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Posted on: May 30, 2019

Racing Drivers Sentenced to Prison Time for Fatal 2017 Crash on the Long Island Expressway

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MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that two Nassau County men have been sentenced for their roles in a fatal 2017 crash on the Long Island Expressway.

Jonnathan Santos, 22, of Manhasset, was sentenced yesterday to three to nine years in prison by Acting Supreme Court Justice Fran Ricigliano. He pleaded guilty on October 9, 2018, to Manslaughter in the Second Degree (a C Felony) and Driving While Ability Impaired by the Combined Influence of Alcohol and Drugs (an unclassified misdemeanor) in satisfaction of the indictment.

Santos’ co-defendant and fellow racer, Areefeen Hirji, 22, of Muttontown, was sentenced February 26 to 3-1/2 years to 10-1/2 years in prison by Acting Supreme Court Justice Fran Ricigliano. He was convicted by a jury on December 19, 2018 of:

  • Manslaughter in the Second Degree (a C felony)
  • Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting (a D felony)
  • Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree (an A misdemeanor)
  • Making a Punishable False Written Statement (an A misdemeanor)
  • Reckless Driving (an unclassified misdemeanor)

“A young man with his entire life in front of him, was taken from his family and friends because of these defendants’ reckless actions,” DA Singas said. “While no sentence can bring Mr. Peralta back to his family, we do hope it brings them some solace.”

DA Singas said on February 23, 2017, at approximately 11:48 pm, both defendants were racing eastbound on the LIE just west of the overpass for Route 135. Santos was driving a 2015 BMW 528i, while Hirji was driving a 2017 Honda Accord. Both vehicles were traveling more than 120 miles per hour before crashing into one another. The impact of their cars caused the BMW to spin out and collide with a guardrail and a pickup truck.

The passenger in the backseat driver’s side of the BMW, Gianfranco Peralta, 19, of Manhasset, was ejected from the car and died on the scene. Two other passengers in the BMW were treated for minor injuries. Santos was impaired by alcohol and drugs at the time of the crash and arrested at the scene by members of the NCPD, while Hirji fled the scene. Two days after the incident, Hirji reported to Second Precinct, where he initially gave a false statement, saying another passenger in the vehicle was driving the car at the time of the crash. He later admitted to driving and was arrested on February 25, 2017.

Assistant District Attorneys Stephanie Dellinger and Katie Zizza of DA Singas’ Vehicular Crimes Bureau are prosecuting the case. Stephen Scaring, Esq., represents Hirji and Vincent Bianco, Esq. represents Santos.

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