Hynes Deal: Community Service for Firefighter in Deadly Hit-and-Run

A city firefighter who left a man to die on a Brooklyn street was sentenced to community service on Monday, the result of a plea deal with Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes.

Manuel Tzaj Guachiac. Photo via New York Times

Pat Quagliariello was reportedly texting his girlfriend and speeding when his BMW SUV struck Manuel Tzaj Guachiac in Bensonhurst in October 2010. Quagliariello did not stop, and refused to talk to investigators when he turned himself in hours later. Wrote the Post:

Quagliariello, whose older brother is well-respected NYPD Detective Anthony Quagliariello, was not given a Breathalyzer or a blood test to determine his blood-alcohol content, sources said.

But the sources insisted that probers could not have done that legally because they have no witnesses saying Quagliariello was driving the vehicle.

At the time of his death, Tzaj Guachiac, 25, had been in the country six months. He moved to the United States from Guatemala, where he had a wife and son.

After the crash, Quagliariello was charged with criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene. According to the Daily News, a prosecutor “vowed that ‘there will be a jail sentence.’”

A Hynes spokesperson told Streetsblog that Quagliariello pleaded guilty to leaving the scene without reporting, and that his sentence requires him to visit 35 high schools to speak to students as part of the DA’s “Choices and Consequences” program — a project aimed at educating teens on the perils of reckless and drunk driving.

If you’re wondering how a homicide charge gets reduced to leaving the scene with no jail time, so were we. When we asked about Quagliariello’s plea deal, Hynes’s office refused further comment.

In other words, not only do killer drivers have virtually nothing to fear from New York police and prosecutors, the machinations behind sweetheart deals like the one granted to Pat Quagliariello are none of the public’s business.

  • Anonymous

    “…his sentence requires him to visit 35 high schools to speak to students as part of the DA’s “Choices and Consequences” program — a project aimed at educating teens on the perils of reckless and drunk driving.”

    I just love this. “So, kids, if you choose to drive recklessly, your consequence will be to go to schools and talk to kids about how if they choose to drive recklessly, their consequence will be to go to schools and talk to OTHER kids about how if they choose to drive recklessly…” and on and on and on, forever. Maybe his little talk would have more meaning if he actually, ya know, faced some real consequences for his actions?

  • Glenn

    Consequences seem to only happen to victims I guess. Imagine a similar program for any other violent crime. Let’s say instead of getting into a car drunk and killing somone, Pat got drunk and got into a fight with some stranger, or maybe his girlfriend/wife. Would the DA’s office call community service a consequence in that case? Would it at all be acceptable for defendants (not even “convicted killers”) to just go around and talk to kids about not drinking and fighting? 

    Really, it would be better for the kids to not get the lecture in a school room, but in a courtroom where a DA and/or defense attorney can tell them exactly what they can get away with behind the wheel.

  • Eric McClure

    @coupdefoudre, you beat me to it. The last thing I would want is for my kid to hear from this guy about “responsibility.”

    “Hey, kids, don’t ever leave the scene if you run somebody over (especially if you’re related to NYPD brass, ’cause then even if you’re drunk things will be cool), because you might be forced to have to shlep around to schools talking about dealing with the ‘guilt’ of leaving someone dead in the road. What a heavy trip.”

    Streetsblog, hope you’re FOILing that plea deal.

  • Greg

    This is disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful.

  • Eric McClure

    Worse yet, hitting someone might mess up your car like Tracey Morgan’s, and then you’d have to wait around for a tow truck. Drag!

  • Anonymous

    The DA struck a deal.  I understand what Quagliariello gets from the deal.  What does the DA get?

    This is outrageous.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the sentiment here, but is it really in the best interest of society to fill our overcrowded and expensive jails and prisons with reckless drivers? I suggest that the penalty should be permanent (or really long-term) license revocation. But for such a revocation to have teeth, there would have to be really severe penalties (*now* I’m talking prison) for driving with a revoked license. This should only apply when the license was revoked for vehicular crime, and not for suspension due to administrative violations.

