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Dowling College CFO Ralph Cerullo Jr. pleads guilty to felony in wrong-way crash

Dowling College Chief Financial Officer Ralph S. Cerullo

Dowling College Chief Financial Officer Ralph S. Cerullo Jr.has pleaded guilty to felony reckless endangerment, more than four years after being arrested for driving the wrong way on Sunrise Highway at speeds topping 100 mph. Photo Credit: Handout

Dowling College's chief financial officer has pleaded guilty to felony reckless endangerment, more than four years after being arrested for driving the wrong way on Sunrise Highway at speeds topping 100 mph.

Ralph S. Cerullo Jr., 59, of East Setauket, entered the plea on March 23 before Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen L. Braslow in Riverhead, according to court papers.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss several additional charges, including drunken driving and fleeing police.

It wasn't immediately known whether both sides have agreed on a recommended sentence. First-degree reckless endangerment is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for April 27.

Cerullo had to be forced off the highway in the Town of Islip shortly after midnight on Dec. 3, 2010, after driving several miles west in the eastbound lanes, authorities said.

Police said alarmed motorists made 13 calls to 911 to report a wrong-way driver. Sheriff's deputies stopped Cerullo's Dowling-issued Infiniti G35 by blocking the car's path with patrol vehicles near Exit 49 in the Bohemia area.

The vehicle veered onto a grassy median and struck a guardrail, police said. No other crashes or injuries were reported.

Afterward, Cerullo, who had trouble standing and smelled of alcohol, failed field sobriety tests, authorities said.

Cerullo had been at a Dowling holiday party at the Bellport Country Club the night of Dec. 2, 2010, a university spokesman said at the time.

Cerullo's attorney, William J. Keahon of Hauppauge, declined to comment on the plea deal Thursday. Calls to Cerullo's office were not returned.

Dowling College said it is reviewing the court proceedings and Cerullo's plea, and will "take an appropriate course of action" after the sentencing.

Officials declined to provide any details about Cerullo's status with the school.

Cerullo has served as the Oakdale-based college's chief financial officer since June 2010, officials said previously. He is listed on Dowling's faculty and staff page and on his LinkedIn page as the school's chief financial officer and treasurer.

At the time of the incident, Cerullo had a clean driving record, police said.

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