MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Former Carmel police officer and Town Board member Richard O’Keefe was officially sentenced Wednesday (May 3) to a year in jail and revocation of his license after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide, a class E felony, back in February. As part of the plea deal, O’Keefe also agreed to refrain from reapplying for a license for one year after his release from jail.
A New York State Police investigation revealed that on Nov. 14, 2015, O’Keefe, also a former Mahopac School Board member, was driving at an excessive rate of speed (between 52 and 58 mph) on Route 6 in Mahopac when his vehicle collided with a Jeep Patriot driven by Anna Estrada. The collision caused the vehicle driven by Estrada to roll onto its passenger side and collide with a third vehicle causing fatal injuries to Frances Ghelarducci, a Somers teacher’s aide, who was seated in the rear of the Jeep.
Putnam County District Attorney Robert Tendy said O’Keefe refused to consent to a chemical screening of his blood sample, so an order was issued compelling submission to a chemical test. The sample revealed a blood-alcohol content of .09 percent. New York State Police extrapolated O’Keefe's blood-alcohol content to be .247 percent at the time of the collision.
Estrada voluntarily consented to a chemical screening of her blood sample, which showed no sign of alcohol or drugs.
The collision reconstruction report revealed that the primary cause of the collision was the vehicle driven by Estrada failed to yield the right of way to O’Keefe’s vehicle; however, contributing factors to the collision were the speed at which O’Keefe was traveling and the fact that he was operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
"Our community continues to mourn the loss of a wonderful person who had such a positive impact on so many," Tendy said. "Frances was a beloved wife, mother and teacher’s aide at Primrose Elementary School and is missed dearly by all".
The case was prosecuted by first assistant district attorney Chana Krauss.