A Northport man who was along for the ride when his uncle used a stolen car to run over and seriously injure a Suffolk police officer admitted in court Tuesday that he took part in a carjacking afterward.
Nicholas Franzone, 23, was charged along with his uncle, Chad Morizsan, 35, of Northport, with the Sept. 22, 2014, assault of Nicholas Guerrero, who was since been promoted to detective but has not yet returned to duty. They were in a Ford Explorer that Morizsan had stolen when Guerrero pulled it over in Huntington.
During the stop, while Franzone was in the backseat, Morizsan took off, hit Guerrero and left him in the street with a broken skull, several broken ribs, a collapsed lung and other injuries.
Franzone pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery, criminal possession of stolen property and other charges. The assault charge was dismissed as part of the plea deal with the Suffolk district attorney's office.
"This is a fair and just disposition," state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho said of the deal. In return for the plea, Camacho will sentence Franzone to 3 1/2 years in prison on Sept. 9. Last month Camacho sentenced Morizsan to 25 years after he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and other charges.
"I think it's a fair plea [deal] for his role," said defense attorney Ian Fitzgerald of Central Islip, adding that his client was grateful that Guerrero survived.
"Mr. Franzone didn't even know the officer was there," Fitzgerald said. "He didn't know the officer was hurt until the next day."
Guerrero said last month he is getting physical and occupational therapy, and is determined to return to work. He had to learn how to speak again, and still struggles with balance, memory and headaches. "There are good days and there are bad days," he said.
Morizsan and Franzone were arrested later that day. But first Morizsan stole gas, hit a car at the gas station, abandoned the stolen Explorer, carjacked a Toyota from an 87-year-old woman and bought a television at Target with her credit card.
The two were arrested there when they decided to take the television back because they wanted a bigger model, prosecutors said.