State Police Trooper Kevin Tunney, 33, of Kings Park, was indicted Thursday for allegedly committing perjury in connection with the 2017 arrest of a person for driving while intoxicated, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said.
Tunney, who joined the State Police in 2014, has been suspended. The charge against the motorist has been dropped.
Tunney was arraigned by Suffolk County acting Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho and released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court on Jan. 7.
If convicted of the top count, Tunney faces a maximum sentence of 2⅓ to seven years in prison.
Tunney had made the arrest in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store at 59 Bay Shore Road in Bay Shore and charged the person with driving while intoxicated, aggravated driving while intoxicated, and failure to maintain lane.
In the arrest paperwork, Tunney said he was driving his police vehicle on Bay Shore Road when he observed the defendant’s car driving directly in front of him, Sini said in a statement. Tunney said he saw the defendant’s car swerve over the center double yellow line in the road twice before it abruptly made a right turn into an exit-only driveway of the 7-Eleven parking lot.
On Jan. 18, 2019, Tunney testified as a witness during a pretrial hearing in the case in First District Court in Central Islip, recounting the same observations he made earlier.
But the District Attorney’s Office later reviewed surveillance footage from the 7-Eleven on the night of the arrest, which “showed Tunney was already inside the store when the defendant arrived, and therefore could not have followed the defendant on Bay Shore Road or observed any failure to maintain lane, as he had stated in the arrest paperwork and during his testimony in the case,” the DA’s Office said.
The footage also allegedly showed that the defendant had entered the parking lot through the appropriate entranceway, not through an exit-only driveway as Tunney stated. “After a thorough investigation, which included eyewitness interviews and a review of GPS records and other relevant evidence, the grand jury returned the charges set forth in the indictment,” the statement said.
Tunney’s attorney, John Scott Prudenti of Center Moriches, said in an email Thursday evening that Tunney lawfully arrested the driver.
"Not only did Trooper Tunney witness this persons intoxication but three other Suffolk County Police Officers personally witnessed her intoxication. The intoxicated defendant later took a breathalyzer test which indicated she was 2½ times the legal limit in New York," Prudenti said. "Trooper Tunney was acting upon a good faith belief after speaking with the Suffolk County Police Officers about the intoxicated motorists direction of travel just prior to her nearly striking a parked Suffolk County police car.”