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Long IslandCrime

Levittown man pleads guilty in pedestrian’s death, records show

Nassau County police investigate the scene of a

Nassau County police investigate the scene of a fatal accident on Hempstead Turnpike and Gardiners Avenue in Levittown on Tuesday morning, April 22, 2014. Credit: Jim Staubitser

A Levittown man has pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and drunken-driving charges in the 2014 death of an 81-year-old pedestrian, court records show.

Authorities had alleged James Taggart Jr., 45, was driving drunk in April 2014 when his car hit and killed victim Robert Chapman Sr., of Bethpage, as the man tried to cross Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown.

Taggart entered his plea Thursday in Nassau County Court in Mineola.

State Supreme Court Justice Angelo Delligatti gave Taggart sentence commitment of 1 year behind bars and 5 years of probation as part of the plea, according to Taggart’s attorney, William Petrillo of Garden City.

Chapman died after he got off a bus and was walking to work at a nearby food store, where he stocked shelves and bagged groceries. The April 22, 2014, accident happened about 5:45 a.m. west of Gardiners Avenue, authorities have said.

Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas released a statement Friday calling Chapman “a beloved senior member of the community” whose death was a “heartbreaking reminder . . . that drunk driving has real consequences.”

The defense previously argued it was an “unavoidable accident on a dangerous road,” and Taggart, a sheet metal worker and Navy veteran, hadn’t been intoxicated and had called 911.

On Friday, Petrillo called his client “genuinely remorseful,” saying Taggart has “continually expressed heartfelt concern for the victim’s family and did not want to expose either family to an emotional trial.”

Authorities also investigated after the accident whether Taggart’s sister, Karen Taggart, a county employee and attorney for Nassau’s police force, interfered at the deadly crash scene where police arrested her brother.

It wasn’t clear Friday if that police internal affairs probe had been resolved.


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