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January 4, 2007

Valencia Convicted of Assault in "Wrong Way" Crash

Queens man found guilty, faces up to 25 years in prison

MINEOLA, NY - Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that a Nassau County judge has found Albeiro Valencia, 44, of Elmhurst, guilty of Assault in the First Degree, under the ‘depraved indifference to human life’ theory of the state statute. Mr. Valencia was also found guilty of Assault in the Second Degree and Driving While Intoxicated.

Just after 10:00 P.M. on November 17, 2005, the defendant, Albeiro Valencia, was observed driving northbound in the southbound lanes of the Wantagh State Parkway near the Jones Beach toll booths. He continued northbound, traveling in the wrong direction, for nearly four miles, passing five oncoming vehicles as he approached Sunrise Highway. At approximately 10:15PM, the defendant crashed head-on into Michael Ovadia’s Lexus SUV, destroying the vehicle and causing serious injuries to Mr. Ovadia. The defendant continued northbound and crashed into a Mitsubishi SUV, causing injuries to driver Chris Engert. Emergency personnel were forced to use the Jaws of Life to extract the defendant from his mangled vehicle. Upon arriving at the scene, ambulance personnel were asked by a belligerent Mr. Valencia what emergency personnel were doing to his vehicle. Mr. Valencia at one point, in responding to an AMT’s question about his knowledge of the fact that people had been injured, stated “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Blood taken from the defendant at Nassau University Medical Center within two hours of the crash indicated his blood-alcohol level was .21%, more than twice the legal limit. While the origin of the defendant’s trip is unknown, it is believed he was traveling to his home in Elmhurst, Queens.

Mr. Valencia faces a maximum of 25 years in prison at his February 14 sentencing. Thursday’s verdict was handed down by the Honorable George R. Peck, Nassau County Court Judge.

Assistant District Attorneys Robert Schalk and Joseph Tripi, both of the County Court Trial Bureau, handled the case for the District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Valencia is being represented by Steven Barnwell, Esq., of Mineola.