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Aug 9, 2011 3:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Quogue Couple Fears That Twice-Convicted DWI Driver Won't Face Jail Time

Aug 10, 2011 10:45 AM

Lindsay Soyka never thought that a night at the movies would end with her, her husband, Matthew Gluck, and two of their closest friends—one of whom had recently learned that she was pregnant—being rushed via ambulance to Southampton Hospital.

But that is exactly what happened on November 27, 2010, after an admitted drunk driver—an East Hampton woman who authorities said had also been convicted of a previous DWI charge in 2009—crossed over the double-yellow line on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton and slammed her Land Rover into the driver’s side of Mr. Gluck’s BMW. The force of the collision propelled the BMW into a nearby embankment, seriously injuring Ms. Soyka and her good friend, Karyn Scholack.

Though Mr. Gluck and Ms. Scholack’s husband, Mark, escaped with minor bumps and bruises, Ms. Soyka and Ms. Scholack were not so lucky. Ms. Soyka suffered a broken nose, an injury that has required multiple surgeries to fix, while Ms. Scholack broke one of her ribs—a painful injury that she had to contend with for the duration of her pregnancy.

Today, almost nine months later, all four victims are concerned that the woman charged with DWI—Charlotte DePersia, a real estate agent and East Hampton resident, who pleaded guilty on June 21 to her actions that night—will not face any jail time when she is sentenced on Wednesday, August 24, in Suffolk County 1st District Court in Central Islip. As a result, they are asking their relatives, neighbors and other residents to write letters to Judge William Condon, expressing their outrage and demanding a stiffer sentence.

“Think about that for a moment,” said Mr. Gluck who, along with his wife, split their time between their home in East Quogue and Manhattan throughout the year. “We are talking about somebody who has been convicted of drinking and driving multiple times and has now caused serious injuries ... Shouldn’t this person be sentenced to spend at least some time behind bars?”

Late last year, Ms. DePersia was indicted by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office on charges of DWI and vehicular assault, both felonies, as well as driving with an open container of alcohol in her car and crossing the median, both traffic violations. As part of the guilty plea, Ms. DePersia—who could not be reached for comment—agreed to seek counseling for her condition, which she has already done, according to the DA’s office.

Court records reveal that Ms. DePersia must also pay a $500 fine, as well as a $25 court processing fee and a $370 surcharge, when she appears before Judge Condon later this month. In addition, Ms. DePersia will have her license revoked and will be on probation for the next three years.

But those conditions are far too light, according to Ms. Soyka and Mr. Gluck, who, along with their two friends from New Jersey, now have to live with physical and emotional scars. That is the main reason why they are petitioning the judge and asking their friends and neighbors to do the same.

On Tuesday afternoon, Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, said Mr. Spota is recommending that Ms. DePersia receive the maximum sentence of 16 months to four years in state prison.

As for Mr. Gluck, he said the idea of Ms. DePersia receiving probation for a crime that has so deeply changed his life is appalling. “We must convince Judge Condon that regardless of Ms. DePersia’s high standing in the community, she must receive proper punishment: jail time,” Mr. Gluck wrote in an email.

Ms. DePersia at one point worked as a real estate broker for The Corcoran Group, though the company’s website no longer lists her as a current employee.

Ms. DePersia’s attorney, Tad Scharfenberg of Bohemia, said on Tuesday evening that while he understands the victims are upset with the idea of his client not serving jail time, he maintains that incarceration will not solve anything. He added that Ms. DePersia has been voluntarily receiving treatment at an intensive alcohol rehabilitation treatment program on Long Island for the past several months. He declined to identify the center.

“Instead of fighting it, which was her right to do, she pretty early on pleaded guilty to everything,” Mr. Scharfenberg said of Ms. DePersia. “She’s done everything she could since the time of this incident to make things right. She’s been in treatment for months.”

He added that Ms. DePersia is horrified to find herself in the situation again. “She’s so sorry for what has happened,” Mr. Scharfenberg said. “She’s done everything she can to try and make it better.”

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Sounds like Ms. DePersia should have become a teacher in the ESM school district...then she would have been able to get at least 4 DWI's before it became a problem.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Aug 9, 11 6:06 PM
This women should of been put behind bars a long time ago, or should we wait for another victim? Ms Depersia should be punished to the fullest extent the law allows.
By BlueStreak (34), East End on Aug 9, 11 7:48 PM
It sounds like this drunk driver has friends in high places ! Thank God the injuries weren't more serious, but this plea bargaining for a felony conviction is B.S !
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Aug 9, 11 8:07 PM
2 members liked this comment
Whether Ms. DePersia should spend time in jail is a matter for the criminal court.

However, "those damages not recoverable through no-fault insurance. . ." as stated in the article are - - - long-term medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and anything else that the victims' lawyers can think of. That is to say, everything that everyone injured in an automobile accident normally sues for.

The juries in the civil cases will consider the judges ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 9, 11 11:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
REALLY?! How many times has "ms.depersia" driven drunk, and not gotten into an accident, or one that could be traced to her.
By just breath (82), yuck on Aug 10, 11 8:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By typical (63), southampton on Aug 10, 11 9:25 AM
Have you ever noticed that it's not the drunks who are injured in these accidents? The laws need to be changed. One DWI should yield one year in jail and a $100,000 fine. Your second - 2 years & $200,000, etc. I can
guarantee no one will be drinking & driving if that were the case.
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Aug 10, 11 9:55 AM
So true about the financial threat. However, DWIs are big business, too...courts, lawyers, etc. but no revenue can replace maimed or killed motorists by drunk drivers!
By beachgirl70 (7), Southampton on Aug 14, 11 12:31 AM
I thought that getting caught driving drunk three times meant mandatory jail time. Why is this woman being allowed to walk away just because she's getting counseling? Of course she getting counseling, but it doesn't prove she's stopped drinking and driving. I know someone who also got it after being caught twice, but she's drinking again. It's a matter of time before both get picked up again - God help us.
Aug 10, 11 11:31 AM appended by goldenrod
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Aug 10, 11 11:31 AM
I would never condone drinking and driving. And thank God this isn't more awful than it could have been.
Let the courts handle it. Not the press.
I don't see how a judge could possibly let this get by with such a minimal sentence after reading this article. Which leads me to believe that there is more to this story.

By ADAMSG (53), EAST QUOGUE on Aug 10, 11 12:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
the press and star will not handle this incident as they should knowing that Gary DePersia and Corcoran put many, many thousand dollars of ads every week (you have no doubt seen his very wide smile with obviously capped and bleached teeth) and what paper would like to lose that ?!? three strikes you are out and thank God no one else was taken out. time for the courts to stop being easy on multiple offenders. just because no one was killed (thank God) who knows how many were saved because she ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Aug 11, 11 6:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
with the amount of advertising Gary DePersia does with the press and star who thinks this will get attention????
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Aug 11, 11 8:44 PM
might as well do all the judging you want right here. There is NO justice in the court system. Today marks 2 yrs ago that my (15 yr old) son was killed by a drunk driver (repeat offender) here in Hampton Bays. What did she get? 6 months! Suffolk County DA's office sucks. They'll plead her out too. What the hell, no one was killed, maybe she'll get time served. They all belong behind bars, even the DA's and judges.
By my2goldens (12), Hampton Bays on Aug 13, 11 6:05 PM
Don't worry she completed her cocktail college, and paid her $700 fine she's cured. What a joke as far as I'm concerned she shot a couple rounds into someone's car and luckily just injured them. Put her away for 6 monthe and lets see how she likes it. Makes me sick!
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 15, 11 8:05 PM