A former New York State trooper from Kings Park has pleaded guilty to a single perjury charge for falsely testifying in a 2017 drunken driving case, Suffolk prosecutors said Tuesday.
Kevin Tunney, 34, pleaded guilty to first-degree perjury, a felony, and resigned from the department on April 30 as part of his plea agreement, according to a news release from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
"Any time a police officer breaks the laws that he is sworn to uphold, it undermines the integrity of the entire criminal justice system," Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a statement. "At its core, law enforcement’s job is to seek the truth in each case and to determine just outcomes based solely upon the evidence. That was not done here. My office will continue to hold anyone who breaks the law accountable — no exceptions."
Tunney, who joined the state troopers in 2014, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28.
Tunney’s attorney Edward Sapone said Tuesday in a text message: "After having served two tours of active combat in Afghanistan and having been a NYS Trooper, Kevin has taken the appropriate step of accepting full responsibility. He looks forward to getting sentenced and beginning a new chapter in his life."
The state police also did not immediately respond to a message.
Prosecutors allege that on Nov. 1, 2017, Tunney arrested someone in the parking lot of a Bay Shore 7-Eleven store and charged the person with driving while intoxicated, aggravated DWI and failure to maintain lane. In the arrest paperwork that Tunney filled out, he falsely said he was driving behind the alleged drunken driver, whose name was not released, and saw the car swerve over the center double line and make an abrupt right turn into an exit-only driveway of the 7-Eleven’s parking lot.
In addition to the claims Tunney made in his arrest report, he also testified to those statements on Jan. 18, 2019 during a pretrial hearing in First District Court in Central Islip, prosecutors said.
But when the district attorney’s office reviewed surveillance footage from the 7-Eleven on the night of the arrest, it showed that Tunney was already inside the store when the alleged drunken driver arrived, and therefore Tuney could not have followed the driver on Bay Shore Road or observed the driver failing to stay in their lane, prosecutors said.
The footage also showed that the individual had entered the parking lot through the appropriate entranceway, not through an exit-only driveway as Tunney testified.
Prosecutors did not reveal Tunney’s motive for lying. Charges against the person arrested by Tunney were dismissed. The District Attorney’s office said it conducted a review of all its previous prosecutions in which Tunney was a witness or potential witness and "found no evidence of additional misconduct."