Pleas no: ‘Smug’ hit-and-run suspect refuses plea deal, now faces up to 7 years if convicted at trial
The man indicted for the allegedly drunken hit-and-run crash that claimed the life of cyclist Olga Cook in June faces up to seven years in prison after refusing a plea deal in Manhattan Criminal Court on Nov. 30.
Samuel Silva, 26, allegedly struck Cook with his truck as he turned west onto Chambers St. from a southbound lane on the West Side Hwy., before speeding away from the scene.
Photo courtesy of Travis Maclean
Upper West Side resident Olga Cook was struck and killed in June while biking across Chamber St. along the Hudson River Greenway. The man accused of hitting her and then fleeing the scene refused a plea deal with a 15-month prison sentence, and now faces five to seven years if convicted at trial.
Off-duty MTA police officer Otis Noboa soon apprehended Silva, after discovering him allegedly drunk inside his vehicle three blocks away from where the crash occurred.
In court on Wednesday, the prosecution offered Silva a deal for a sentence of 15 months to four years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea, according to Cathy Flanzig, an attorney representing Cook’s widower, Travis Maclean, in a civil case against the city for dangerous traffic conditions at the intersection where his wife was killed, who spoke with prosecutors following the hearing.
Flanzig said the assistant district attorney told her that Silva’s defense lawyer, Nicholas Ramcharitar, attempted to bargain the prosecution down to a year or less, but was rebuffed by Judge James Burke, who said that the DA’s offer was already over-generous in light of the charges.
“The judge said the ADA’s recommendation was light,” said Flanzig. “He said he’d go with their recommendation, but definitely nothing less than that.”
Silva’s chances of exoneration at trial are slim, according to Dan Flanzig, the other half of the brother-sister legal team representing Maclean in his case against the city.
“I don’t see it as defensible,” he said. “There were multiple witnesses. He was caught by an off-duty MTA cop. The impact was so severe he can’t say he didn’t know he hit her. For them, it’s all about the best deal they can cut.”
Ramcharitar could not be reached for comment by press time. Silva’s trial set to begin Jan. 25.
Maclean said he hopes that Silva doesn’t make a deal and gets the maximum penalty when convicted, he said.
“I think he deserves the max,” Maclean said. “I saw him the first time when he had a smug face. It looks like he has no remorse and doesn’t understand what he did.”
The city recently began work on safety improvements to the intersection of Chambers and West Sts. in response to Cook’s death, which has largely been blamed on unsafe traffic conditions at the crossing.
The work, which is expected to be completed later this week, includes changes to the intersection’s signal patterns, in addition to new bollards, and repainted crosswalks.
The intersection has been the site of 17 crashes that resulted in serious injuries over the past five years, according to Greg Haas, a city planner for the Department of Transportation.