A former Suffolk police officer pleaded guilty Monday to killing a man by driving drunk the wrong way on Sunrise Highway in West Islip.
The Sept. 27, 2016, crash came after Robert Scheuerer drank 10 pints of beer and a mixed drink, prosecutors said. In return for the guilty plea to aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges, state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho promised to sentence Robert Scheuerer, 26, of Farmingdale, to 3 to 9 years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Marc Lindemann recommended a sentence of 4 to 12 years. The maximum Scheuerer faced was 8 1⁄3 to 25 years.
Scheuerer was fired by the Suffolk County Police Department in January after he was indicted. He’d been on the force for about a year.
After Scheuerer’s sport utility vehicle hit Brian Fusaro’s van head-on, the van exploded. Fusaro, 37, of Bay Shore, was trapped inside and killed.
Lindemann said the case was strong.
“We had something we don’t normally have, which is the defendant on video drinking 10 pints of beer and a mixed drink” before he started driving, Lindemann said. He declined to name the bar where this happened, but then-District Attorney Thomas Spota had said that Scheuerer was drinking for almost five hours with fellow officers from the Third Precinct in Bay Shore, where he had been assigned.
Scheuerer went west in the eastbound lanes for about two miles, prosecutors have said. More than an hour after the crash, his blood-alcohol content was 0.17 percent, leading prosecutors to believe it was even higher when the crash happened. The legal threshold is 0.08 percent.
Defense attorney William Petrillo said the plea was the result of “many hours of hard work and extensive negotiations.”
He said his client, who lost a leg in the crash, “is as remorseful as one can be and has fully accepted responsibility.”
Scheuerer will remain free on bail of $250,000 bond until he is sentenced on Jan. 18.
Scheurer’s plea came days after a Sound Beach man was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison in a similar case. Christopher O’Brien, 56, also drove drunk the wrong way on Sunrise Highway when he hit and killed Thomas D’Eletto, 57, of Aquebogue.
Lindemann, who also prosecuted O’Brien, said O’Brien drove recklessly for a longer period of time before he even got on Sunrise Highway. And unlike Scheurer, O’Brien seemed to “track” or aim at other motorists as he ran them off the road before the crash, those drivers testified at his trial.
“That was not the case here,” in the Scheuerer case, Lindemann said.