Linden cop pleads not guilty to manslaughter charges

LINDEN, NJ  — The off-duty Linden police officer who allegedly killed two passengers in his car in Staten Island after apparently driving under the influence on the wrong side of a major highway, recently made bail and pleaded not guilty to a 43-count indictment, which charged him with aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter and more.

Linden Police Officer Pedro Abad, who was behind the wheel in an accident before 5 a.m. on Monday, March 30, was also charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, according to the indictment in “The People of the State of New York against Pedro Abad.”

Officials have said that at the time of the accident, when the off-duty officer slammed his car head-first into a tractor trailer, Abad had a blood alcohol level of .24, or three times the legal limit in the state of New York.

According to the indictment, Abad was operating a motor vehicle “in a reckless manner in that the defendant did travel at a high rate of speed, and did travel northbound in the southbound lanes of the West Shore Expressway (Route 440),” thus “forcing other motorists to swerve away from the defendant’s vehicle.” This interfered with general use of the highway, the indictment stated, unreasonably endangering the lives of other motorists.

The indictment also charges that the actions of Abad, 28, led to the deaths of two of his passengers. Officials have previously confirmed that Abad was driving home following a night of drinking at a Staten Island-based strip club.

Two of the vehicle’s three passengers, Linden Police officer Frank Viggiano and Linden resident Joseph Rodriguez, died in the accident, and the third, Linden Police officer Patrick Kudlac, was critically injured, along with Abad himself.

Abad’s lawyer, Mario Gallucci, said that Abad will have long-term injuries from the accident, — one of his arms is disabled, he may not have full use of his legs again, and “his speech is slightly impaired because of a diminished mental capacity,” according to The Star-Ledger.

Leading up to the accident in March, Abad had been involved in eight separate accidents since 2005, and was charged with a DUI twice. In 2011, Abad crashed into a small supermarket in Roselle, and then in 2013 he crashed into a parked car in Rahway.

The first charge was dismissed by a local judge, as state police reportedly never submitted the required evidence requested by Abad’s attorney. But the Rahway incident resulted in a conviction and a driving infraction. Abad’s license was suspended for seven months, and when it was restored, he was court-ordered to have an interlocking device, or breathalyzer, installed on his vehicle for 180 days.

When Abad plead not guilty to the charges from the indictment, it was the first time he had appeared in public since the fatal crash that occurred in March.

Just after 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept 21, Abad was wheeled into the courtroom and gave “one word answers” in response to
“a series of questions from Judge Mario Mattei about where he lives and how he was pleading,” added the report by The Star-Ledger, and Mattei told Abad that “if I find out you are driving, I will have you brought back here, forcibly if necessary, and change your bail.”