NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced that a 40-year-old New Brunswick man admitted to driving recklessly when he struck and killed a bicyclist in the city more than three years ago.
Timothy Puskas pleaded guilty on Aug. 31 to a count of second degree vehicular homicide, admitting he was driving the vehicle that killed Leonel Lopez Hernandez, 26, of New Brunswick on January 25, 2012.
Under a plea agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Sheree Pitchford, the defendant is expected to be sentenced to serve eight years in a New Jersey state prison.
In addition, he will be required to serve at least 85 percent of the prison term before he will be eligible for parole.
The sentencing is set for October 14 by Superior Court Judge Diane Pincus in New Brunswick.
The defendant was arrested and charged on January 27, 2012, following an intensive investigation by Officer Hector Lugo of the New Brunswick Police Department and Detective Greg Morris and Lt. Paul Miller, both of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
The investigation began when Puskas, who was driving a 1998 Toyota 4Runner, fled on Georges Road in New Brunswick after striking Hernandez at 10:53 p.m. on January 25, 2012.
Hernandez was riding his bike home from Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he worked as a custodian.
The investigation determined that Puskas was driving on Georges Road and heading toward North Brunswick when he crossed into the oncoming traffic lane and struck Hernandez, who was on the side of the road near the South Talmadge Street intersection.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
A co-defendant in the case, Stephen Gallo, 38, of Milltown, previously pleaded guilty to a charge of hindering the apprehension of Puskas by helping hide the Toyota 4Runner.
Under a plea agreement, Gallo, who was a passenger in the Toyota on the night of the hit-and-run incident, is expected to be sentenced to serve a probationary term of up to five years. No sentencing date has been set.