Peter Rodriguez pled guilty last week to two felonies in connection with the death of George Gibbons, a popular Maspeth bar owner who was on his way home from work early in the morning on October 15 when the livery cab he was riding in was struck by a car driven by Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was driving the wrong way down a frontage road of the Long Island Expressway near 58th Road when he hit the cab.
Given the circumstances – the accident occurred at a time that suggests a night of partying, there was marijuana in the car, Rodriguez has a lengthy criminal history involving violence and drugs – there’s a good chance that Rodriguez was under the influence, and that it likely contributed to the accident.
But we’ll never know, because Rodriguez fled the scene and wasn’t arrested until a month later, when he was finally tracked down in Connecticut.
By doing the wrong thing – again – Rodriguez possibly did himself a huge favor.
If a sobriety test could have been administered at the scene, and it was found that Rodriguez was indeed drunk or high, given his lengthy arrest record, he would have faced much more serious charges and could have been looking at 25 years behind bars.
Instead, when Rodriguez is sentenced on May 7, he will instead be facing 3 ½ to 7 years in jail. That’s hardly a punishment fitting the crime.
Maybe it would be a different story if this were the first time that Rodriguez ran afoul of the law, but it’s not. Not by a long shot.
Rodriguez has been arrested numerous times, and not on minor charges like possessing a small amount of marijuana or petit larceny. No, Rodriguez's crimes are serious and they are violent and they are a pattern. There’s no reason to think that a few more years behind bars will reform Rodriguez.
The Gibbons family will get a chance to tell a judge at the sentencing how Rodriguez has forever changed their lives, and hopefully the judge listens carefully and gives Rodriguez the full seven years.
And let’s hope that they won’t have to do the same thing all over again before a parole board just a few short years from now.