Lawyer: NJ cop to plead not guilty in deadly crash

AP News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2015 12:17 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A New Jersey police officer will likely face vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter charges in a wrong-way, off-duty crash that killed a fellow officer and another friend in New York, his lawyer said.

No charges have been filed against 27-year-old Linden Police Officer Pedro Abad, who authorities said had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit at the time of the crash on Staten Island in March. But Abad's attorney, Mario Gallucci, told NJ.com (http://bit.ly/1gqnlaa) the officer is scheduled to appear in court in the case on Monday.

Gallucci said he expects Abad will be charged in the deaths of fellow Linden officer Frank Viggiano and resident Joseph Rodriguez, both 28. Another officer, Patrik Kudlac, 23, was critically injured in the crash. Abad will plead not guilty to any charges, Gallucci said.

A spokesman said the Staten Island district attorney had no comment.

Police said Abad crashed into a tractor-trailer on the West Shore Expressway after the group left a strip club. Hours earlier, Abad had posted a photo on his Instagram page of three shot glasses filled with what he identified as "Jack Daniels Fire on the house."

Gallucci said Abad uses a wheelchair because of leg injuries, one arm is disabled and he has a speech impediment due to "diminished mental capacity," as a result of the crash.

"He lost two good friends and a third was badly injured," Gallucci said.

Public records showed Abad had been involved in eight accidents since 2005 and had two arrests for drunken driving in the last four years.

In July, Kudlac's lawyer alerted Linden officials that he was planning to sue the city over its handling of an earlier drunk-driving case against Abad.

Abad was issued a ticket in Roselle in January 2011 for driving while intoxicated after his vehicle crashed into the wall of a supermarket, according to the notice. The DWI charge was later dismissed.

The notice alleges "negligence, fraud and/or official misconduct in connection with the handling and prosecution" of that case.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead questioned whether Kudlac's claim would have merit because the deadly crash occurred while Abad was off-duty.