NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for an off-duty New Jersey police officer charged with driving drunk said Thursday his client may have been drugged at a strip club before a wrong-way crash in New York City that killed two passengers.
Attorney Mario Gallucci told a judge that an expert he hired "found some medical evidence that could be interpreted to mean" suspended Linden police Officer Pedro Abad was given the date-rape drug known as GHB before the March crash on Staten Island.
He asked Judge Stephen Rooney if he could get Abad's blood sample to be tested. Assistant District Attorney Mark Palladino said he would find out if a sample is available.
A phone message left with the strip club by The Associated Press wasn't immediately returned.
Gallucci told Rooney that it is becoming common for strip clubs to offer GHB, which is short for gamma hydroxybutyrate, to men to try to get them to spend more money. He said he is representing another client who said he was drugged and involved in a crash on the same highway.
Prosecutors say Abad, who pleaded not guilty last month, crashed head-on into a tractor-trailer after leaving the Curves strip club. Tests later showed the officer's blood alcohol content was 0.24; the legal limit in New York is 0.08.
Hours before the crash, Abad had posted a photo on Instagram of three shot glasses filled with what he identified as "Jack Daniels Fire on the house."
Abad arrived in court Thursday in a wheelchair, his right foot and lower leg in a soft cast. His attorney said he is scheduled for another surgery on Dec. 1. His mother pushed him into the courthouse, but Abad was able to wheel himself to the defendant's table.
Frank Viggiano, a second off-duty Linden police officer, and Joseph Rodriguez — both 28 — died in the crash. A third officer, Patrik Kudlac, was critically injured.
Abad, 28, had two drunken-driving arrests in the last four years, including one for an accident in which he plowed through the wall of a convenience store, records show. He was suspended from his job in September.
He was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence in Roselle, New Jersey, in January 2011 after his car "put a hole completely through the building" housing a supermarket, a police report said. Abad was issued a summons for driving under the influence and reckless driving, but apparently the case didn't conclude in any citations or violations, the state Motor Vehicle Commission said.
Thirteen months later, Abad was charged with DUI in Rahway, New Jersey. A police dashboard camera video showed him weaving, wobbling and slurring his words as he attempted to complete a field sobriety test.
In June, four strippers and a club manager at two other New York strip club were charged with giving four men the stimulant methylone, commonly known as "molly," or the tranquilizer ketamine, and then taking the dazed and confused victims to the clubs, where their credit cards were swiped for a combined $200,000 in unauthorized charges.