A Center Moriches man charged with injuring an officer when he struck a police car while driving drunk on Sunrise Highway in Brookhaven Saturday admitted to having eight to nine beers before getting behind the wheel, court papers said Sunday.
Carlos Morocho, 27, pleaded not guilty in Suffolk District Court in Central Islip Sunday and was held on bail of $150,000 bond or $75,000 cash. He was arraigned on charges of driving while intoxicated, false impersonation, aggravated unlicensed operation, using a vehicle without an interlock device and leaving an accident scene.
The officer, who has been released from the hospital, was at the scene of a car fire in the eastbound lanes when his patrol vehicle was rear-ended shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday by the 2003 Ford van Morocho drove, Suffolk County police said.
Morocho ran away on foot but was quickly located and arrested, police said.
The officer, who has been on the force nine years, was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, but prosecutors said Sunday he had been treated and released.
Morocho had a misdemeanor drunken-driving violation in 2010 and a felony DWI in 2012, records show.
Morocho was going home after dropping a friend off in Patchogue, according to Assistant District Attorney Robert Spataro. The two had been drinking at a Speonk bar.
According to a felony complaint, Morocho told a police officer: “I had eight or nine beers, I don’t have a license, and I didn’t want to get in trouble.” He also initially showed false identification to police, the papers said.
Morocho’s lawyer, Norley Castañeda of Central Islip, said her client has lived for 10 years in Suffolk and worked in home construction for the past five months. She noted that a large contingent of his family, including his parents, were at the arraignment.
Castañeda had asked Suffolk County District Court Judge Jennifer Henry for bail that was “more reasonable” than what was requested by the district attorney’s office. But Henry, noting his record, set bail at the amount requested by Spataro. Henry said, “He was rather cavalier about his driving without a license.” Also, “it seems he had no intention” of answering for the accident given his attempt to flee the scene. Morocho’s family declined to comment.
In 2009, Morocho pleaded guilty to aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. In 2010 and 2012, he was convicted of drunken driving, and in 2014, he received jail time for operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock device.