MONTGOMERY COUNTY -- While the misdemeanor professional misconduct charge against Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy Theresa Pingitore was dismissed in Amsterdam Town Court in January, the special prosecutor in the case is appealing the dismissal to Montgomery County Court.
Pingitore, 48, of Amsterdam, was charged with the misdemeanor based on allegations that she did not report an incident in July in which a Montgomery County sheriff's deputy struck a teenager with his car and then left the scene of the accident without reporting it. The deputy, Roberto Gracia, 46, of Amsterdam, allegedly told Pingitore about the collision. Gracia has since resigned as part of a guilty plea deal.
Schenectady County Assistant District Attorney Eamonn Neary, the special prosecutor assigned to Pingitore's case, said he received Amsterdam Town Justice Herbert Menge's decision to dismiss the case against Pingitore "with prejudice" by mail on Jan. 18.
Dismissal with prejudice means the charges can't be reformulated and refiled, an option that exists when a judge dismisses a case without prejudice, Neary said.
Neary said he filed an appeal of Menge's ruling to Montgomery County Court in February, but has not yet filed his brief in support of the appeal. No court hearing date has been set for the case.
Neary was also the special prosecutor for the case against Gracia, who was charged with felony evidence tampering and misdemeanor charges of failure to report a personal injury accident and professional misconduct.
The charges against the two deputies originate from July 11, when Gracia was driving his personal vehicle on Northern Boulevard in the town of Amsterdam and struck Julian Louscher, 18, who was riding his skateboard.
Police said Louscher was hit by the right front corner of Gracia's car and suffered cuts and scrapes to his head, left shoulder and arm. Louscher and Gracia "exchanged words" and then Gracia drove away from the scene, but not before Louscher used his cellphone to take photos of Gracia and his vehicle, police said.
The charges against Gracia were filed in two different courts. The felony evidence tampering charge was filed in Amsterdam City Court and was dismissed in exchange for a plea deal in which Gracia agreed to resign from his job and plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of official misconduct and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. The case was settled in Amsterdam Town Court in December.
Montgomery County Sheriff Jeff Smith, who took office in January, said Pingitore "settled her departmental discipline" before he took office, and she has returned to work at the Sheriff's Department.
When the arrest of Gracia and Pingitore was announced in August, former Montgomery County Sheriff Michael Amato said investigators had determined that Gracia and Pingitore had been corresponding after the incident, but did not describe the method of that correspondence. The Gazette filed a Freedom of Information Law request with Montgomery County for any text messages sent between Gracia and Pingitore starting with July 11 up until the time the two were placed on paid administrative leave.