Bertsch served time in jail after fatal collision in
By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau
COOPERSTOWN — A woman who was sentenced three years ago to 90 days in jail after a fatal DWI collision in Middlefield was charged with driving while intoxicated Saturday.
Sandra Kinder Bertsch, 63, was arrested at about 11:40 a.m. Saturday on Long Island, said Carlisle Cochran, chief of police in Southold.
Bertsch, who was driving a 2004 Land Rover, was pulled over for "suspicion of aggressive driving," Cochran said.
"She failed the roadside sobriety tests and was found to be intoxicated," he said. Her blood alcohol concentration was measured at .11 percent, according to an arrest report.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]The legal blood alcohol concentration limit in New York state is .08 percent.
Bertsch, who has homes in Oyster Bay and on Indian Run Road in Middlefield, was jailed Saturday in Southold, Cochran said.
She was arraigned Sunday in Southold Town Court, posted $2,500 bail and was released, according to a clerk in that court.
Because Bertsch is on probation from the fatal DWI accident in Otsego County, a warrant for her arrest was issued Monday by Otsego County Judge Brian Burns.
Early Tuesday afternoon, Bertsch met with staff at the Otsego County Probation Department and was arrested for violating her probation, according to Roy Spina, probation director.Bertsch is due in Otsego County Court at 9 a.m. today for a hearing on the alleged violation, according to court officials.
Bertsch was charged with felony DWI in Southold because she was convicted of DWI in 2002 in Otsego County. The local charge stemmed from an accident on county Route 33 in Middlefield on the night of Sept. 8, 2001.
According to Bertsch’s previous testimony in Otsego County Court, that night she left a party after drinking wine in the Cooperstown area. While on the way home, her vehicle collided with a car driven by Patricia Zaccagnino, 37, of Sprout Brook.
Zaccagnino died from injuries she received in the crash, and her then-2-year-old daughter, Jordan Zaccagnino, had a broken leg and other injuries.
Police had said Bertsch, whose blood alcohol content was measured at .11 percent, was driving on the wrong side of the road. In December 2001, a grand jury indicted Bertsch for criminally negligent homicide, two counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol, second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree assault and second-degree vehicular assault.
The following April, Otsego County Judge Brian Burns dismissed three charges, citing errors in grand jury proceedings.
In May 2002, Bertsch pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide, a felony, and driving while under the influence of alcohol, a misdemeanor.
On July 19, 2002, Burns sentenced Bertsch to 90 days in jail, five years probation and 500 hours of community service. Bertsch, who had elected to serve just more than 60 days of her sentence in advance of her formal sentencing, did not have to go back to jail after she left court that day.
Spina said Tuesday that Bertsch completed her community service. He would not specify what that service was.
Leonard Zaccagnino, Patricia’s widower, said Tuesday that he had heard Bertsch was arrested last weekend.
"I’ve been waiting for this to happen," he said. "That woman is a menace to society and not a day goes by that I don’t think about what happened that night."
He said he would be in court today.
Cooperstown lawyer Randel Scharf, who represented the Zaccagnino family against Bertsch, said Bertsch is "a danger to society."
Former Otsego County District Attorney William Gibbons, who prosecuted Bertsch, said he was sorry to hear she had been arrested again. Gibbons noted that Bertsch could be re-sentenced in Otsego County to state prison and might face consecutive sentences if convicted on the charges against her in Southold.
Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl declined to comment on the specifics of the case late Tuesday, but added, "I’ll have something to say in court tomorrow."
In 2002, Bertsch was represented by Peter Gerstenzang of Albany, who is specializes in DWI cases. Gerstenzang said Tuesday he is still Bertsch’s attorney and will represent her on the recent charges against her.