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Wading River woman pleads guilty to vehicular manslaughter

01/08/2017 11:35 AM |

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A Wading River woman, arrested following a drugged-driving crash that led to the death of the owner of a local landscaping company in September, has pleaded guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter. 

Brianna Hassett, 25, was arraigned on the upgraded charges before Judge Fernando Camacho Tuesday. She also pleaded guilty to an additional felony charge of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, according  to online court records.

Ms. Hassett was driving a 2005 Cadillac eastbound on Route 25 west of Pleasant View Road in Ridge around 11:50 a.m. Sept. 13 when her vehicle struck Julio Aceituno-Perez, 52, of Flanders while he was cutting a lawn, police said. Mr. Aceituno later succumbed to his injuries at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Ms. Hassett failed sobriety tests at the scene of the crash and “told police in sum and substance” that she had taken numerous drugs before driving, a Suffolk County District Attorney spokesperson said at the time.

Ms. Hassett, who had no prior criminal history, allegedly admitted to snorting half a bag of “dope,” injecting the other half and snorting a line of cocaine at 3 a.m. the day of the crash.

She also admitted to consuming Xanax the night before and the morning of the crash, officials said at the time.

Mr. Aceituno pictured with his three daughters (from left) Jasmin, Jennifer and Genesis and his wife Gladys. (Credit: courtesy photo)

Mr. Aceituno pictured with his three daughters (from left) Jasmin, Jennifer and Genesis and his wife Gladys. (Credit: courtesy photo)

Mr. Aceituno, a native of Guatemala, founded Genesis Landscaping in Flanders in 2000. He is survived by his wife, three adult daughters and one grandson. (Read more about his life in this related story.)

Ms. Hassett, who has remained in the county jail in Riverside since her arrest, was arraigned on a slew of other charges covered by Tuesday’s plea deal, including misdemeanor charges of failing to report an accident and reckless driving. She is expected to be sentenced before Judge Camacho at the county courthouse in Central Islip on Monday, Jan. 23.

The two felonies she pleaded guilty to carry a combined prison sentence of between 2 and 11 years.

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