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Reputed Brooklyn gang member indicted for Christmas Eve collision that killed an Ozone Park woman

Photo via Shutterstock

A Brooklyn man has been indicted by a Queens grand jury in the hit-and-run collision that killed a beloved figure in the West Indian Hindu community of South Ozone Park last year.

Jason Liriano, 23, of Pine Street, was arraigned Thursday, Sept. 23 before Queens Supreme Court Justice Gary Miret on a 4-count indictment charging him criminally negligent homicide and other crimes for allegedly crashing into a vehicle and running away on foot in Ozone Park on Christmas Eve in 2020.

According to the charges, Liriano was driving a black Lamborghini Urus SUV around 7 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2020 when he allegedly crashed into a Toyota Camry on 103rd Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard. Ritawantee Persaud, 54, an Indo-Caribbean vocalist, was riding in the backseat of the Uber, just blocks from her home. Both she and the driver were injured in the collision.

The driver of the Lamborghini and one of his passengers quickly exited the vehicle and fled the scene on foot. Another passenger riding with Liriano was injured and remained at the crash site, according to the charges.

Both Persaud and the driver were immediately transported by EMS to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where Persaud was pronounced dead. The driver of the Uber sustained severe head and body trauma but survived the injuries.

Born in Guyana, Persaud migrated to New York in 1999 and immediately found broad-based acceptance in the West Indian Hindu community. While she spent her days as an accountant, all of her evenings and weekends were spent in the Hindu community in service projects.

Rita Persaud, a beloved figure in Ozone Park, was killed in a car crash on December 2020. (Photo via Facebook/Rita Persaud)

Persaud mentored and schooled both adults and children in the community and was always the first to offer a hand to help those in need, according to Persaud’s relatives.

Detectives from the NYPD Highway Patrol arrested Liriano on Thursday, Sept. 23 calling him a known gang member “with a long rap sheet.” His arrest was Liriano’s eighth of the year, according to the NYPD.

“Behind the wheel of an expensive sports car, the defendant allegedly drove at a high rate of speed and hit another car on the rear passenger side,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “As alleged, his careless driving sadly resulted in the tragic death of an innocent woman. We all bear a responsibility on our shared roadways. This defendant’s alleged actions caused heartache and grief. He will be held accountable in our judicial system.”

Justice Miret set Liriano’s return date for Dec. 2. If convicted Liriano faces up to seven years in prison.

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