A PSEG Long Island worker has been sentenced to 140 hours of community service in connection with a 2014 car accident in Flanders that resulted in the death of a Hampton Bays woman, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Michael Pepe, 55, formerly of Bayport, had been indicted on three counts — criminally negligent homicide, reckless driving, and use of a portable electronic device while driving — in the death of Barbara Ann Tocci, 47, of Hampton Bays.
Suffolk prosecutors had said Pepe’s texting with his girlfriend was criminally negligent, but on Aug. 23, 2015, Justice Fernando Camacho dismissed the criminally negligent homicide charge. In doing so, the judge noted that, on the morning of the crash, Pepe’s last outgoing text occurred at 7:52 a.m. An unopened incoming message came into his phone at 7:53 a.m. The first 911 call about the crash came in at 7:57 a.m.
Given the timing of the texts, the Suffolk County district attorney’s office said in a statement, Camacho ruled that there was no evidence “that the defendant was texting, reading or talking on his personal cellular phone at the time of the accident.”
The road Pepe was traveling on was riddled with deep potholes that he blamed for the loss of control of his utility truck which prosecutors said collided with the Ford Explorer driven by Tocci on Jan. 16, 2014.
The Suffolk County district attorney’s office said the top count remaining against Pepe is reckless driving, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 30 days incarceration.
“To resolve this case, the defendant will complete the community service alternative to 30 days of incarceration: 140 hours of community service,” prosecutors said Wednesday in a statement. “As a requirement of this resolution, the defendant will complete this community service by participating in anti-distracted-driving efforts through M.A.D.D., local government agencies, and at local schools.”
When the community service is completed, the remaining two counts against Pepe will be dismissed. He returns to court Sept. 20.
Camacho on Tuesday praised prosecutors for obtaining a “fair and reasonable” resolution to the case.
The victim’s sister, Susan Tocci, 47, addressed the defendant in open court, telling him “to use his community service to save someone’s life,” prosecutors said.