Peter Rodriguez, the driver in a wrong-way accident that took the life of a beloved Maspeth bar owner, pleaded guilty recently to criminally negligent homicide and now faces up to seven years in jail, though that is of little solace for his family.
George Gibbons, owner of Gibbons’ Home, was killed on the morning of October 15, 2011 when the cab he was traveling home in was struck by Rodriguez’s vehicle — traveling the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway’s service road.
Rodriguez, who has been held without bail since his November arrest, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and leaving the scene of the fatal hit-and-run crash in court on Friday, April 20.
“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.”
Rodriguez had been convicted of four felonies prior to this case.
“Our community came together to fight for justice for George and, now that Peter Rodriguez is behind bars, we can finally say that our streets are safer. 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, who helped organize a “Justice for George” rally to aid in the search for Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, who will be sentenced on Monday, May 7, faces between three-and-a-half to seven years in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.
“Teenagers are in high school longer than Rodriguez will probably be in state prison, and that is a shame,” Gibbons said. “I wonder how many more people will be hurt by his careless actions before the law decides to recognize the danger that he poses to society.”
Gibbons said there is nothing that can prepare a family for sitting in a courtroom staring at a man who robbed the life of a loved one.
“I think after we make our impact statement to Peter Rodriguez and to the court on May 7, we will finally feel some sort of relief,” said Gibbons, who added they will never have closure. “Through our words we can only hope that Judge [Dorothy] Chin-Brandt will understand our pain and recognize that this should be the final straw for Rodriguez. It is time that not only our family receives justice for George, but that the Queens community obtains justice for the man that was stolen from them far too early.”