NEW YORK - His wife's plea for leniency rejected, a former police officer
was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison for a drunken-driving crash
killed a family of four.
Joseph Gray, 41, was led from the courtroom in handcuffs to begin his
term after he received the maximum sentence Thursday. He apologized to the
victims' families, who were in court for the sentencing.
"I think he's sorry," said Victor Herrera, whose pregnant wife was killed
in the crash. "But I also believe that's too late for us."
Gray, who quit the force three weeks after last year's accident, has
jailed since his May 3 manslaughter conviction.
Gray's wife, Diana, asked state Supreme Court Justice Anne Feldman for
leniency. The 15-year veteran policeman and his wife have three
But Feldman said that while she believed Gray was "fully remorseful,"
maximum term was needed as a deterrent to drunken driving.
According to prosecutors, Gray was on a 12-hour drinking binge that began
in the parking lot of the 72nd Precinct and led to the Wild Wild West
topless bar before he drove his minivan into the family as they crossed
Brooklyn street last Aug. 4.
Maria Herrera was killed along with her 4-year-old-son, Andy, and her
16-year-old sister, Dilcia Pena, when Gray sped through a red light. Herrera
delivered a son, Ricardo, after the accident, but he died within hours of
Gray offered an unusual defense at trial, conceding that he was driving
while intoxicated but insisting his high alcohol tolerance gave him the
ability to drive. His blood alcohol content was measured at 0.16; the legal
limit is 0.10.
Gray's boozing with fellow officers in the parking lot and later
at the off-limits strip club resulted in the suspension or
reassignment of 17 officers. It also raised questions about alcohol abuse
the Police Department, prompting officials to crack down on other officers
accused of drunken driving.
After the sentencing hearing, Herrera became incensed by the suggestion
that Gray might appeal.
"He should accept the 15 years, shut his mouth and think about what he
did," Herrera said