DWAI – Drugs Conviction

CARMEL- A Kent man who lead police on a multiple jurisdiction chase while high on Phencycladine or PCP received the maximum jail time and fines allowed by law when he was sentenced Wednesday by Putnam County Supreme Court Judge James Rooney.

William E. Mancusi, III, 38, was observed driving the wrong way down a one-way street in September 2013, but fled when Kent Police Officer Stephen Kelleher attempted to stop him. This sparked a pursuit involving multiple police agencies and which crossed several jurisdictions before Mancusi was apprehended.

This is Mancusi’s second conviction for impaired driving, and he faces unrelated drug charges in Westchester. District Attorney Adam Levy has made the aggressive prosecution of impaired drivers- especially repeat offenders- a top priority in his administration.

“Habitually impaired drivers are a danger to all law-abiding citizens in Putnam, and when they re-offend, they will be held accountable,” District Attorney Adam Levy said. “Clearly, Mancusi has not learned from his mistakes, and for the safety and security of all Putnam residents, prison is where he belongs.”

In addition to the maximum prison sentence imposed by the court, Levy also sought remedies under the Asset Forefeiture statute to seize the van Mancsui was driving.

When he was apprehended following the chase, Mancusi lied to police, telling arresting officers he was taking a legal prescription drug which helps diminish withdrawal symptoms for those trying to beat drug addiction. However, specially trained Drug Recognition Expert Officer Kevin Radovich quickly recognized Mancusi was exhibiting symptoms consistent with a dissociative anesthetic: PCP, also known as Angel Dust. Officer Radovich’s keen observations were later confirmed via blood samples sent to the New York State Police Crime Lab.

Following a trial, a Putnam County jury found Mancusi guilty of  Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs, a Class E felony, Reckless Driving, Failure to Comply with the Direction of a Police Officer, Failure to Keep Right, and a violation of driving the wrong way down a one way street.

He was sentenced to 4 years for DWAI, a Class E felony, plus a $1500 fine, and 1 year for Reckless Driving, served concurrently.  He was fined $100 each for the remaining infractions he was convicted of.

In 2008, Mancusi was convicted in Dutchess County for his role in the Fishkill  hit and run death of bicyclist Alfred Poggiogalle, a married father of two. Mancusi was high on morphine and marijuana at the time.

Mancusi’s current case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Joseph A. Charbonneau and Assistant District Attorney Sarah Crabtree.  Officer Kevin Radovich, who recently moved from the Kent Police Department to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, is especially commended for quickly and accurately assessing Mancusi’s mental status, as well as the New York State Police Crime Lab and Forensic Scientists Jolene Bierley and Joseph Knapik, for confirming the presence of PCP in Mancusi’s blood.