Nassau police attorney Karen Taggart's conduct at crash scene probed

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Authorities are investigating whether an attorney who works for the Nassau County Police Department interfered at a deadly crash scene where police arrested her brother on a drunken driving charge.

Police said attorney Karen Taggart showed up at an April 22 crash in Levittown where they arrested her brother, James Taggart Jr., 43.

Authorities said James Taggart's car struck and killed pedestrian Robert Chapman Sr., 81, of Bethpage. He was crossing Hempstead Turnpike to get to the grocery store where he worked.

Police spokesman Insp. Kenneth Lack said Wednesday that acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter has referred the matter involving Karen Taggart to internal affairs.

"A preliminary investigation reveals she did not interfere with James Taggart's arrest. Mr. Taggart was arrested and charged appropriately," Lack said.

Shams Tarek, a spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, said her office also is looking into Karen Taggart's conduct. "It was alleged to us she was at the scene and interacted with people at the scene, and we are investigating those allegations," Tarek said.

Records show Karen Taggart, who didn't return a call to her office, has worked for the county since 1995 and earns $95,000 a year.

James Taggart, of Levittown, pleaded not guilty to driving while intoxicated and is free on $7,500 bail. Defense attorney William Petrillo said Taggart is a sheet metal worker and Navy veteran who is a married father of four. "He and his family are very sensitive to the loss of life," the attorney said.

Petrillo said further investigation will show his client wasn't drunk, and any probe into Karen Taggart's conduct won't affect that.

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"Considering this accident was unavoidable on one of the country's most dangerous roadways for pedestrians, and that alcohol played no part in it since Mr. Taggart was not intoxicated, there is no collateral investigation that can change that truth," Petrillo said.

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