A Baldwin man admitted Tuesday he had been driving while intoxicated and knew he had hit someone -- and not a deer -- before fleeing a Port Washington crash last year that left a pedestrian dead.
Cosmin Florea, 34, pleaded guilty to charges that included the felonies of second-degree vehicular manslaughter and leaving a fatal accident scene.
He also pleaded to misdemeanors, telling Nassau County Judge Helene Gugerty he had been drunk and under the influence of marijuana while behind the wheel.
The Aug. 15 crash killed Donald Mooney Jr., 49, of Lynbrook, a father of two who had been crossing Main Street shortly before midnight on a coffee run when Florea's Ford Fusion hit him. Mooney worked as a dispatcher for a Port Washington limo company and also had a job in coffee sales in Manhattan, his family has said.
Prosecutors agreed to a sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison as part of Florea's plea to all the charges against him. Assistant District Attorney Michael Bushwack told the judge his office had been in close contact with Mooney's family and that the victim's mother knew about the plea agreement.
The prosecutor said at least one of Mooney's relatives planned to speak at Florea's sentencing, which Gugerty set for May 12.
In a statement, acting District Attorney Madeline Singas said she hoped the conviction would give Mooney's loved ones some comfort and that Florea "thought only of himself after the crash" as the victim "lay dying in the street."
Authorities have said police in Queens pulled Florea's car over about 45 minutes after the crash, and that Florea said he "hit a deer in Port Washington" when questioned about damage to his vehicle.
A breath test showed Florea's blood alcohol content was 0.13 percent about three hours after the crash -- above the legal threshold for intoxication of 0.08 percent -- followed by a blood test that showed he had used marijuana, authorities said.
Florea's mother cried Tuesday as his parents watched him plead guilty. Later, defense attorney Michael DerGarabedian said Florea had reached out to Mooney's family to express remorse and that his client is a graphic designer and churchgoing father with no criminal history.
"This was never a case about whether he was going to accept responsibility or not. It was just a matter of when he was going to. And I think he wanted to put this behind him and let the family start healing -- both families," the Rockville Centre lawyer said.Florea would have faced up to 14 years in prison if found guilty at trial, according to DerGarabedian, who said his client now should be eligible for parole in about two years.