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New Cassel man faces Leandra’s Law charge, police say

Jhordy Melendez, 18, of New Cassel, was arrested

Jhordy Melendez, 18, of New Cassel, was arrested Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016, on charges including driving while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle after a highway patrol officer saw him talking on his cellphone and initiated a traffic stop in Hempstead, Nassau County police said. Credit: NCPD

A traffic stop involving a driver illegally using his cellphone led to a Leandra’s Law arrest early Wednesday in Hempstead, Nassau County police said.

Police said the driver, identified as Jhordy Melendez, 18, of Elizabeth Street, New Cassel, didn’t have permission to use the vehicle, a 2009 Nissan Rogue. He was arrested and charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated under Leandra’s Law, driving while intoxicated, third-degree unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle while on a cellphone and with endangering the welfare of a child.

He is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday in First District Court in Hempstead.

Police said a highway patrol officer spotted Melendez talking on his cellphone while driving the Rogue on eastbound Fulton Avenue in Hempstead at 4:10 a.m. — and instituted a traffic stop. During the subsequent investigation, police said, the officer determined Melendez was intoxicated and that he was using the vehicle without the owner’s permission. It was not clear who owned the Rogue.

Police said that in addition to those issues, the officer determined that a front-seat passenger, a boy, was 14. Police said the boy, who was not injured, was released to a family member.

Leandra’s Law is named for 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed in 2009 when a car she was riding in, driven by a drunken driver, overturned on the Henry Hudson Parkway. Six other girls in the car, all of whom were attending a sleepover party, were injured. The driver, Carmen Huertas, was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison. Leandra’s Law makes it a felony, even on first offense, to drive drunk with a child under age 16 in the vehicle.

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