Truck driver in fatal limo crash takes plea deal, avoids jail time

CENTRAL ISLIP -

The pickup truck driver charged in connection with a deadly limousine crash in Long Island wine country pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while ability impaired in a deal that will allow him to avoid jail time.

There were gasps in court after Judge Fernando Camacho gave Steven Romeo a conditional discharge, suspended his driver's license for 90 days and ordered a $500 fine plus court fees.

Romeo, of Southold, was charged with drunken driving after his red pickup slammed into a stretch limo in July 2015 as it made a U-turn on County Road 48 in Cutchogue.

The crash killed Brittney Schulman, 23, of Smithtown; Lauren Baruch, 24, of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park; and Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack.

Prosecutors said a blood test taken after about an hour after the crash revealed Romeo's blood-alcohol level was .06, below the .08 legal limit. However, the district attorney claimed it would have been over the limit at the time of the crash.

Assistant District Attorney John Prudenti said reconstructions of the crash proved the limo driver was at fault by making a U-turn and backing up. Romeo, according to Prudenti, could not have avoided hitting the limo.

The limo driver, Carlos Pinto, of Old Bethpage, was charged with criminally negligent homicide, but Judge Commacho dismissed those charges last December. Prosecutors said they would appeal that decision.

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