Off-Duty Cop Admits He Was Drunk When He Killed Woman Crossing The Street

Long Branch police Officer Jake Pascucci appears in state Superior Court in New Brunswick.

New Jersey – An off-duty Long Branch police officer admitted Tuesday that he was driving drunk when he fatally struck a woman as she crossed the street in September.

Detective Jake Pascucci acknowledged that he had at least a blood-alcohol level of .08, the state’s legal limit for drivers, when he hit Karen Borkowski, 66, as she crossed Ocean Boulevard at the intersection of Broadway in Long Branch on Sept. 22.

Pascucci pleaded guilty before Judge Lorraine Pullen in Superior Court in Middlesex County to strict liability vehicular homicide and DWI. Prosecutors will drop the reckless and careless driving charges as part of the agreement.

The case was transferred to Middlesex County because Pascucci had worked on an investigation with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and that office felt it was a conflict of interest, a spokesman for the agency has said.

Pascucci was facing a sentence of 3 to 5 years in prison under third-degree strict liability vehicular homicide, a new statute created in July in response to an outcry over light sentences for some drunken drivers who killed people.

The plea agreement reached on Tuesday calls for Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Keith Abrams to request a prison sentence of 364 days but also gives Pascucci’s attorney, Steven Altman, an opportunity to argue for no jail time and just probation.

It also forces Pascucci to hand in his Long Branch Police Department badge and requires him to pay restitution to the victim’s family if there is any. Since the incident, Pascucci has been working with the police department in a support capacity and getting paid.

Altman declined to comment after the hearing.

Around 8:15 p.m. on Sept. 22, Pascucci was driving a 2016 Jeep Cherokee southbound on Ocean Boulevard when he hit Borkowski.

Her husband, Ed Borkowski, told NJ Advance Media after the incident that the two were staying at a nearby hotel for a church conference and his wife was crossing the street to go to the CVS to buy him bandages because he suffers from lymphedema, which causes him to have severe blisters on his legs.

“I want justice,” he said. “And, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not my will but God’s will. We’ll find out. He (God) is going to find out how to do it and Karen is probably up there telling him what to do.”

Ed Borkowski was not present at Tuesday’s court hearing. Other family members of Borkowski were present, but they were not immediately available to comment afterward.

Pascucci told officers at the scene that he had a green light and that Borkowski was jaywalking, according to dashboard camera video from police at the scene, obtained by NJ Advance Media through the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

“She walked right in front of me, jaywalking,” he can be heard saying in the video. “I have a green light, going this way, southbound. She walked right out in front of me.”

Pascucci is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28.