Man indicted in fatal hunting accident with Malverne firefighter

Charged with criminally negligent homicide


A Garden City man was arraigned on April 7 on a charge of criminally negligent homicide for accidentally shooting and killing a Malverne firefighter on an upstate hunting trip in November.

Robert Gerbino, 57, faced a grand jury at his arraignment Monday at Otsego County Courthouse, according to indictment records that were unsealed the next day.

Gerbino, who was indicted on March 27, is accused of killing Charles Bruce, Sr., a late member of the Malverne Fire Department, at the scene of a hunting accident on Nov. 16. The accident occurred in a wooded area of a privately owned property in the Town of Westford, according to Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl.

Muehl said he believes the felony charge against Gerbino, which maintains that the defendant accidentally caused the death of another person, fits the crime, calling it a “tragic accident brought on by carelessness.”

“I certainly thought the evidence was there to support this charge,” he said. “I’m hoping that we can reach an agreement with a plea bargain and resolve the case for the trial.”

Muehl added that Gerbino has been cooperative with police and “very, very remorseful” throughout court proceedings.

Gerbino’s attorney, Richard Rothermel, was not available for comment.

Bruce, of Franklin Square, died from a single shot to the chest with a high-powered .44-caliber rifle. Gerbino, who was sitting in a tree, shot Bruce while he stood in a thick brush 40 feet away.

In an earlier investigation, Gerbino told State Police that he had mistaken Bruce for a deer. Muehl said that both men were not wearing any protective gear or orange safety jackets, and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Gerbino is charged with criminally negligent homicide, which warrants a maximum sentence of four years in prison, and will appear in court again on Monday, May 5 at the Otsego County Courthouse.