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Driver Pleads Guilty in Queens Crash That Killed Highway Worker

By Julie Shapiro | January 24, 2013 3:25pm
 Frank Avino, 63, was struck and killed on the Grand Central Parkway on July 10, 2012.
Frank Avino, 63, was struck and killed on the Grand Central Parkway on July 10, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Tuan Nguyen

QUEENS — The driver who struck and killed a 63-year-old highway worker on Grand Central Parkway last summer pleaded guilty Thursday to vehicular manslaughter, officials said.

Munshi Abdullah, 26, a Queens resident, was allegedly drunk and speeding when his Audi slammed into Frank Avino near Jewel Avenue about 11 a.m. July 10, the Queens District Attorney's office said.

Avino, a Vietnam veteran from Long Island, was placing orange traffic cones in the road when Abdullah's car smashed into him and sent him flying into the air, prosecutors said.

Abdullah told police he had been drinking from midnight to 3 a.m., and authorities measured his blood alcohol content as .18 percent, more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent, prosecutors said.

Abdullah will be sentenced March 12 before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt, who said she planned to sentence him to up to seven years in prison and then afterward require him to install a device similar to a breathalyzer on his car ignition to prevent him from driving drunk for five years, officials said.

"The defendant has admitted that his violent actions were responsible for the untimely death of a hardworking family man," Queens DA Richard A. Brown said in a statement.

"As such, the prison term and conditions to be imposed — which are the maximum under the law — are more than justified."

Avino was an experienced electrician with Welsbach Electric Corporation and was part of a team fixing a street light on Grand Central Parkway when he was killed, officials and witnesses said.

Friends and coworkers described Avino as a "warm-hearted man" who spoke often of his grandchildren.

"They were his life," Al Scotti, a longtime friend of Avino's, said after the crash. "He was a wonderful man who will be missed."