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A man who has been on the run for nearly 30 years after pleading guilty to assault in Fresh Meadows has finally been arrested and will start to serve his sentence.

According to the criminal charges, at 10:25 a.m. on Dec. 3, 1989,  Jaipaul Maharaj (also known as Abdool Persaud and Ronald Davidson) was driving drunk and without a license in a 1984 Chevrolet van when he ran through a red light at the intersection of 73rd Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard.

The van collided struck the passenger side of a 1986 Toyota. The passenger, Grace Schachnu, suffered broken ribs, a fractured cervical, collapsed lungs and hemorrhaging of the brain. Schachnu later died in 1994.

Maharaj, who was 36 at the time of the crash, had been arrested in December 1989 and pleaded guilty to first degree assault on October 29, 1990. Maharaj failed to appear to his sentencing on December 7, 1990 and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. He was later sentenced in absentia to four to twelve years in jail on December 12, 1990.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that justice was finally served 26 1/2 years later when, on July 6, 2017, the now 63-year-old Maharaj appeared for a scheduled meeting with the Sullivan County Department of Probation as Abdool Persaud; he is on five years’ probation for an October 2015 conviction. He was promptly arrested and appeared before Queens Supreme Court, where he was remanded to the state Department of Corrections to begin his sentence.

“It took 26 years but the victim’s family finally has achieved justice in knowing that the individual responsible for causing serious physical injury to their loved one is now being held accountable for his actions,” Brown said in a statement. “If not for a casual inquiry made by a family member of the victim fortuitously making its way to the Queens District Attorney’s Office, the defendant might very well have escaped punishment for his crime.”


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