    I imagine that if the guy told high-school kids “if you drive recklessly, the consequence will be that you will never be able to drive again”, they might listen (OK, maybe not everyone in NYC will be as scared of not being able to drive, but many will).

    Apologists always argue “…but he needs to drive in order to work!” Sorry, the victim won’t be able work either as a result of this man’s recklessness, so it is only fair that he shares some of the pain, even if it means having to move or find another job.

  • Anonymous

    When I called the DA’s office to express my hope that they will do their job prosecuting criminals, the deputy I spoke to didn’t seem pleased. That makes me think we should ALL call. I think they’ve completely forgotten that the DA is supposed to protect the public.

  • Glenn

    qrt145 – The DMV & insurance companies are another big part of the equation. We need a very simple system that has automatic administrative penalties for specific moving infractions. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

  • Billm45s

    Although I, and I assume most of you don’t like it, the DA most likely made the deal because of lack of strong enough or sufficient evidence to get a conviction for criminally negligent homicide.  What we have here is potential evidence that he was texting while driving, what you don’t have is a causation beyond a reasonable doubt that the texting caused the accident. From the reports, you have no admissible evidence that he was impaired at the time he hit Guachiac. The best evidence it seems is his own texting admission that he left the scene, but that gets a conviction for leaving the scene, not for criminally negligent homicide.

  • Billm45s

    Further to my prior posting, my thought is that a possible better tool to address drivers who leave the scene when they hit a person, is a stronger penalty for leaving the scene that as suggested below also includes revocation of license for a significant period of time.  I also agree that in the event that someone is caught driving subsequent to such a revocation that there should be an incarceration penalty.

  • Abc

    Write to him and let him know how you feel:
    Pat J Quagliariello 
    1319 E 8th St, Apt 2, 
    Brooklyn, NY 11230-5701

  • krstrois

    Today’s Daily News piece on the acquittal mentions that while the killer’s blood alcohol level was unknown because the cops saw no need to give him a breathalyzer test, the victim, who was WALKING had a BA level “three times the legal limit.” Our current system is wretched. 

  • Joe R.

    @qrt145:disqus I’m in 100% agreement here. Putting people in jail who are only dangerous behind the wheel serves no purpose. It also costs society a ton of money, both for the incarceration itself, plus the loss of a taxpaying member of society. I fully agree the penalty in this case should have been permanent license revocation for the remainder of the defendant’s natural life. I think the best way to ensure this would have teeth would be to allow police to confiscate and auction off the vehicle of anyone found driving without a license. Few people can afford to continually replace their cars every time they get caught driving without a license. And like you, I couldn’t care less about the usual “But I need to drive to get to work”. There are many options open for people who can’t drive.

    The effect would be immediate when lecturing school kids: “Hey, I killed someone while driving. Not only can’t I ever drive again, but they confiscated my car when I tried driving with no license, and I still have to make car payments.”

  • Anonymous

    @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus , what would you do if someone gets caught driving a borrowed car without a license?

  • Andrew

    @cc36704b289cbef0ac72a06121c6c6d8:disqus I never knew there was a legal limit for pedestrians.

  • Joe R.

    @qrt145:disqus Same thing-the car would be confiscated. If you loan someone your car, it’s your responsibility to make sure they have a valid driver’s license. Even as things stand now, if the police catch an unlicensed driver using your car, there’s a good chance your insurance rates will rise. That’s already a good incentive to check the status of the license of any potential borrower.

  • krstrois

    Andrew, yes that was a surprise to me, too. Better to drive drunk than walk that way, in this case, at least. 

  • annoyed

    how do you know that the driver of the car was drunk?  they also never proved that he was driving the car.  he also had no previous DUIs.  And when you walk in his shoes or anyone else’s shoes then u can talk.  a car accident is just that an accident.  I think u people should get lives and leave people alone.  

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