A former New York City police officer from Syosset will serve up to four years in jail following a hit-and-run that killed a 13-year-old Levittown girl with Down syndrome on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown in June, according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
Michael Elardo, 48, pleaded guilty to the top charge against him, leaving the scene of a fatal incident without reporting, a D felony. He will serve a minimum of one and 1/3 years in prison, and a maximum of four years.
Bryanna Soplin was struck by Elardo's minivan just after midnight on June 15, as she crossed the turnpike near the Gardiners Avenue intersection.
Elardo surrendered to Nassau County police approximately 42 hours later, on June 16. In court on Monday, Elardo admitted knowing that he struck a person and left the scene, said Rice.
The investigation into the underlying causes of the collision, according to Rice, remains open.
Rice said she also called on the state Legislature to increase penalties for fatal hit-and-runs. Currently, the charge of leaving the scene of a fatal incident without reporting carries a maximum sentence of two and 1/3 to seven years in prison. Rice said she wants the penalty to increase to five to 15 years in prison.
“A driver who flees the scene of a collision should not benefit from that flight,” Rice said. “The penalty for leaving the scene should be increased to discourage drivers from fleeing. Right now a driver may face lower charges because he has prevented a full investigation. That should never happen. The state Legislature should increase the penalties, remove this benefit and pass this common-sense measure in their next session.”
Assistant District Attorneys Michael Bushwack and Gene Kang of the D.A.'s Vehicular Crimes Bureau are prosecuting the case. Elardo is represented by Michael DerGarabedian.