Driver Who Killed Delivery Man Offered Little Remorse, Few Answers During Deposition
The Mercedes-Benz driver who killed a delivery worker in Queens last April, and who was let off the hook by authorities, offered little repentance in a three-hour deposition last month as part of a separate civil suit against her — instead repeating an excuse for fatally running over the 37-year-old that attorneys have argued is bogus.
Queens DA Melinda Katz claimed in November that her office could not press criminal charges against the driver, Maro Andrianou — who previously used the surname Yerolemou — even though she was allegedly moving at roughly twice the speed limit when she struck and killed Xing Long Lin on 35th Street near Ditmars Boulevard on April 29, before plowing into an outdoor dining structure, injuring another person standing at the corner.
But both the surviving victim, Nahar Anin-Aminof, and Lin’s wife are now pursuing civil suits against Andrianou, as part of their own attempt to hold her accountable. And despite nearly three hours of interrogation, many questions about the carnage of that day remain unanswered, according to Anin-Aminof’s attorney, Jeffrey Weiskopf.
“The truth of what she said is still up for discussion,” said Weiskopf. “I didn’t sense much remorse.”
During the Dec. 8 deposition, Andrianou recounted the events of that spring day, as well as the other murky evidence — including her speeding tickets, associations with a detective agency, and the deed transfer on her house just weeks after the fatal crash — that punctured the image of innocence she’s trying to convey.
Katz’s office exonerated Andrianou on the grounds that she was “struck” from behind — a jolt that sent her luxury car flying down the narrow residential street at a “high rate of speed,” and into Lin before plowing into the outdoor dining structure of Rosatoro Restaurant.
But video obtained by Streetsblog last month shows just a light tap on Andrianou’s rear bumper by another driver — not the kind of impact that was likely to cause the “sudden acceleration of the vehicle and subsequent loss of control,” which Katz’s office said was either due to a “mechanical defect” or “driver error.”
Asked about it during the deposition, Andrianou parroted the District Attorney’s office finding, blaming her car. She claimed she never took her foot off the brake.
“Somebody hit me from the back of the car, you know, and after the hitting of the back, the car accelerated on its own,” she said, according to the 147-page transcript provided to Streetsblog. “When somebody hit me, the car became very defective, so I could not control it. So I know this is Mercedes problems.”
Andrianou said she had left her 46th Street house to drive to church on 37th Street — a distance of less than two miles that typically should take no more than 15 minutes. But that day, Andrianou said, there was “too much traffic,” and she couldn’t find a parking spot until after 7 p.m.
“I don’t know the exact time. So it was maybe 40 minutes, or approximately, I don’t remember,” she said when asked how long she was looking for parking.
Andrianou said her car only came to a stop after striking the tree outside Rosatoro Restaurant, and that she didn’t learn of her victims until the next day, when she heard about it from her daughters and the media.
“I didn’t see anybody was hit,” Andrianou said. “Let me tell you something, whatever I heard is from the media. I feel very bad, but this is not my fault.”
Andrianou said she first, and only, met with law enforcement officials at a Kew Gardens courthouse for about three hours one month after the crash. And she told Weiskopf that despite never being arrested or criminally charged — let alone ever receiving a single traffic ticket as a result of the fatal crash — hired a criminal defense attorney named Scott Bernstein. A search for criminal defense attorneys with that name in the tristate area yielded no results.
As for the speeding tickets associated with the car, Andrianou said she had not been driving, claiming her tenant — who at first she said was her neighbor — had stolen her car.
“Actually, he took my car with no permission to take his daughter to the hospital because of cancer…He is my neighbor. And also he does construction in my house. Actually he lives in one of the rooms in my house,” Andrianou said during questioning.
Andrianou said she paid the tickets nonetheless. Weiskopf filed earlier this week a “notice to produce” all of the documentation related to the speeding tickets.
And when asked about her alleged inability to stop her car hurtling northbound on 35th Street into Lin, who was riding in the bike lane, Andrianou said during the deposition that she had brought it to a Northern Boulevard Mercedes dealership due to a “recall” about three weeks before the crash. She told the attorney that it was in the shop until just days before it became the focus of an investigation into a man’s death, but that she doesn’t remember what the recall was for — and that the mechanics said they had fixed it.
“Don’t remember. They told me that whatever was recall, they fixed it. … I know the car was defective, and this is wrong for Mercedes, not for me. When somebody hit me, the car became very defective, so I could not control it. I tried to control it. So I know this is Mercedes problems,” she said as part of her testimony.
Mercedes-Benz has repeatedly declined to comment on an “open matter.” Weiskopf said he could not find anything on a supposed recall of the car she was driving, and also demanded such documentation be turned over as part of the case.
And as for the curious creation of a “qualified personal residence trust” on Andrianou’s home that she initiated three weeks after the crash, Andrianou told Weiskopf that it stems from her divorce from her first husband in 2005, with whom she has children. She claimed in the deposition that the timing was coincidental and denied it was because of upcoming litigation.
“This is a trust, is an agreement with my ex-husband. He gave me money for the house. He bought the house actually for his kids, so they can stay with me,” she said.
And the detective agency that cycling activist C.J. Wojtkowski revealed was owned by Andrianou actually dates back to her second husband, who, she said, fraudulently opened the firm, Avante’s Detective and Security, under her name and that she was under the impression it was no longer in operation.
“He was a crook, and he opened a business under my name. When I find out, I divorced him. In fact, he stole my money,” she said. “As soon as I find out, I close the business.”
Weiskopf countered during the deposition that the firm was in fact still in business.
“Would it surprise you if I told you this business was still an active operation known by the Department of State?” he said.
Weiskopf also requested from Andrianou and her attorneys all documents “regarding and/or related to the formation and/or dissolution of Avante’s Detective and Security” as part of a list of nine demands.
Andrianou maintains that she has no connections with the NYPD or District Attorney’s office.
The attorney representing Lin’s wife, who must first file for control of his estate in surrogate court, told Streetsblog that he was “disappointed” in Katz’s decision not to prosecute, calling Andrianou’s defense “fabricated,” though he said he understood the difficulty in winning such a case.
“Very disappointed concerning the clearly fabricated excuse made by the driver,” said Steven Gershowitz, a former prosecutor in the Bronx District Attorney’s office. “That being said, I am a former prosecutor and the criminal standard is certainly different than the civil one. I think they could have moved forward but I think it would have been difficult. I will say I’m disappointed. There’s certain cases I have, this one is a good example, that no matter the monetary result, it can never fill the hole caused by the defendant’s actions. It’s incredibly sad and difficult for the family.”