NEW YORK – A former New Jersey police officer convicted of drunken driving and causing a wrong-way crash that killed a fellow officer and another friend apologized on Wednesday but was sentenced to the maximum prison term — up to 25 years.
A judge on Staten Island gave Pedro Abad 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison after the former Linden officer had asked for the minimum of one year.
"You have no idea of the magnitude of what you did," Judge Mario Mattei told Abad, according to the Staten Island Advance. "You weren't an accident waiting to happen. You were a time bomb waiting to explode."
Abad, 29, said in court his friends never should have gotten into the car with him.
"If I was so belligerent they should've taken an Uber home," he said. "They chose to get in my car."
Prosecutors say Abad was drunk when he crashed into a tractor-trailer after a night at a strip club with friends in 2015.
He was driving the wrong way on the West Shore Expressway when the crash occurred. Tests later showed his blood-alcohol content was 0.24 percent; the legal limit for driving in New York is 0.08 percent.
Hours before the crash, Abad had posted a photo on his Instagram page of three shot glasses filled with what he identified as "Jack Daniels Fire on the house."
Officer Frank Viggiano and friend Joseph Rodriguez died in the crash. A third Linden officer was critically injured.
Rodriguez's father would not refer to Abad by name during the trial but did so after sentencing.
"To Pedro: You took the most precious thing from a parent — you took my precious little boy from me," he said.
Abad's attorney had argued that Abad's blood sample wasn't obtained properly and disputed that the accident was caused by intoxication. Attorney Mario Gallucci said outside court that Abad was "fine" with the sentencing and thought it must be "God's will."
District Attorney Michael McMahon said the sentence "ensures Mr. Abad is held accountable for the lives he destroyed when he decided to get behind the wheel and drive drunk."
Abad had two drunken-driving arrests before the fatal crash: one from a 2011 accident in Roselle, New Jersey, after he drove through the wall of a convenience store; the other in 2013 after he struck a parked car in Rahway, New Jersey. The 2011 charge later was dismissed.