MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a Syosset man indicted in a hit-and-run accident that left 13 year old Bryanna Soplin dead has pleaded guilty to the top charge against him and will be sentenced to up to four years in prison.
“This collision highlights the serious nature of these crimes,” DA Rice said. “It is unthinkable that a child was left to die in the street. Nothing can bring Bryanna back; it’s a terrible tragedy for her family and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Michael Elardo, 48, pleaded guilty today to the charge he was indicted on last month, Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Incident Without Reporting (a D felony), before Nassau County Court Judge Jerald Carter. Prosecutors recommended the maximum sentence. Elardo received a commitment of 1-1/3 to 4 years in prison and is due back in court for sentencing on Oct. 14.
DA Rice also called on the state legislature to increase penalties for these crimes. Currently, the charge of Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Incident Without Reporting is a D felony carrying a maximum sentence of 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison. DA Rice has long fought for legislation to upgrade the crime to a C felony carrying a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison.
“A driver who flees the scene of a collision should not benefit from that flight,” DA Rice said. “The penalty for leaving the scene should be increased to discourage drivers from fleeing. Right now a driver may face lower charges because he has prevented a full investigation. That should never happen. The state legislature should increase the penalties, remove this benefit and pass this common-sense measure in their next session.”
About two minutes after midnight on June 15, Elardo drove a minivan on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown and struck and killed Bryanna Soplin as she crossed the street. Elardo then left the scene without stopping. Elardo surrendered for arrest by the Nassau County Police Department approximately 42 hours later, on June 16. Today in court, Elardo admitted knowing that he struck a person and left the scene.
The investigation into the underlying causes of the collision remains open.
Assistant District Attorneys Michael Bushwack and Gene Kang of DA Rice’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau are prosecuting the case. Elardo is represented by Michael DerGarabedian, Esq.