A Calverton woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of failing to report an accident following a hit-and-run crash that badly injured a Riverhead man last May, according to online court records.
The plea deal assures Jacqueline Celentano, 22, will not be convicted of the top charge of leaving the scene of an accident with an injury, a Class E felony. The penalty on the lesser charge, which was added four months after her arrest, may lead to license revocation or suspension, but Ms. Celentano, who remains free on $30,000 bail, should avoid jail time when she is sentenced next month. Had she been convicted of the top charge, she faced a maximum of four years in prison, according to state law.
Ms. Celentano struck Aaron Hartman, then 23 years old, while driving along a stretch of County Road 105 called Cross River Drive in Flanders at 1 a.m. Sunday, May 12, 2013. She was arrested three days later after turning herself in to Southampton Town Police.
Police had said they were able to identify a red 2000 Chevy Impala sedan parked outside a Riverside home as the vehicle that struck Mr. Hartmann. Ms. Celentano’s attorney, John Russo, said at her arraignment last May that his client left the scene of the accident out of fear.
Mr. Hartmann, who remained in Stony Brook University Medical Center for three weeks following the accident, had suffered a badly broken leg and facial fractures. He said upon his release from the hospital that swelling in his brain left him with no memory of the actual crash.
Police were criticized in the days following the incident for not immediately investigating the accident. Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce said police “did not realize the extent of the injuries at the time.”
Once police received word from hospital staff on the extent of Aaron Hartmann’s injuries, “That’s when we said, ‘Alright we’ve got to get detectives on this,’” the chief told the News-Review last May.