Linden police officer involved in fatal wrong-way crash suspended

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Anthony Johnson has the details from Linden. (WABC)

A New Jersey police officer charged in a deadly wrong-way crash in New York has been suspended from his job.

Linden police say that Pedro Abad was suspended Monday, the same day he pleaded not guilty to charges he was drunk behind the wheel in the March 20 crash on Staten Island that killed off-duty Linden police officer Frank Viggiano and friend Joseph Rodriguez. Officer Patrik Kudlac was critically injured.

City officials say Abad was removed from the municipal payroll in May. But he remained an unpaid member of the force until the city received and reviewed official notice of the indictment and the charges against Abad.

It's unclear if Abad is still receiving disability pay.

Officer Pedro Abad, Jr., surrendered to police at the 120th Precinct before appearing in state court and pleadeding not guilty to a 27-count indictment that includes aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges. Bail was set at $25,000, and Abad had to surrender his passport and driver's license. He used crutches to assist his walk into the precinct, and he was also briefly in a wheelchair. His attorney says he is still recovering from leg injuries, and that one arm is disabled and his speech is slightly impaired because of a diminished mental capacity.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

The crash occurred after the men had left a strip club in March. Prosecutors say Abad crashed head-on into a tractor-trailer, and tests later showed his blood alcohol content was 0.24. The legal limit in New York is 0.08.

Frank Viggiano, a second off-duty Linden police officer, and Joseph Rodriguez - both 28 - died in the crash. A third officer, Patrik Kudlac, was critically injured.

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."

Abad, 27, had two drunken-driving arrests in the last four years, including one for an accident in which he plowed through the wall of a convenience store, records show.

He was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence in Roselle, New Jersey, in January 2011 after his car "put a hole completely through the building" housing a supermarket, a police report said. Abad was issued a summons for driving under the influence and reckless driving, but apparently the case didn't conclude in any citations or violations, the state Motor Vehicle Commission said.

Thirteen months later, Abad was charged with DUI in Rahway, New Jersey. A police dashboard camera video showed him weaving, wobbling and slurring his words as he attempted to complete a field sobriety test.

Abad's lawyer was asked whether his client has any remorse.

"He's upset, he's upset as you would expect somebody to be," said attorney Mario Gallucci. "This wasn't fun and games, he's upset. He lost two friends and hurt another."

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accidentcrashwrong wayofficer chargedLinden
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