A man who pleaded guilty Wednesday at Suffolk County court to driving while ability impaired when he crashed into a limousine, killing four women in Cutchogue two years ago, was spared jail time.
Judge Fernando Comacho sentenced Steven Romero to a 90-day driver’s license suspension and a $500 fine. The plea deal was struck because Romero’s blood alcohol level was .06 percent 90 minutes after the crash, making it difficult for prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the case for a more serious charge of driving while intoxicated. A grand jury opted to indict the limo driver with more serious charges.
Prosecutors said Romero, 57, of Peconic, was driving his pickup truck westbound on County Road 48 when he crashed into the limo, which was making a U-turn at the corner of Depot Lane after it had just left Vineyard 48 on July 18, 2015.
The four women killed in the crash were identified as Brittany Schulman and Lauren Baruch, both of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, of Kings Park; and Amy Grabina, of Commack. All were 23 except Baruch, who was 24. Three were pronounced dead at the scene, and the fourth died at an East End hospital. Four other women riding in the limo were injured.
Comacho dismissed the case against the limo driver, Carlos Pino, in October on the grounds of issues raised about the grand jury indictment, which charged Pino with criminally negligent homicide, assault, reckless driving and traffic violations. Prosecutors are appealing that ruling.