One year after a Smithtown mother of two was killed while driving to work, her family and friends fear that the man who prosecutors say was drunk when he smashed his truck into her car will get a light prison sentence.
The family of Karen Naclerio-Negrin, who died a year ago Friday, has organized a letter-writing campaign to persuade Suffolk County Judge James F.X. Doyle to impose the toughest possible sentence on John C. Harnage III, 44, of Smithtown.
Free on bond
Harnage, who is free on $300,000 bond, faces several charges stemming from the crash - including second-degree manslaughter and aggravated vehicular homicide.
Lorraine Schwartz, Naclerio-Negrin's sister, said prosecutors told the family that Doyle may sentence Harnage to 3 years to 9 years in prison if he pleads guilty.
"We're just outraged that he would consider giving him such a low sentence," said Schwartz, 39, of St. James.
District Attorney Thomas Spota's office, in a statement, said it would ask Doyle to give Harnage up to 15 years.
Naclerio-Negrin was 43 when she was killed in the crash on Route 25A in Smithtown, only a short distance from her home. She left a husband, Robert; two daughters, Julia, 9, and Sarah, 6; her mother, Anna Naclerio, 70, of Smithtown; and her twin sisters, Schwartz and Linda Lupo of Commack. Robert Negrin declined to comment Thursday.
Friday, Naclerio-Negrin's family will visit her grave at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.
"It's been a tough year altogether and a very difficult week," Schwartz said. "We flooded the judge with letters from friends and family, hoping that will deter him from giving [Harnage] any leniency."
Naclerio-Negrin, an American Airlines ticket agent, was driving to work at LaGuardia Airport about 3:30 a.m. on April 2, 2009, when her 1992 Volvo collided with Harnage's 2003 pickup truck, Suffolk police said at the time. She died at the scene.
Harnage is also charged with reckless driving, first-degree vehicular homicide, driving while intoxicated and driving while ability impaired.
Defendant in court
Harnage was in court Thursday for a routine appearance. The mortgage broker walked past reporters without speaking. His next court date is April 12. His attorney, Ray Perini of Hauppauge, acknowledged that a plea bargain is being discussed with the possible 3-to-9-year term. He noted the judge could impose a sentence of 5 to 15 years. He said Harnage has received alcohol counseling and no longer drives.
"This man knows this is a terrible tragedy," Perini said. "No one is talking about a slap on the wrist."