MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Muttontown man was convicted today of manslaughter for a race that ended in a fatal crash on the Long Island Expressway in February 2017.
Areefeen Hirji, 21, was convicted by a jury 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)
The trial, before Acting Supreme Court Justice Fran Ricigliano, lasted a week and a half and the jury deliberated for a day and a half. The defendant is due back for sentencing on January 17 when and faces a maximum of seven-and-a-third to 22 years in prison.
Hirji’s co-defendant and fellow racer, Jonnathan Santos, 22, of Manhasset, pled guilty on October 9 before Acting Supreme Court Justice Fran Ricigliano 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. He is expected to be sentenced to three to nine years in prison on January 15.
“Everything about this crash is a tragedy from the young life lost to the young defendants convicted of their crimes,” DA Singas said. “This defendant not only raced and collided with the other car, but he also fled and later tried to bully eyewitnesses into pinning the blame on another person. This verdict sends a strong message that drivers who turn our roadways into racetracks will not be tolerated in Nassau County.”
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. At the time of the crash, at exit 44, both vehicles were traveling more than 120 MPH. 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.