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Lawyer convicted of manslaughter in fatal crash sentenced to 1 to 3 years

Raj Jadeja, 36, of Brooklyn leaves the Nassau

Raj Jadeja, 36, of Brooklyn leaves the Nassau County court in Mineola after being arraigned on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. Jadeja pleaded guilty Thursday, March 16, 2017, to manslaughter after a 2015 drunken driving crash that killed a 21-year-old motorist, court records show. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The stepfather of a 21-year-old man who died after a drunken lawyer hit the victim’s car on the Long Island Expressway told the motorist Thursday he “destroyed a family” and gave grieving relatives “a life sentence.”

“I hope your life will never be the same knowing that it was written ‘thou shall not kill’ and you did,” Steven Bottega, 55, told Raj Jadeja, 36, of Brooklyn.

A judge then sent Jadeja to prison for 1 to 3 years for causing the death of Bottega’s stepson, George Ragotte of Lake Ronkonkoma.

In March, Jadeja pleaded guilty to manslaughter, assault and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in connection with the Sept. 19, 2015, Plainview crash that killed the young car mechanic.

Ragotte was driving home from his girlfriend’s house at 2:13 a.m. when authorities said he slowed to avoid one crash on the LIE’s eastbound side and Jadeja’s 2012 BMW sedan rear-ended his 1992 BMW sedan. Ragotte died hours later at a hospital.

“Our family is broken because our little boy is gone. Never another phone call. Never another ‘I love you,’ ” Ragotte’s stepfather said, while also decrying Jadeja’s sentence as too lenient.

The Nassau district attorney’s office agreed to the sentence after a plea bargain. A prosecutor Thursday referenced information from the black box of a vehicle as playing a role in that decision.

Jadeja’s attorney, Steven Epstein, said the black box from a car involved in the initial crash, driven by Paul Castiglione, 23, of Deer Park, showed later he’d been traveling at 105 mph.

But Epstein said Castiglione testified before a grand jury he hadn’t been speeding and got immunity from prosecution in Ragotte’s death by testifying.

Epstein also said prosecutors now should charge Castiglione — who said he suffered a broken leg and jaw because of Jajeda’s actions — with perjury.

Authorities have said Castiglione’s vehicle and another vehicle had sideswiped each other near Exit 46 in the first crash, and that Castiglione was outside his disabled car when he was seriously injured because of Jadeja.

Castiglione said Thursday he knew in his heart “he was not going that fast,” and added: “No matter how fast I was going . . . I didn’t kill George . . . The accident was turned to a tragedy because of Raj.”

Epstein said his client, who had practiced immigration law out of a Hempstead office but lost his law license due to his conviction, had accepted responsibility for his part in the crash and offered “his condolences and his sincerest feelings of remorse.” The district attorney’s office declined to comment.

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