Widow of Worker Killed by Drunk Driver Urges Harsher Penalties

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Long Island widow wants the man accused of killing her husband in a drunk driving crash to receive a penalty harsher than the 3 to 7-year maximum allowable under state law. News 4's Pei-Sze Cheng has more. (Published Thursday, Jan 3, 2013)

    The widow of a man killed on the Grand Central Parkway last summer is urging harsher penalties for drunk drivers. 

    Frank Avino, 63, was replacing a light along the Grand Central Parkway at about 11 a.m. on July 10 when he was struck by the driver of an Audi.

    "He was slammed into the windshield and flew 75 feet into the back of a work truck," recounted his widow, Patricia Avino. "As far as I'm concerned, that's a violent crime. He might as well have had a gun in his hand." 

    The Queens District Attorney's office said 26-year-old Munshi Abdullah was driving the Audi and his blood alcohol content was .18 percent. The legal limit in New York state is .08 percent. 

    Abdullah was charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter and driving without a valid license. According to sentencing guidelines, he could face three to seven years in prison if he is convicted. For Avino, even that potential maximum is too light a sentence.

    Frank "left the house that morning to go to work and never came home, all because of this senseless horrible act," said Patricia Avino. "In a few years, this driver will be out and doing whatever. And me and my family, my children, we have a life sentence now. We have to live without Frank." 

    Avino's family was let down by the justice system once before. Eight years ago, she said, her 21-year-old nephew was also killed by a drunk driver. The man convicted in the case avoided jail and served 60 days in rehab.

    In a statement, Queens DA Richard Brown said, "This is a sad and tragic case in which a hardworking man lost his life. We will follow the law and the facts in this case."

    A spokesman for the DA says no formal plea deal has been offered.

    Abdullah is currently in jail, unable to make his $350,000 bail. His next court date in Jan. 29. Calls to his attorney were not returned. 

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