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Top Stories 2016: Charges dismissed against limo driver

Limo Driver Charged in Fatal Limo Crash

This year, charges of criminally negligent homicide were brought, and later dismissed, against the limousine driver involved in the 2015 Cutchogue crash that killed four young women and injured four others.

Bethpage resident Carlos Pino, 59, was indicted in March on felony criminally negligent homicide charges, as well as misdemeanors for reckless driving and assault, after a Suffolk County grand jury determined that his decision to attempt a U-turn on Route 48 caused the fatal collision.

Mr. Pino’s defense attorney, however, argued that the charges should be invalidated because prosecutors improperly presented evidence to the grand jury. In October, Suffolk County judge Fernando Camacho agreed. After speaking to the victims’ grief-stricken families, he dismissed the charges.

“[Prosecutors] knew all along that this was not a criminal case,” defense attorney Leonard Lato of Hauppauge said at the time. “But rather than have the integrity to tell that to the families of the four girls who died and [those] who survived, they went ahead and made a bad presentation.”

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said his office will appeal the judge’s decision, adding there was “no evidence” the grand jury was confused by the prosecutor’s presentation.

A misdemeanor drunken driving charge is still pending against the other driver in the crash, business owner Steven Romeo of Peconic. He’s due to appear in court next year and is likely to accept a plea deal, according to the court.

A 156-page special grand jury report was released Dec. 20 related to the crash, which detailed recommendations such as a statewide ban on U-turns by limousines operating with nine or more occupants. The report also said the traffic light at the intersection is “inadequate.”

File photo: Carlos Pino, right, at his arraignment with attorney Brendan Ahern. (Credit: James Carbone/Newsday pool photo)