Tuesday, April 23, 2013

DA: Suffolk man arraigned in fatal hit-and-run after trying to flee to Canada

DA: Suffolk man arraigned in fatal hit-and-run after trying to flee to Canada, A Central Islip man was arraigned Tuesday in a fatal hit-and-run crash and Suffolk prosecutors allege that he was attempting to flee the country when he was apprehended near the Canadian border in update New York.

Syvestro Liotta, 45, stood silent in his blue sport jacket, navy pants and light blue shirt, while he was ordered held on $200,000 bail or $400,000 during his arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip.

Prosecutor Melissa Turk said Liotta was driving his work van on Feb. 18 when he struck a pedestrian, 38-year-old Orland Marquez, at Caleb’s Path near Bushwick Avenue in Brentwood. He then fled the scene, without stopping, police said at the time. The company he was working for was not identified.

According to prosecutors, Suffolk County police began an extensive investigation and quickly learned that Liotta was driving the vehicle at the time. When deceives tracked him down, Liotta gave them a “false sworn statement to evade detection,” Turk said in court.

Prosecutors allege that as the investigation intensified, Liotta left his home, boarded a Trialways bus and headed for Canada. United States Customs and Border Protection agents stopped Liotta as the bus approached a border crossing, known as Peace Bridge, in Buffalo on April 16. The federal agents learned that Liotta had an outstanding warrant in Suffolk County for manslaughter related to this case and notified New York State troopers, according to a state police news release.

In making her bail argument, Turk said that Liotta was aware that he was under suspicion in connection with the fatal crash and that he attempted to flee the country in an effort to evade apprehension. His privately retained lawyer, Tad Scharfenberg of Bohemia, denied that allegation and said his client was on his way to visit a friend in Canada, unaware that the police actively wanted to apprehend him.

Scharfenberg said that his client was saddened by Marquez’s death. “Not only him, but the family’s heart goes out to the person who was lost and his family,” he said. “It’s tragic all around.” Scharfenberg said his office is now investigating the incident and said that his client denies the charges against him. “This is the court process and we entered a denial to his guilt,” he said outside the courtroom.

Scharfenberg said in addition to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, his client has been charged with perjury, filing a false report, and unlicensed driving. Asked if Liotta’s license was suspended at the time of his arrest, Scharfenberg said, “I don’t know for sure, but he was indicted for that. I’ve got to review the records to make sure.”

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho ordered Liotta returned to custody after the appearance. Scharfenberg said he does not expect his client to post bail. He is due back in court on May 22.

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