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Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice recently announced that Joseph Kohler, 78, of Plainview, has been convicted by a jury of leaving the scene of a fatal hit-and-run that left a former Marymount Manhattan College professor dead.

After a day's worth of deliberation, the jury convicted Kohler of Leaving the Scene of Incident With a Fatality and Reckless Driving after a 7-day trial. He is due back in court for sentencing on March 19. He faces up to seven years in prison. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the lesser charge of Criminally Negligent Homicide.

Rice said that at about 8 p.m. on March 31, 2007, Kohler was driving his 1991 Lincoln Mark VII in the westbound lane of Old Country Road in Plainview when he ran a red light at Lester Place and struck Gurcharan Singh, 78, of Plainview, who was walking to a nearby Sikh temple. The light was red long enough for Singh to walk halfway across the five-lane road before he was struck. Kohler then fled the scene and returned to his home. Singh, a leader in Long Island's Sikh community, died from multiple fractures and head trauma later that night.

"Those who refuse to follow the rules of the road and endanger other pedestrians and motorists will suffer the consequences," Rice said. "Mr. Kohler will now have to pay for his dangerous and cowardly behavior. I only hope the Singh family takes some solace in his conviction."

Handling the case for the District Attorney's Office is Assistant District Attorney Anna Acquafredda of the County Court Trial Bureau. Representing the defendant is Charles Hochbaum, Esq.


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