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Cops accused of impeding DWI probe await verdict

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A verdict is pending in last week’s Police Department trial of two detectives who allegedly prevented Queens Assistant District Attorney Joshua Mandel from interviewing a detective from the 105th Precinct involved in a fatal Queens Village automobile accident.

Detective Michael Failla and Detective Rick Tirelli were on trial for allegedly interfering with Mandel when he tried to interview Detective Robert Bolson after an accident in which a Queens Village man was killed, a law enforcement official said. The trial took place April 8 and April 9 at One Police Plaza in Manhattan.

The official said the decision on the verdict has been reserved and is expected to be handed down in three to six months.

Failla’s attorney, Marvyn Kornberg, said he did not know when the judgment would be made.

Bolson, a veteran Queens detective from the 105th Precinct, had been on modified duty stemming from the fatal accident, which occurred on April 26, 1998. Off-duty Bolson broadsided Federico Hurtado, who was returning home with his wife Hilde, at 222nd Street and 93rd Avenue in Queens Village. The crash killed Hurtado and critically injured his wife.

Bolson, 40, was returned to active duty by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly Friday, after completing a 40-day suspension, his lawyer, Kornberg, has said. Bolson had been on modified duty since the accident in which he was accused of driving while drunk.

State Supreme Court Justice Seymour Rotker cleared the 15-year Police Department veteran June 21, 2001 of manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, assault, vehicular assault and criminally negligent homicide in the accident.

In the non-jury trial, Rotker decided Bolson was not guilty of the serious charges of vehicular manslaughter because it could not be proven that there was a cause-and-effect relationship between Bolson’s drinking and the way he operated his car.

Bolson was found guilty of common-law driving while intoxicated, which means that someone smelled alcohol on his breath or he appeared to have been drinking, but it was not proven through chemical analysis.

According to the law enforcement official, Kornberg wanted to subpoena Queens District Attorney Richard Brown to testify, but the judge turned him down. Brown had gone to North Shore Hospital, where Bolson was taken, after the accident.

Mandel went to the hospital after the accident and when he attempted to talk to Bolson, police officers allegedly prevented him from doing so.

The district attorney’s office did not comment on the case.

The official said the trial was to determine if the two officers had committed official misconduct by preventing the assistant district attorney from talking to Bolson.

Kornberg said his client “did nothing” to prevent the DA from speaking to Bolson.

A police lieutenant and a fourth detective were also involved in the incident, but their roles were unclear.

Lt. Stephen Camardese, the official said, pleaded guilty and received a 12-day suspension. In addition, the official said charges against another officer, Detective Michael Zampella, who retired with a full pension, were still pending.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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