Relatives of some of the five teenagers who lost their lives in a 2014 Farmingdale street-racing crash expressed outrage Thursday as the teenage driver charged in the case pleaded guilty in exchange for a six-month jail sentence.
Cory Gloe, 19, of Farmingdale, admitted in Nassau County Court that he caused the deaths while racing another young driver on May 10, 2014.
Authorities said that driver, Tristan Reichle, 17, lost control and crashed into a separate vehicle in oncoming traffic, seriously injuring its two occupants, and killing everyone in his car.
Besides Reichle, the victims were: Jesse Romero, 18; Carly Lonnborg, 14; Noah Francis, 15; and Cody Talanian, 17. All had been Farmingdale High School students, then or in the past.
“This is a broken system,” Carly’s uncle, Mark McGlone, said after the sentencing, calling the jail term “a slap on the wrist.”
“I don’t think that this kid’s life should be destroyed. But what kind of message are they sending to these other kids out there?” McGlone asked.
Noah’s sister, Celeste Tziamihas, said she knew nothing would bring her little brother back.
“But I just wish there was a little bit more justice for what we’ve lost,” she said. “We suffer every single day, and we will for the rest of our lives.”
Gloe admitted to a 17-count indictment that included five counts of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, along with charges of assault, leaving an accident scene and other offenses.
Prosecutors have said Gloe, driving a 2008 Toyota Scion, goaded Reichle, who was behind the wheel of a 2001 Nissan Sentra, into drag-racing while stopped at a traffic light at Route 110 and Conklin Street.
Authorities said the race started just after midnight and lasted less than a mile before Reichle lost control, crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a 2011 GMC Terrain.
Authorities said the sport utility vehicle’s occupants, Mingaila and Gloriajean Milas, suffered serious injuries that required multiple surgeries. Gloe’s car never made contact with Reichle’s car or the SUV, according to authorities.
Gloe was 17 at the time of crash and had faced up to 5 to 15 years in prison on the top count against him.
But acting State Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy said Thursday he planned to sentence Gloe as a youthful offender under the plea, meaning he wouldn’t have a criminal record as an adult.
Authorities said youthful offender status — which the district attorney’s office opposed — also dropped the maximum penalty for Gloe’s top charge to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.
The judge, who offered condolences to the victims’ families, said he will sentence Gloe on May 20 to six months in jail and five years of probation.
The judge told Gloe that the purpose of youthful offender status “notwithstanding the serious nature of the charges against you, is not to stigmatize you with a criminal record that was triggered by hasty or thoughtless actions. Although criminal in nature, they are not the serious deeds of a hardened criminal.”
Defense attorney Stephen LaMagna had previously argued that the crash was Reichle’s fault because he was an inexperienced driver who had a blood-alcohol content of 0.07 percent. Under state law, a 17-year-old driver with such a blood-alcohol content would be legally impaired, authorities said.
A toxicology report previously obtained by Newsday also showed Reichle had used marijuana, but it wasn’t clear whether the drug was active in his system at the time of the crash.
LaMagna also had said documents provided by authorities showed all four passengers who died in Reichle’s car “were also impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.” Authorities recovered a crack pipe, an unspecified amount of heroin and a bottle of whiskey either on Reichle’s passengers or in his car, the defense attorney wrote in court papers.
Gloe didn’t comment when leaving court Thursday with his attorney, who said his client had “taken full responsibility for his role.”
“We are hopeful that the beginning of the healing process can begin for all of the people involved,” LaMagna said.
District Attorney Madeline Singas released a statement saying “the senseless heartbreak” of a crash was “completely preventable.”