NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—In front of a packed courtroom, Judge Bradley Ferencz sentenced Ernie Feist to five years in jail for a drunk driving crash that injured multiple innocent people.
Feist had pleaded guilty to three counts of assault by auto, but according to published reports, will be eligible for parole within a year or less because the charges are in the third and fourth degree.
Feist had two public jobs, one with Monroe Township and the other with Perth Amboy, and also manages his own engineering firm, Feist Engineering.
But Feist’s lives, and several others, changed forever on June 4, 2013 after a terrible crash on Hoffman Station Road in Monroe.
Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Alyssa Gambarella told Ferencz that Feist was traveling 102 miles per hour when he crossed into oncoming traffic and struck two vehicles.
Feist admitted to drinking a glass of tequila and a bottle of wine before the incident.
The crash inflicted life-threatening injuries on 57-year-old Deborah Gross-Tulli, who had to be airlifted to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
Another driver, Stephanie Ciano was also injured. Feist and his passenger, a Pennsylvania resident named Jamie Scism, were also transported to a hospital.
Statements from the victims were read aloud in court, which was packed with family and other supporters of Feist.
Some members of the crowd gasped when the verdict was read.
Feist, who grew up in Perth Amboy with Monroe Township Mayor Richard Pucci, worked for both towns as an engineer. Feist also has his own business Feist Engineering, which continues to serve as Monroe Township’s official engineer, according to NJ.com.
Feist also served as Monroe’s Emergency Management Coordinator.
Next to Mr. Feist in court for the sentencing was his attorney Thomas Buck, the same man who represented New Brunswick’s Emergency Management Coordinator, Fire Director Robert Rawls, after an unfortunate crash of his own.
Rawls was given a fine of just $206 for carless driving after striking three children on their way home from school on May 6. The children were in a crosswalk.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.