Over the protests of her crash victims, who wanted to see prison time, Judge William Condon on Tuesday sentenced East Hampton real estate agent Charlotte DePersia to probation and community service for driving while intoxicated and vehicular assault.
DePersia was sentenced to 840 hours of community service, to be completed during the five years of her probation, and she will be required to submit to drug tests and wear an alcohol monitoring device. The sentence was far short of what the Suffolk County district's attorney's office sought: one and a third year to fours years in prison for her actions on the night of Nov. 27, 2010, when she drove her Land Rover into an SUV on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton while intoxicated, reportedly with a coffee cup full of red wine.
Condon said he has never before received as many letters regarding a sentencing. "Ms. DePersia, all these people want me to incarcerate you, and they're not wrong," he said after the court heard from the crash victims. "Tell me why they shouldn't."
DePersia and her attorney, Tad Scharfenberg, said in the Riverside courtroom that she has been in outpatient alcohol treatment since the accident and been called a model patient, having never failed a toxicology test. They also emphasized that she fully acknowledged that her decision to drink and get behind the wheel was her fault, and that she is sorry for the suffering she caused.
"I think the Charlotte DePersia that is standing before me today is not the Charlotte DePersia that was driving that night," Condon said.
But Condon warned her that one slip up during her probation, one urine test that comes back positive, will get her sent to an upstate prison. "Forget drinking and driving," Condon told her during sentencing. "You can never drink again."
"I have given her no margin of error," Condon told the victims, who addressed the court prior to the sentence being rendered.
But Condon's assurances that DePersia would be "living in a jail without bars" under her probation was not adequate to placate her victims.
"She's been in this position before," said Karyn Scholack, of New Jersey, outside the courtroom, referring to DePersia's past record of DWI arrests and probation. "When does it end?"
"I don't buy her staged remorse," added Scholack, who was pregnant during the crash, but said her son was born months later without evidence of trauma. She reported rib injuries from the crash, and told Condon that she had feared for her unborn child's well-being. Meanwhile, "Charlotte's life continued without skipping a beat."
Her husband, Mark Scholack, previously told Patch his back was hurt in the crash. Driving the SUV that DePersia struck was Matthew Gluck, of East Quogue, who reported being banged up in the crash, while his wife, Lindsay Soyka, had a broken nose, bruised knees and fractured eye socket; she required one facial surgery already and a second is planned.
Soyka told Condon that she wasn't able to pick up her 1-year-old son for a month following the crash. "I will never feel comfortable behind the wheel again," she said.
Included in her sentence, DePersia was fined $1,575, to be paid within six months, and her driving privileges were revoked for one year.