SCHENECTADY -- The Schenectady police officer who pleaded guilty to a driving while ability impaired charge in May has taken a job working for his stepfather, Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino.
Daniel Coppola is now a patrol deputy with the Sheriff’s Department, according to Dagostino. He said he has been on the job for approximately three weeks.
Dagostino brushed off the notion that hiring his stepson as a patrol deputy could be viewed as nepotism. He said that he hired “a quality candidate,” and added that Coppola will be treated the same as any of his other employees.
“He probably has it worse than the other employees,” Dagostino said. “I’m very tough and very demanding, especially with my own.”
Dagostino said Coppola had put in a request for the position. The civil service test and training Coppola took to become a police officer also made him qualified to work in the office, Dagostino said.
Dagostino also said they did the required background check they do for all candidates, along with taking Coppola’s recent guilty plea to a DWAI into consideration.
“He certainly knows what the expectations are here,” Dagostino said. “He knows if he doesn’t live up to those expectations, he won’t be here.”
Coppola had been charged with driving while intoxicated during the early morning hours of May 13 after he was involved in a car crash at the intersection of Broadway and Liberty Street, just three blocks away from the Schenectady Police Department.
The accident was caused by a car that ran a red light that hit Coppola’s car, police said. The driver of that car, 27-year-old Yireh Pino, operated the car with a suspended license, according to police.
Police Chief Eric Clifford previously said Coppola called in the accident.
Clifford did not return a request for comment on Coppola’s move over to the Sheriff’s Department.
According to 911 audio obtained by The Daily Gazette through a Freedom of Information Law Request, Pino did as well. She could be heard on the audio saying, “I just got T-boned.”
Pino was charged May 18 with disobeying a traffic control device, a violation, and misdemeanor third-degree unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
Previous attempts by The Daily Gazette to reach Pino have been unsuccessful.
An arrest report for Coppola showed he had a blood alcohol content of 0.12 percent more than two hours after the crash occurred. The report also revealed Coppola told police he had been at 20 North Broadway and Union Inn, and that he said he only had two beers over the course of the evening.
The legal threshold for DWI is 0.08 percent.
Coppola later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of DWAI.
An internal investigation was conducted to look into Coppola’s case and was completed in May.
Coppola was later suspended, but a spokesman for the department would not say whether it was with or without pay, nor would he said for how long. He also wouldn’t say whether the suspension was the result of the internal investigation into Coppola.
City officials have cited a state civil rights law that prevents them from detailing disciplinary actions taken against police officers.
Coppola had finished his suspension term and was back to work at the Police Department before leaving for the Sheriff’s Department, according to Sgt. Jeffrey McCutcheon.