Crime and Courts
Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Alleged Drunk Cop in Deadly Wrong-Way Crash Hiring New Attorney: Lawyer

A lawyer for the New Jersey police officer who law enforcement sources say had a blood alcohol content three times the legal limit when he hit a tractor-trailer head-on on a Staten Island highway last month, killing a fellow officer and a friend and critically injuring a third cop, says his client is in the process of hiring a new attorney and offered no comment on the case.

The NYPD, which is investigating the March 20 wrong-way crash on the West Shore Expressway, also had no comment on the toxicology results of Pedro Abad Jr., which showed a blood alcohol level of .24 percent, according to sources familiar with the case.

Abad, 27, was driving his fellow officers and friend on the wrong side of the expressway on the way back from a strip club when his vehicle slammed into the tractor-trailer, authorities said.

Hours before the crash, Abad had posted a photo on his Instagram page of three shot glasses filled with what he identified as "Jack Daniels Fire on the house."

Authorities said at the time it was "too premature" to speculate on what caused the accident. They later obtained a warrant to test Abad's blood.

Abad was hospitalized in critical condition following the crash, which killed fellow Linden officer Frank Viggiano and friend Joseph Rodriguez. Patrik Kudlac, another Linden cop riding in Abad's Honda, was also hospitalized in critical condition after the crash.

Kudlac's mother told NBC 4 New York Monday he was doing better. 

The Union County prosecutor's office has said it would hand off the probe into the driving record and employment history of Abad to avoid the perception of any conflicts of interest. The state attorney general's office said the investigation will be handled by the Middlesex County prosecutor's office.

Public records show Abad has been involved in eight accidents since 2005 and has two arrests for drunken driving in the last four years. 

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