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Long IslandCrime

Family of victim in fatal drunken driving case speaks at Elmont woman's sentencing

Michael Saudo, who died in a February 2019

Michael Saudo, who died in a February 2019 drunken-driving crash in Elmont. Credit: Courtesy Lisa Pfeifer

A driver who caused a deadly Elmont wreck while speeding home from a party drunk will spend up to a decade in prison after killing a former volunteer fire captain who was heading home from his bakery job.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Francis Ricigliano on Tuesday sentenced Julie Debrosse to 7 to 10 years in prison following the February 2019 wreck that killed Michael Saudo, 65.

Earlier this year, Debrosse, 31, of Elmont, pleaded guilty to felony charges of second-degree manslaughter and assault, along with a misdemeanor DWI charge.

Tuesday’s proceeding in Nassau County Court included a Skype connection through which one of Saudo’s three daughters and his girlfriend spoke about the impact of his death.

His daughter, Lisa Pfeifer, pointed to what she called the "tragic irony" of losing her father in a drunken driving crash after he had abused alcohol years earlier in his life before rehabilitating.

"I lost my father to alcohol as a kid and finally was working on a relationship that was special only to lose him again to alcohol as an adult. But this time it wasn’t his fault," the 44-year-old nurse said.

Saudo, who prosecutors said had served as a rescue captain in Elmont’s Fire Department, volunteered there for 15 years, according to Pfeifer.

She also described the Elmont native as a doting grandfather of six who fussed about getting her children the best birthday gifts "even though he had very little." He had an overnight bread route for Sapienza bakery, the daughter said.

Pfeifer also recalled Saudo’s "infectious cackle" and shared how their last text message exchange was about an order for Girl Scout cookies he had placed with her daughter.

Saudo’s girlfriend, Erin Reynolds, said he had loved fishing and the Yankees. She said Saudo asked her before leaving their home for his bakery route hours before the wreck if she wanted to accompany him.

"But I told him it was too cold out and I didn’t want to sit in the car. He said ‘OK, I’ll see you in the morning,’" Reynolds remembered.

Prosecutors said Saudo had been driving home from work at 3:10 a.m. on Feb. 17, 2019, when Debrosse’s vehicle hit his as she drove 88 mph in a 30-mph zone.

Her blood alcohol concentration was .14% — above the .08% legal threshold for intoxication — about 90 minutes after the wreck at Meacham Avenue and B Street, according to authorities.

Debrosse was going north on Meacham when her 2017 Honda Civic hit Saudo’s 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier in the driver’s side door as he was turning south onto the avenue from B Street, according to authorities.

Debrosse said Tuesday she was ashamed of her actions.

"I had no right to drive that night after drinking," she added. " I know that my words today cannot change what happened that night, but I want his family and my family to know how deeply sorry I am for what I did."

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