Mad-dash chases with the police are apparently nothing new for Schenectady resident Natasha Popolizio.
The 25-year-old city woman who allegedly led city police on a 23-minute pursuit that ended with her crashing through a TrustCo Bank in Rotterdam on Thursday already has served jail time for a similar incident in Gloversville six years earlier. In fact, her latest brush with the law comes just more than a month after she was released on parole from her conviction in Fulton County on reckless endangerment and unlicensed operation charges.
On Friday, Popolizio was arraigned on the same two charges as she lay in bed at the Albany Medical Center Hospital. Only this time, she also faces a second reckless endangerment charge, in addition to possession of a controlled substance, unlawful fleeing from a police officer, possession of marijuana and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Popolizio also is facing traffic violations —a lot of them. Police say she racked up a total of 41 tickets as she led them on a high-speed pursuit that snaked through the city, onto Interstate 890 and into the side of the brick bank building early Thursday evening.
“She definitely wasn’t stopping,” said Lt. Mark McCracken, a spokesman for the Schenectady Police Department.
Also charged was passenger Margariata Lopez, 22, of Schenectady, who was arraigned on one criminal-possession count in Schenectady City Court on Friday. Another occupant — a 14-year-old boy — was referred to Schenectady County Family Court, according to investigators.
Police initially received a report that a passenger in a gray Ford Escape was menacing people with a pistol. McCracken said at least one person reported being shot with what investigators believe was a pellet gun.
But when a patrol car tried to flag down Popolizio’s vehicle on Albany Street, she took off, police said. During the chase, police said, Popolizio ignored traffic lights, traveled the wrong way down one-way streets and nearly clipped a pedestrian as she sped down Broadway near the I-890 ramp.
The chase even garnered attention from a state police helicopter, which followed the pursuit. Popolizio’s vehicle was cruising around a curve on Altamont Avenue when it hopped a curb and slammed into the window of the TrustCo.
McCracken said Popolizio was conscious enough at the scene that she took flight inside the bank. He said police eventually pulled her our of the basement of the building.
Investigators later recovered a small amount of crack cocaine from the vehicle. Popolizio was also found with more than two ounces of marijuana and had a total of 22 active suspensions on her license, police said.
Records show Popolizio is no stranger to area law enforcement. In 2005, she was arrested on a robbery charge after she and another individual allegedly ambushed a man on Elder Street, taking cash and marijuana from him; the resolution of that charge was not immediately available.
Two years later, Gloversville police were called to a Spring Street residence, where they received a report of a woman kicking in a door. The responding officer found her getting into a vehicle by the home and the driving past him, touching off a chase through the city, police said.
The pursuit ended when Popolizio crashed her car into grave markers on display at Pickett Memorial Co. and then two poles at the Crocetta Service Station on East Fulton Street. Popolizio was taken to Albany Med with injuries that weren’t life-threatening.
The case was delayed until 2010 because Popolizio left the area, according to published reports. She was sentenced to serve up to four years in prison and was paroled on June 21, according to records.
In addition to her latest arrest, Popolizio also faces charges in Rotterdam. Lt. Jason Murphy anticipates she could face counts of endangering and criminal mischief in the town.
“Charges will be forthcoming,” he said.