The victims of a in Bridgehampton, which left the four of them injured, including a pregnant woman, are outraged that the repeat drunk driver that sideswiped their vehicle, East Hampton real estate agent Charlotte DePersia, is not expected to serve any jail time.
“She’s got to go to jail this time,” said Matthew Gluck, who was driving his wife and friends back to East Quogue after dinner and a movie when they were hit on Montauk Highway. “You can’t possibly rationalize giving someone probation, who two other times has committed the same exact crime.”
DePersia pleaded guilty in June to felony DWI and driving with an open container of alcohol. The plea also covers charges of vehicular assault and failing to stay in her lane. Her sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 23 in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverside, where Judge William Condon has agreed to give her community service and five years of continued intensive treatment for alcohol abuse, according to DePersia’s attorney, Tad Scharfenberg.
“He has very strict constraints on her, and he has never been seen as an easy judge on any case,” Scharfenberg said of Condon. “He is a fair judge.”
The following day, she is due back in court for violating her probation from an October 2009 DWI conviction. “We still have to deal with that issue,” Scharfenberg said, though he added he believes her new DWI sentence will satisfy the probation violation.
To Gluck and wife Lindsay Soyka, and their friends Mark and Karyn Scholack of New Jersey, the sentence is far too inadequate. Gluck has been asking friends to write the judge “urging him to send Miss DePersia to jail.”
They want to “make the community aware she will be on the road again soon and will do it again,” Soyka said. “We want to prevent that.”
But Scharfenberg, who has law offices in East Hampton and Bohemia, said his client has been in treatment for alcohol abuse three hours a day, five days a week and deeply regrets her actions.
“She didn’t fight this,” Scharfenberg said. “We haven’t fought the case, and there are always issues in every case. She went in, admitted she did wrong, and pleaded guilty to everything.”
“We can’t go back in time,” he added. “We can’t make those people not injured. We wish we could. She wishes she could.”
Gluck said he was banged up in the accident; Soyka had a broken nose, bruised knees and fractured eye socket; Mark Scholack’s back was hurt; and Karyn Scholack, who was pregnant, had rib injuries.
“Thank goodness, my son was born in May and everything seems fine,” Scholack said.
Soyka had surgeries on her face in December and another surgery is planned after the swelling goes down and bones heal, she said.
“She wasn’t able to pick up our one-year-old son for a month, a heartbreaking side-effect for both my wife and for our baby,” Gluck wrote in his letter urging a harsher sentence.
Soyka said the accident could have been far worse: If her husband hadn’t turned out of DePersia’s way, her Land Rover would have hit their BMW SUV head on at full speed.