A Suffolk County corrections officer charged with DWI after his car struck and killed a pedestrian on Flanders Road in Riverside in June, returned to duty at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside last week, pending the outcome of his case.
Sergeant Christopher A. Dean, who is also the third vice president of the Suffolk County Correction Officers Association, the union representing corrections officers in the county, served a four-month unpaid suspension from his job following his June 25 arrest by Southampton Town Police.
“It was deemed prudent based on the seriousness of the incident to keep him out on suspension,” Chief of Staff Michael Sharkey explained on Monday, referring to an initial 30-day suspension leveled against the sergeant. Chief Sharkey noted that an internal investigation will be resolved at an upcoming arbitration hearing.
“In the intervening four months, there has been nothing more serious than a misdemeanor charge brought against the sergeant,” he continued, as way of explaining the reason for bringing Sgt. Dean back to duty. “Therefore, you have to weigh the likelihood of an arbiter either terminating an employee or bringing him back to duty.”
If it appears more likely that employee will come back, “you don’t want to be put in a position where now you’re going to owe the employee back monies for work that he never did,” the chief continued.
According to Southampton Town Justice Court officials, Sgt. Dean’s case has been adjourned repeatedly over the past several months, pending a report on a sobriety blood test he was given, results that typically come weeks or a month following an arrest, but could take longer, depending on the workload at the Suffolk County Crime Lab, they said.
Sgt. Dean, who has pleaded not guilty to his misdemeanor count, was last scheduled to appear in court last week, but his case was adjourned until December 12.
Court officials said Sgt. Dean’s attorney, William T. Ferris III of Islandia, has requested a demand of discovery, namely the evidence. Mr. Ferris could not be reached for comment this week.
Sgt. Dean, 41, of Riverhead, a 15-year veteran at the jail, was driving a 2002 Mercedes-Benz 320 west on Flanders Road near Old Quogue Road about 12:30 a.m. on June 25, after attending a social engagement, when police said he struck and killed Efren Ramirez Gomez, 32, a Riverside father of three and native of Guatemala who worked maintenance at a McDonald’s in Riverhead.