Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Former Linden, New Jersey police officer Pedro Abad received a sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison Wednesday for driving drunk and speeding in a wrong-way crash that killed a fellow officer and another man.

A former New Jersey police officer received a sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison Wednesday for driving drunk in a wrong-way crash that killed a fellow officer and another man.

Pedro Abad worked for the Linden Police Department in 2015 when he crashed into a tractor-trailer after a night at a Staten Island strip club with friends.

"This sentence ensures Mr. Abad is held accountable for the lives he destroyed when he decided to get behind the wheel and drive drunk," District Attorney Michael McMahon said. "My thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of all the victims affected by this tragedy."

Abad veered onto the other side of the West Shore Expressway and hit an oncoming truck just after 4:30 a.m., killing fellow Linden officer Frank Viggiano and Linden resident Joseph Rodriguez. Another officer in the car, Patrick Kudlac, was seriously injured.

Abad was convicted in May of aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, manslaughter and other charges.

He spoke before the court, apologizing and admitting he should not have gotten in the vehicle. He requested a minimum sentence of a year behind bars, but the judge showed no mercy, sentencing him to the maximum.

"You have no idea of the magnitude of what you did," Judge Mario Mattei told Abad. "You weren't an accident waiting to happen. You were a time bomb waiting to explode."

Prosecutors said Abad was intoxicated and driving 73 miles per hour when he plowed head-on into the truck.

Rodriguez's father would not refer to Abad by name during the trial, but did so after sentencing.

"To Pedro: You took the most precious thing from a parent - you took my precious little boy from me," he said.

Kudlac testified against Abad during the trial, describing the rounds of drinks, the whiskey shots and the strip club. He was asleep in the back seat seconds before the crash.

Earlier that evening, Abad and Kudlac had gone to Central Park, a bar and restaurant in New Jersey, and drank whiskey before joining up with Rodriguez and Viggiano. From there, the group drove to Curves gentleman's club on Staten Island, arriving at 2:21 a.m.

Credit card receipts from that evening showed Abad had purchased numerous alcoholic beverages for himself and others throughout the night. A blood sample revealed Abad had a blood-alcohol content of .24 -- three times the legal limit -- following the crash. A paramedic who treated Abad on scene also testified that he had a very strong odor of alcohol.

Abad had two drunken-driving arrests before the fatal crash: one from a 2011 accident in Roselle, New Jersey, after he allegedly drove through the wall of a convenience store; the other in 2013 after he struck a parked car in Rahway, New Jersey. The 2011 charge was later dismissed.  Corrupt judges and prosecutors are to blame for that.