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Apr 17, 2019 4:34 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hit-And-Run Driver In Montauk Memorial Day Incident Is Taken To Jail

Jose Romero-Flores and his lawyer, Carl Irace walking into Suffolk County Court on Wednesday.   ELIZABETH VESPE
Apr 23, 2019 12:02 PM

A 33-year-old Queens man who was arrested last Memorial Day weekend and accused of a hit-and-run in Montauk appeared in Suffolk County Court on the morning of Wednesday, April 17, and was taken away in handcuffs to the Suffolk County Jail.

Jose Romero-Flores has been out on bail since the incident, in which he is accused of striking a 26-year-old Manhattan woman and leaving her injured in the middle of Main Street. He arrived at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead last week with his lawyer, Carl Irace of East Hampton, facing charges of vehicular assault in the second degree, and leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries, both felonies, and a misdemeanor charge of DWI.

“My understanding is that the defendant is going to be remanded today prior to being actually sentenced,” Carl Borelli, deputy bureau chief, told Suffolk County Court Judge Anthony Senft, who is handling the case.

According to police, Mr. Romero-Flores was driving westbound on Montauk Highway at 12:38 a.m. on May 26 with a passenger when his 2016 Ford van struck Sofie Pitt as she was attempting to cross the street just west of the intersection at South Embassy Street, between the Memory Motel and the Point Bar and Grill. Police said the van struck Ms. Pitt with the passenger side bumper and front windshield.

Mr. Romero-Flores was arrested after East Hampton Fire Marshal Dwayne Denton, who witnessed the accident, gave a description of the driver’s van to police. Officer Raymond Rau was on foot patrol in the area at the time when he saw Mr. Romero-Flores drive away from the scene, police said, and Mr. Denton gave a description of the van to Officer Rau, who pulled over Mr. Romero-Flores a short distance away, near Upland Road, and arrested him.

Ms. Pitts was transferred to the intensive care unit at Stony Brook University Hospital on the day of the accident.

Police said Mr. Romero-Flores performed poorly on field sobriety tests and was charged with misdemeanor counts of DWI and leaving the scene of an accident.

Mr. Romero-Flores was arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court later that morning and was released from police custody the same day after posting $1,500 bail. He pleaded guilty on January 15 to two felonies, vehicular assault in the second degree, causing physical injury, and leaving the scene of an accident involving an injury, in addition to misdemeanor DWI.

Judge Senft explained that the court ordered a pre-sentence investigation report, which is an investigation into the history of the person convicted of the crime before sentencing to determine if there are extenuating circumstances that should be taken into consideration.

Since bail conditions no longer apply, court officers handcuffed Mr. Romero-Flores and took him to county jail.

Surveillance video from the night of the collision was sent to prosecutors as evidence, Mr. Irace said.

“He’s remorseful about the accident,” the attorney said of his client outside the courtroom.

For the class E felony of vehicular assault in the second degree, while also leaving the scene of the accident and causing physical injury to the victim, Mr. Romero-Flores could face 16 months to three years in jail, but also could be sentenced only to probation, Mr. Irace explained.

He said that Mr. Romero-Flores admitted to drinking before driving that evening, and he said he drove about a mile before being pulled over. “It’s still leaving the scene of the accident,” he added.

Mr. Romero-Flores is a father of two young children, Mr. Irace added, and is employed at a deli in the city. The van Mr. Romero-Flores was driving at the time of the incident was registered to Todaro Bros. Inc., an Italian grocer based in Kips Bay, Manhattan.

Mr. Irace added that the victim, Ms. Pitt, is able to walk and is back to work, and attended the last court date. He said that she said very little, and said that she hoped Mr. Romero-Flores would be “punished for leaving her lying in the road.”

Mr. Romero-Flores’s next court appearance will be on June 18.

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The only characterization of the victim's current state or a summary of her actions at the trial came from the criminal's lawyer. That is completely inappropriate. Either interview the victim and print what she tells you, or use direct quotes from a public transcript.
By East End Golfer (8), Montauk on Apr 18, 19 10:54 AM
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