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Deadly Driver Pays Price

Pleads Guilty To Maspeth Hit-And-Run

A Brooklyn man pled guilty last Friday, Apr. 20, for his role in the deadly hit-and-run accident last October in Maspeth which claimed the life of a popular neighborhood bar owner, law enforcement sources announced.

Peter Rodriguez

Peter Rodriguez, 37, of DeSales Place in Bushwick admitted to charges of criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident without reporting during a hearing in Queens Criminal Court last Friday before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt.

Sentencing is scheduled to take place on May 7, and Rodriguez faces between 3 1/2 and seven years behind bars for causing the Oct. 15, 2011 head-on collision on the Long Island Expressway service road in Maspeth which killed 37-year-old George Gibbons, the owner of The Gibbons Home tavern on 69th Street in Maspeth.

“No amount of words can undo the damage or pain that [Rodriguez] has caused,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement last Friday. “Hopefully this guilty plea will give some measure of solace to the victim’s family and will serve as a measure of justice for a senseless death. The sentence to be imposed-the maximum sentence allowed under the law-is appropriate based on the provable facts.”

As previously reported, the crash occurred at around 6:40 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2011 along the eastbound Queens Midtown Expressway near 58th Road.

Law enforcement sources said Gibbons was riding in the rear of a black 2003 Lincoln livery cab operated by a 59-year-old man traveling eastbound on the roadway when Rodriguez, who was operating a 2002 gray Chrysler Sebring and accompanied by a passenger, was traveling the wrong way westbound on the service road at speeds over the 30 mph speed limit.

Rodriguez’s ride then collided head-on with the taxi cab. Prosecutors said the force of the crash caused Gibbons to be thrown from the rear of the vehicle into the dashboard.

Following the collision, police said, Rodriguez and his passenger exited from the damaged sedan and fled from the location.

Members of the 104th Precinct responded to the scene along with EMS units. Gibbons, who suffered blunt force trauma to the head, neck and chest, was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The taxi driver, meanwhile, was also brought to Elmhurst Hospital and treated for severe head, neck and back injuries. Rodriguez’s passenger was located with minor injuries and brought to Elmhurst Hospital for treatment; he was later placed under arrest by police on charges that he possessed a quantity of marijuana.

Following Gibbons’ death, family members, community leaders and local residents rallied to find the suspect in the hit-and-run accident, later determined to be Rodriguez. Wanted posters bearing Rodriguez’s mugshot and police contact information were placed on lampposts and other public fixtures around Maspeth and surrounding neighborhoods in the hope that someone would provide a tip that would lead to the suspect’s capture.

With the help of an anonymous tip to the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline, law enforcement sources said, Rodriguez was tracked down in Connecticut on Nov. 15, 2011 and taken into custody by members of the U.S. Marshals New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force. He was later extradited to Queens and has been held without bail since his arraignment.

The NYPD Highway Patrol Accident Investigation Squad conducted the inquiry into the crash.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Robert S. Ciesla of the D.A.’s Homicide Investigations Bureau and Assistant District Attorney John Kosinski, chief of the D.A.’s Vehicular Homicide Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Peter T. Reese, bureau chief, and Peter J. Mc- Cormack III and Richard B. Schaeffer, deputy bureau chiefs.

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