A stern Queens judge Thursday gave prosecutors and defense attorneys until early September to work out a plea bargain for a Hempstead woman accused of driving drunk on the Long Island Expressway before striking and killing NYPD Det. Anastasios Tsakos of East Northport.
“I am giving you one opportunity and one opportunity only to see if this case can be resolved,” Queens State Supreme Court Judge Michael Aloise said during a brief court appearance in the case of Jessica Beauvais. She faces vehicular homicide and other charges stemming from the alleged drunken driving crash in April 2021 that killed the 43-year-old Tsakos.
Dozens of police officers in plainclothes were in court for the proceeding, including some from Taskos’s highway patrol unit. Tsakos’s wife Irene, who had attended prior hearings, was not present and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
If prosecutors and Beauvais's defense team are unable to reach a plea deal by the next court conference, scheduled for Sept. 8, Aloise said the case would go to trial on Oct. 16. Before his announcement, the judge met with Queens Assistant District Attorney Gregory Lasak Jr. and Legal Aid Society attorney Jorge Santos in what apparently turned out to be a fruitless effort to get closer to a plea deal.
In addition to vehicular homicide, Beauvais, who was 32 when the crash occurred, faces 12 more charges, among them, manslaughter, fleeing the scene of an accident and driving while intoxicated.
On the night of the April 27, 2021, crash, Tsakos had been diverting traffic off the eastbound Long Island Expressway at Exit 26 in Fresh Meadows, Queens, because of an earlier crash when Beauvais, driving a Volkswagen sedan, hit him, police said at the time.
Tsakos and other cops had set up a roadblock when Beauvais drove by, ignoring the barrier and hitting the father of two, catapulting him through the air and causing catastrophic fatal injuries. Police said the impact damaged Beauvais’ car, adding that the force of the crash resulted in some of Tsakos’s police gear ending up inside the vehicle.
According to recent pretrial evidentiary hearings, frantic cops then pursued Beauvais, who continued driving for more than a mile before getting off the LIE at Exit 29 and pulling over.
A police body camera recording of Beauvais made after officers stopped her vehicle on the Horace Harding Expressway showed her standing outside her vehicle, sometimes yelling and appearing unsteady. Cops, who alleged Beauvais was intoxicated, did not interview her immediately at the scene.
Beauvais, the mother of a young boy, remains in custody after being unable to post a $1.25 million bail set by the Appellate Division earlier this year. She appeared in court Thursday wearing a dark suit with gold buttons and gold ornamentation, a change from the usual jail garb Beauvais had worn in earlier court appearances.
It was unclear after the hearing how far apart the prosecution and defense were on any potential plea bargain. But based on his statements in court, Aloise seemed to indicate the chasm was wide.
“I think this case will go to trial,” Santos said outside the courtroom.
In a statement, New York City Police Benevolent Association president Patrick Hendry said, “No matter how this case proceeds, it must deliver justice for our hero brother and his family."
Beauvais, he continued, "must stay behind bars as long as possible.”