury, according to the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
Richard Rojas was indicted Wednesday, though the charges will not be made public until his arraignment July 13 in Manhattan Supreme Court.
His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
Following the May 18 rampage, Rojas, a U.S. citizen and resident of the Bronx, was arrested on charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder. Police said Rojas was driving down Seventh Avenue in Manhattan when he made a sudden U-turn and started driving the wrong direction from 42nd to 45th Street “at a high rate of speed both on and off the sidewalk, striking numerous pedestrians,” according to the criminal complaint.
Authorities said Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old tourist from Portage, Mich., was struck and killed, and that her 13-year-old sister was injured.
People described the horror on social media, saying a car had driven onto a sidewalk in Times Square, mowed down pedestrians and crashed. Witnesses said the wounded were “laying on the sidewalks” and others were “screaming and running, the place is swarming with emergency vehicles and cops.” Those in the area were told to shelter in place while emergency crews swarmed the scene.
The vehicle sat smoldering, eerily tilted on one side, at the corner of 45th Street.
After Rojas crashed the vehicle, police said, he ran from the scene and said that he wanted to “kill them,” according to the court documents.
Police said Rojas had glassy eyes, was unsteady and slurring his speech. Court records state that Rojas told police that he had been smoking marijuana laced with the mood-altering drug PCP. Preliminary tests showed that Rojas was indeed under the influence of PCP at the time of the incident, according to news reports.
Rojas has a criminal history that includes two arrests for driving while intoxicated — once in 2008 and again in 2015, authorities said. He recently pleaded guilty to harassment after he was accused of pulling a kitchen knife on a notary at his home in the Bronx, according to the Associated Press. Prosecutors said he told the notary, “You’re trying to steal my identity,” according to the news agency.
Rojas does not have to enter a plea on the charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder until his arraignment in Manhattan next month.