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Aug 9, 2011 3:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Quogue Couple Fears That Twice-Convicted DWI Driver Won't Face Jail Time

Aug 10, 2011 10:45 AM

As part of her guilty plea, Ms. DePersia could still serve jail time if she “steps out of line at all.”

“My job is to do the best I can for my client,” Mr. Scharfenberg said. “I believe that what was negotiated was a fair resolution for everybody. I understand that the victims don’t believe that. I appreciate that, but not every case calls for incarceration. When people have made a real effort for treatment and are getting good reports, that shouldn’t be stopped.”

Mr. Gluck and Ms. Soyka filed a joint lawsuit against Ms. DePersia on December 6, 2010—just nine days after the crash—according to court documents. Their lawyer, David A. Shapiro, of the Briarwood law firm, Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino, said in an email on Monday that his clients are not seeking a specific amount in damages, explaining that a jury will be entrusted to put a figure on the final settlement.

The lawsuit states that Ms. Soyka “sustained severe and permanent personal injuries” and that she is “seeking to recover only those damages not recoverable through no-fault insurance under the facts and circumstances in this action.” Mr. Shapiro declined to clarify if Ms. Soyka was trying to recover lost wages or if she had been out of work for an extended period of time due to her injuries.

Mr. Gluck said he is concerned that Mr. Scharfenberg’s connection with the DA’s office—he previously worked in that office and is the former head of the Suffolk County Bar Association—could have resulted in a more lenient sentence for Ms. DePersia. Mr. Gluck, who attended Ms. DePersia’s last court date, also said he fears that the judge will only give her probation because she agreed to undergo alcohol rehabilitation counseling.

According to Mr. Clifford, Ms. DePersia’s arrest record reveals a history of drinking and driving arrests. In 2003, she was convicted of driving while her ability was impaired by alcohol, a violation, though Mr. Clifford could not offer specific details regarding that incident. She had her license suspended and paid a fine, Mr. Clifford said. Then in 2009, Ms. DePersia was convicted of her first DWI for her role in a minor accident that occurred in East Hampton in 2008. As a result of that conviction, she had her license suspended a second time, paid a fine and was put on probation for three years, according to Mr. Clifford.

Ms. DePersia was still on probation at the time of the accident last fall, though her license has since been returned.

Mr. Gluck and Ms. Soyka had been spending a weekend on the East End with the Scholacks and were heading back to East Quogue on the night of the accident. They said they had just finished watching the movie “Love and Other Drugs” at the United Artists East Hampton theater and were heading home when their car was struck by Ms. DePersia at around 11:30 p.m.

“She had a Starbucks cup with her name on it full of red wine,” said Mr. Gluck, referring to details included in the Southampton Town Police accident report. He added that one of the last things he remembers from that night is seeing headlights from an oncoming car before his vehicle was sent spiraling into an embankment.

Ms. DePersia, who told police in a statement that she “had been drinking wine and must have fallen asleep,” according to the same report, refused to take a Breathalyzer test. She did not require medical attention and was arrested a short time later, according to police records. As a result of her refusal, and the fact that she did not seek medical treatment, there is no blood-alcohol reading from that night.

Ms. Scholack—who was pregnant at the time with the couple’s first child—said the events of that evening were the first of what would become a seven-month waiting game to learn if her unborn child had suffered any permanent injuries. Following the collision, Ms. Scholack recalls exiting the car and lying facedown on the pavement because of sharp pains in her ribs that made it difficult for her to breathe.

Her concerns turned to relief seven months later with the birth of her son, Henry, who is now 12 weeks old, though she said the emotional distress she had to endure for the remaining months of her pregnancy prevented her from enjoying what should have been a special time.

Ms. Soyka, who had to have several operations after doctors reset her broken nose, said the accident also took its toll on her relationship with her son, Tyler, now 2. She explained that she had her first surgery at New York University Medical Center in Manhattan just a day after the accident, and as a result, was unable to play with her young son.

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Sounds like Ms. DePersia should have become a teacher in the ESM school district...then she would have been able to get at least 4 DWI's before it became a problem.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Aug 9, 11 6:06 PM
This women should of been put behind bars a long time ago, or should we wait for another victim? Ms Depersia should be punished to the fullest extent the law allows.
By BlueStreak (34), East End on Aug 9, 11 7:48 PM
It sounds like this drunk driver has friends in high places ! Thank God the injuries weren't more serious, but this plea bargaining for a felony conviction is B.S !
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Aug 9, 11 8:07 PM
2 members liked this comment
Whether Ms. DePersia should spend time in jail is a matter for the criminal court.

However, "those damages not recoverable through no-fault insurance. . ." as stated in the article are - - - long-term medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and anything else that the victims' lawyers can think of. That is to say, everything that everyone injured in an automobile accident normally sues for.

The juries in the civil cases will consider the judges ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 9, 11 11:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
REALLY?! How many times has "ms.depersia" driven drunk, and not gotten into an accident, or one that could be traced to her.
By just breath (82), yuck on Aug 10, 11 8:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By typical (63), southampton on Aug 10, 11 9:25 AM
Have you ever noticed that it's not the drunks who are injured in these accidents? The laws need to be changed. One DWI should yield one year in jail and a $100,000 fine. Your second - 2 years & $200,000, etc. I can
guarantee no one will be drinking & driving if that were the case.
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Aug 10, 11 9:55 AM
So true about the financial threat. However, DWIs are big business, too...courts, lawyers, etc. but no revenue can replace maimed or killed motorists by drunk drivers!
By beachgirl70 (7), Southampton on Aug 14, 11 12:31 AM
I thought that getting caught driving drunk three times meant mandatory jail time. Why is this woman being allowed to walk away just because she's getting counseling? Of course she getting counseling, but it doesn't prove she's stopped drinking and driving. I know someone who also got it after being caught twice, but she's drinking again. It's a matter of time before both get picked up again - God help us.
Aug 10, 11 11:31 AM appended by goldenrod
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Aug 10, 11 11:31 AM
I would never condone drinking and driving. And thank God this isn't more awful than it could have been.
Let the courts handle it. Not the press.
I don't see how a judge could possibly let this get by with such a minimal sentence after reading this article. Which leads me to believe that there is more to this story.

By ADAMSG (53), EAST QUOGUE on Aug 10, 11 12:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
the press and star will not handle this incident as they should knowing that Gary DePersia and Corcoran put many, many thousand dollars of ads every week (you have no doubt seen his very wide smile with obviously capped and bleached teeth) and what paper would like to lose that ?!? three strikes you are out and thank God no one else was taken out. time for the courts to stop being easy on multiple offenders. just because no one was killed (thank God) who knows how many were saved because she ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Aug 11, 11 6:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
with the amount of advertising Gary DePersia does with the press and star who thinks this will get attention????
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Aug 11, 11 8:44 PM
might as well do all the judging you want right here. There is NO justice in the court system. Today marks 2 yrs ago that my (15 yr old) son was killed by a drunk driver (repeat offender) here in Hampton Bays. What did she get? 6 months! Suffolk County DA's office sucks. They'll plead her out too. What the hell, no one was killed, maybe she'll get time served. They all belong behind bars, even the DA's and judges.
By my2goldens (12), Hampton Bays on Aug 13, 11 6:05 PM
Don't worry she completed her cocktail college, and paid her $700 fine she's cured. What a joke as far as I'm concerned she shot a couple rounds into someone's car and luckily just injured them. Put her away for 6 monthe and lets see how she likes it. Makes me sick!
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 15, 11 8:05 PM