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DA Rice Renews Call for Higher Penalties in Hit-and-Run Crashes

LongIsland.com

Retired police officer sentenced today in hit-and-run that left teenage girl dead.

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Mineola, NY - October 16, 2014 - Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said that a retired NYPD Officer indicted in a hit-and-run pedestrian collision that left 13-year-old Bryanna Soplin dead was sentenced to prison today, and that the law should be reformed to increase penalties in such cases.

Michael Elardo, 48, of Syosset, was sentenced today to 1-1/3 to 4 years in prison by Nassau County Court Judge Jerald Carter, who referred to young Bryanna as an ”angel” watching over her family. In August, Elardo pleaded guilty to the sole charge he was indicted on, Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Incident Without Reporting. In court, Elardo admitted knowing that he struck a person when he left the scene.

Prosecutors recommended the maximum sentence for this D felony, 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison. DA Rice has long fought for legislation to upgrade this crime to a C felony carrying a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison, and again renewed the call for the reform today.

“It’s not enough for drivers to apologize after leaving the scene – the law needs to change to discourage drivers from fleeing in the first place,” DA Rice said.  “A driver who flees the scene of a collision should not benefit from that flight.  Right now a driver may face lower charges because he has prevented a full investigation and I support Bryanna’s family’s call to increase these penalties.”

About two minutes after midnight on June 15, Elardo drove a minivan on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown and struck and killed Bryanna Soplin as she crossed the street. Elardo then left the scene without stopping. Elardo surrendered for arrest by the Nassau County Police Department approximately 42 hours later, on June 16.

Assistant District Attorneys Michael Bushwack and Gene Kang of DA Rice’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau are prosecuting the case. Elardo is represented by Michael DerGarabedian, Esq.