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Guilty plea in fatal Medford crash

A Coram man pleaded guilty Tuesday to driving a Mercedes-Benz — with drugs and a loaded gun inside — through a red light in Medford, and causing a crash that killed another driver in January, Suffolk County prosecutors said.

Malcolm Stewart, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the crash, prosecutors said. Stewart is expected to face 15 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 3.

"This individual had been driving recklessly through the area, hitting speeds of up to 94 mph immediately before the crash," Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a statement.

"Not only did his actions result in a senseless tragedy, but he was also in possession of a loaded firearm and a significant quantity of drugs, including a mixture of heroin and fentanyl."

On Jan. 3, Stewart drove the 2014 Mercedes north on County Road 101 in the hamlet, when he struck a 2021 Chevrolet, driven by James Palumbo, of Yaphank, who was making a left turn onto Station Road, prosecutors said. Palumbo, 56, was taken to Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue, where he was pronounced deceased, prosecutors said.

Officers who arrived at the scene found Stewart had a .45 caliber handgun and 4.17 ounces of cocaine, 4.29 ounces of heroin and fentanyl, and .38 grams of oxycodone, prosecutors said.

Suffolk County police have said an officer was following Stewart at the time of the crash, after initially issuing a news release that made no mention of police involvement before the crash.

Stewart’s passenger, Savanna Steinbach, 23, of Shirley, was arrested on drug possession charges, police said. The case is pending, court records show,

Stewart’s lawyer, Steven Wilutis, of Miller Place, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday night.

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