15-Day Maximum Sentence for Unlicensed Driver Who Killed Bronx Senior

An unlicensed driver who killed a pedestrian in the Bronx last year was charged with only a traffic infraction that carries a nominal fine and a maximum 15-day jail term.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson charged an unlicensed driver with a traffic infraction for a crash that killed an 82-year-old pedestrian.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson charged an unlicensed driver with a traffic infraction for a crash that killed an 82-year-old pedestrian.

Nabaali Cletus hit 82-year-old Manuel Verdesoto with a Volvo as the senior crossed White Plains Road at Watson Avenue on the evening of May 15, 2013, according to reports.

photo from the scene showed two severe impact points to the destroyed windshield, and a dent in the hood, indicating that Verdesoto was thrown onto the vehicle with tremendous force. He died at Jacobi Hospital.

Police said Cletus, then 46, had a forged New York State photo ID and was not licensed to drive. Reports published soon after the crash said he was charged with possession of a forged instrument and driving without a license.

Cletus was not charged by NYPD or Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson for killing Verdesoto. Nor was he charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor that normally serves as the default charge issued by city prosecutors when an unlicensed driver kills a pedestrian or cyclist.

Currently the sole charge against Cletus is operating a motor vehicle by an unlicensed driver, according to court records — an infraction that carries a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.

Court records say Cletus was in court most recently on July 24. He is scheduled for another court date in September.

  • Andres Dee

    If operating dangerous machinery without a license is not a felony, Why bother to get licensed?

  • BBnet3000

    Ive never been pulled over by the police while driving. Ive spent ~$160 I think on my NYS drivers license including a renewal.

    This guy gets to kill somebody for $300 and never had to wait on line at the DMV.

  • kenney.sleater

    just another example of a “progressive” elected official getting social justice for the people…I think you hafta be committing a hate crime while eating a baby to get charged with a felony in Bronx County……

  • Roger87

    Well, operating that dangerous machinery in actual dangerous fashion isn’t even a misdemeanor in many cases (for instance speeding, a summary offense). Why would you elevate a technical violation (unlicensed operation) so far above an actual violation (dangerous operation)? Simply because licensed drivers are guaranteed not to be subject to one, but may be subject to the other, doesn’t make it rational or just to arrange punishments in that fashion.

  • AnoNYC

    This has nothing to do with political ideology and everything to do with interpreting the law as written.

    The fact is that the law is too lenient on these type of crimes. He should be banned from driving for life.

  • Devan

    But the driver was already legally banned (his license was not valid) but that didn’t stop him from driving. They can revoke someone’s license all they want but that won’t stop them from getting behind the wheel. Only thing that could do that is locking them up and throwing away the key, for the rest of their life. And if they have taken a life, then that’s what they deserve.

  • Devan

    If prosecutors aren’t doing their job, why do we even need them?
    Some of them are as useful as a wooden frying pan.

  • Guest

    Well, confiscate his vehicle for starters.

  • WoodyinNYC

    Mr Cletus had “a forged New York State photo ID” it says. Yawn.

    Do nothing until the forger sells fake I.D.s to terrorists? Or do nothing even then? Meanwhile the forger practices, practices, practices until he can make a passable $100 bill. Maybe then, at last, the defenders of the dollar legal will get interested.

    The D.A. should be making Mr Cletus rat out on the forger, and testify against him. Further, the D.A. should attempt to prosecute all identifiable customers of the forger; at least, contact them and give them a scare. But, Yawn.

  • armyvet05

    The law as written is a large part of the problem- Contact ALL of your representatives (city and state) and urge them to support and write laws that will jail people that drive without a license and kill pedestrians.

  • armyvet05

    Your effort is needed too: the law as written is a large part of the problem- Contact ALL of your representatives (city and state) and urge them to support and write laws that will jail people that drive without a license and kill pedestrians.

  • Adamlaw

    Unlicensed operation of a vehicle should, at a minimum, result in the vehicle’s being confiscated. That may get folks to think twice before driving without a license.

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