A former Suffolk police officer who admitted driving drunk in a fatal wrong-way crash in West Islip vowed at his sentencing Monday to work to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Robert Scheuerer, addressing the court in Central Islip and members of the victim's family, said he accepts full responsibility for the 2016 crash that killed Brian Fusaro, 37, of Bay Shore.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it,” said Scheuerer, 27, of Farmingdale, adding that the leg he lost in the crash also serves as a reminder. “Nothing I can say will bring him back, but I will do everything I can to make sure it won’t happen in the future."
Afterward, State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho sentenced Scheuerer to three to nine years in prison, a reduction in return for his guilty plea to aggravated vehicular homicide.
Scheuerer admitted he was drunk when he crashed head-on into a van driven by Fusaro. The van exploded and Fusaro burned to death.
Although his sentence had not yet been imposed, Scheuerer began serving his term in January 2018.
Camacho became visually emotional as he sentenced the former cop.
“Every day, for the rest of your life, every waking moment, in honor of Brian Fusaro, share your story,” Camacho said. “If you share your story, it will save lives."
The crash came after Scheuerer drank 10 pints of beer and a mixed drink on Sept. 27, 2016, then drove west in the eastbound lanes of Sunrise Highway, Assistant District Attorney Marc Lindemann said previously. Fusaro’s family and Lindemann declined to comment following the sentencing.
Scheuerer pleaded guilty in December 2017 and faced a maximum sentence of 8 ⅓ to 25 years. Lindemann had recommended 4 to 12 years because of the plea.
Scheuerer, who had been on the force for about a year at the time of the crash, was fired after he was indicted. He surrendered in a Central Islip courtroom on Jan. 18, 2018.
Camacho told of receiving numerous letters from Scheuerer's family and friends, vouching for his character, as well as many statements from those impacted by Fusaro's death, making for a difficult decision. Before the crash, Scheuerer did "everything right," Camacho said.
He was a "star athlete, model student, hero cop, loyal friend . . . the best of the best," Camacho said. "How do you reconcile that picture with the man who got behind the wheel of the car and took the life of Brian Fusaro?"
Lindemann urged the court not to give Scheuerer special treatment.
“Yes, he did lead a blameless life prior to the crash," Lindemann told Camacho during the hearing. "However, the mission of the Suffolk County Police Department is to serve and protect the community.”
Scheuerer's attorney, Edward Sapone, argued that his client should be given a second chance and the opportunity to educate others about the consequences of drinking and driving.
Scheuerer also was sentenced to one to three years on the charge of second-degree manslaughter, one year on the second-degree reckless endangerment charge, one year on the aggravated driving while intoxicated charge, and six months on the reckless driving charge. All will be served concurrently.
"I think Robert Scheuerer deserves much credit for accepting full responsibility," Sapone told members of the news media after the sentencing. "I think the sentence imposed will give him the opportunity to continue to help people."