James OConnor, 47, of Long Island, pleaded...
By Alexander Dworkowitz
A former captain in the Police Department reached a plea deal in which he admitted to killing a construction worker while driving drunk on the Throgs Neck Bridge, the Queens district attorney said Monday.
James OConnor, 47, of Long Island, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the second degree in front of State Supreme Court Judge Robert Hanophy in Kew Gardens.
Hanophy indicated he plans to sentence OConnor to up to three years in prison on Sept. 16.
Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal recommended a sentence of three to nine years.
On the night of Oct. 20, 1999, OConnor, who had been promoted to the departments Internal Affairs Bureau, left a party in the Bronx in an NYPD vehicle on the way to Queens to pick up a private car, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
As he crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge at about 12:40 a.m., OConnor drove into a closed construction lane on the bridge, the DA said.
Afif Hazim, 52, a construction worker and Syrian immigrant, was removing asphalt from the road for resurfacing when OConnors car struck and killed him, Brown said.
Afterwards tests showed that OConnors blood alcohol level was .12, above the legal limit of .10 at the time, the district attorney said.
The defendant, a career police commander with a promising future, has admitted his guilt to a terrible and tragic crime, said Brown in a statement.
The case fell under the jurisdiction of the Queens district attorney because the accident occurred on the Queens side of the bridge.
OConnor officially resigned Friday from his position at the NYPD. He also lost his pension.
Hes no longer a member of the department, said Detective Kevin Czartoryski, a spokesman for the NYPD.
Czartoryski said the 18-year veteran could never join the force again.
OConnors plea deal comes after the recent conviction of Joseph Gray, the police officer who killed a family while driving drunk in Brooklyn last year.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has since announced his department is cracking down on officers who are found to be driving while drunk.
The plea bargain deal did not sit well with Hazims family, the Daily News reported.
This is not justice, the paper reported Hazims wife, Jamileh, as saying. This is not America.
Michael Dowd, OConnors lawyer, did not return phone calls for comment.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2002 Community News Group
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