Though nothing will bring him back, we hope that George Gibbons’ family can sleep a little easier at night knowing that the man responsible for his death will face the maximum sentence allowed under the law.
It was last October that Gibbons, 37, was killed heading home from work when the livery cab he was traveling in was struck by a Chrysler Sebring, allegedly driven by Peter Rodriguez, traveling the wrong way on the eastbound side of the Long Island Expressway service road.
Rodriguez, 37, of Brooklyn, and his passenger fled the scene, and the Gibbons family was left to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.
Not only did the grieving family have to deal with the tragic loss, but they had to carry on with the business, Gibbons’ Home bar in Maspeth.
Luckily, they were bolstered by the love of a community.
As Rodriguez remained on the lam, neighbors and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley rallied to find “Justice for George,” plastering wanted posters offering a $10,000 reward throughout Queens.
Two days after a rally in Maspeth, Rodriguez was apprehended in Connecticut by the U.S. Marshals New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force following an anonymous tip to the New York City Police Department’s Crime Stoppers hotline.
“In the coming months, we will continue to fight together to make sure that whoever chooses to leave the scene of a crime will face much stiffer penalties,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.
Now, six months later, Rodriguez has finally owned up to his crime, pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide and a felony violation of leaving the scene without reporting.
At his sentencing on May 7, Justice Chin-Brandt indicated that she would sentence Rodriguez to three-and-a-half to seven years in prison — the maximum allowed under the law.
“We will never be satisfied with the amount of time that he is realistically going to serve in jail,” said Bernadette Gibbons, George’s sister. “It is very unfortunate that career criminals like himself get away with multiple slaps on the wrist.”
We say Kudos — not only to Chin-Brandt for her execution of justice, but to whomever the anonymous, and very brave, tipster was.
There should be more courageous people out there who stand up, speak out and do what’s right.
Thanks to those who did, it seems that in this case, at least, the system worked, and “Justice for George” has been served.