Police officers. Tasked with knowing the law, upholding the law, and abiding by the law. For years cops have been afforded the benefit of the doubt. Scrutiny of the profession has been restricted to just the most glaring of cases… but as society dictates a closer review it has become ever-so-apparent that police officers will break the law given the opportunity and right amount of motivation. Just like the community they patrol or prey depending on your perspective. Well last week two officers have confirmed that observation having been charged for a hit-and-run involving a teenager on a skateboard.
The Leader-Herald reports two Montgomery county sheriff’s officers have been arrested and placed on paid administrative leave following a hit-and-run incident that took place last month.
You read that correctly. They were ARRESTED and then placed on PAID leave after a hit-and-run accident. The officer FLED the scene! Yet another “perk” of being an officer.
The incident took place last month on Northern Boulevard in the town of Amsterdam. It is alleged that 46-year-old Roberto Gracia, a 15-year veteran Montgomery County investigator, was driving a personal vehicle on Northern Boulevard on the evening of July 11 around 9 p.m., when 18-year-old Julian Louscher, who was skateboarding on Northern Boulevard, was struck by Gracia’s car.
So who is the second officer you may be wondering. That officer is 48-year-old Theresa Pingitore. Pingitore, a 29-year veteran, knew about the accident and attempted to help Gracia cover it up. Both officers hail from Amsterdam.
The Daily Gazette reports:
During the course of the investigation, deputies said it was determined Pingitore also knew about the accident and failed to perform her duty as a police officer by not reporting it.
Amato said investigators have determined that Gracia and Pingitore had been corresponding, but did not describe the method they had used to do that.
Deputies say Louscher was hit by the right front corner of Gracia’s car. News and arrest reports reveal that the teenager rolled over the hood of the car and cracked the windshield, cutting his head, shoulder and arm. Gracia reportedly had another child in the car at the time of the accident but left the scene without reporting the incident. Gracia exchanged words with the teenager prior to leaving the scene. Louscher used his cellphone to take photos of Gracia and his vehicle as he left the scene.
At approximately 12:45 p.m. on July 12, the sheriff’s office received a call from an unnamed individual — whom they presume to be a relative of the victim — requesting they perform a welfare check on Louscher. Responders, which included members of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office and the state police, then met with 18-year-old Louscher whereupon the incident was made known to police and an investigation was opened.
“The other deputy, Pingitore found out about the incident and failed to report it to the sheriff’s or the police agency,” Montgomery County Sheriff Michael Amato said.
The person who first reported the accident to the Sheriff’s Department was a woman, but Amato did not give any specifics about her. It is safe to assume that the woman is Louscher’s mother.
Gracia is charged with failure to report a personal injury accident and professional misconduct for failing to perform his duty as a police officer. Both charges are misdemeanors. He has also been charged with tampering with evidence, a class E felony. Pingitore is charged with professional misconduct, a misdemeanor.
“We secured the car, we felt there might have been some things touched on the car, and we had forensics done on it and our assumption is that something might have been done and that warranted that charge,” Amato said during the news conference. “We went back to the scene, or the best that we could, to figure out where it might have happened, but unfortunately the road was paved within a 24 hour period, it was repaved.”
When asked if Gracia was under the influence when he struck the teenager Amato said that it couldn’t be proven. There was no evidence to indicate that was the case and the incident did not reach authorities for over 12 hours after the incident.
Gracia has been with the department for 15 years. Pingitore has worked in the department for 29 years. Both officers are with the Criminal Investigations Unit in New York.