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Bail Granted to Truck Driver Accused in Death of Nassau County Police Officer

More than a dozen cops attended John Kaley's Tuesday morning court appearance in show of support for Michael Califano.

More than a dozen uniformed Nassau County police officers packed a Mineola courtroom Tuesday in a show of support for their fallen colleague Michael Califano of Wantagh, who nearly four days before was in the line of duty on the Long Island Expressway in Old Westbury. Califano used to be an employee of the in East Meadow for 10 years.

The truck driver accused of falling asleep at the wheel and colliding into Califano, John Kaley of New Britain, Connecticut, made his second court appearance and was released on bail.

Judge Erica Prager set bail at $90,000 bond or $47,500 cash.

When Kaley was arrested on Saturday and charged in the deadly accident, he was ordered held without bail at his arraignment hearing in Hempstead. However, Kaley’s newly hired attorney, William Petrillo, argued that bail should be allowed since his client is not a flight risk and the most serious charge is criminally negligent homicide, a non-violent Class E felony.

In addition to facing this charge, Kaley was charged with three counts of third-degree assault and failing to move over for an emergency vehicle. As part of the conditions for his bail, Kaley must surrender his passport, wear an electronic monitoring device to make sure he does not leave Connecticut and is forbidden from driving any vehicle.

After Prager’s decision to reduce Kaley’s bail after Saturday’s arraignment, Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver expressed frustration that the man accused of causing Califano’s death would be allowed to go free on bail.  

“We have a dead police officer who hasn’t been buried yet and [Kaley] gets to go on with the rest of his life,” said Carver, who was flanked by police officers as he spoke to reporters outside the Nassau County Court West Wing, the site of Tuesday’s legal proceedings. “We are disappointed that the law only allows this type of bail.”

When Petrillo walked out of court with Kaley’s fiancée he argued that his client was arrested for an accident.  “It was a horrible tragedy but is not a crime,” said Petrillo. “There is no criminal misconduct.”

Kaley is due back in court on Feb. 23.

Kaley’s late court appearance came a few hours before Califano’s wake was scheduled at the Massapequa Funeral Home, with visiting hours scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral Mass for Califano is scheduled for Thursday at 12 p.m. at in Seaford, where his three sons, Michael, Christopher and Andrew, attend school. Due to the funeral and the anticipated large crowd of mourners, classes on Thursday at have been canceled.

Many people will pay tribute to Califano, including those from his Wantagh neighborhood, where many have displayed American flags outside their homes. The Nassau County PBA has also organized the Michael J. Califano Memorial Fund to raise money for his family. People interested in contributing can mail checks to: Care of Nassau PBA, 89 East Jericho Turnpike, Mineola, NY 11501.

peter skandera February 09, 2011 at 08:03 PM
I love the way they say "we have a dead police officer and Kaely gets to go on with the rest of his life" like an injustice has been done ....Why don't we string Kaely up right now .. It seems as if this was an accident , tragic yes ...and someone who shouldn't be dead is . But Kaely , had no malace , and no intent on harm...of course he has to go on with the rest of his life. He also has to live with the guilt of what occured and he was involved in . Bad luck floats around out there , sooner or latter it can land on us . Both these men are Victims of that. It is a horrible tradgedy , but Kaely isn't a monster ..
thomas gittins February 09, 2011 at 10:50 PM
I think they should throw the book at him.When you drive for a living you should always do the right thing and if tired STOP driving and get off the road. His negligence cost a familys joy with 3 boys being robbed of their father!!We need to stop making excuses for the actions we take and start taking responsibility for them!! we can start by giving the maximum sentence allowed by law and changing the highway rules making truckers obey them with hefty fines and license suspensions should they ignore them.
Harry Thomas February 10, 2011 at 06:02 AM
Mr. Gittins, first I want to say that I hope all drivers do the right thing when they are feeling tired. Nowthen, I don't know if you are a friend or a relative of Officer Califano, or just an observer like me. Your feelings are certainly quite legit. IMO, noone is making excuses for Mr. Kaley. Sometimes we like the way the law works, and sometimes we don't. It depends on which side of the issue we are on. Also, remember that if you were Mr. Kaley or a friend or a relative of his, you wouldn't be saying the things you have written here. I think the point Mr. Skandera, above, is making is that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Something to remember: in this Country we are innocent until proven guilty. If Mr. Kaley is found guilty, I am quite certain he will pay dearly. I sincerely hope you, or anyone you are close to, never finds themself in a situation similar to Mr. Kaley.
thomas gittins February 10, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Although you bring out a good point about bad luck its been known for quite some time that time is money to truckers. my point was that its a personal responsibility we all take when behind the wheel and selfish,poor decisions are COSTLY. I am not a family member or a friend but work as a safety officer and feel a special sense of loss which I know could have been avoided-bad luck or not.
wp February 10, 2011 at 10:03 PM
How about the company this guy worked for who dispatched this guy were they pushing him a lot of companies dispatchers really push their drivers they don't care they just want to clear their computer screen and the driver has to agree or he will be given a hard time. Dispatchers could care less how many hours their drivers are on the road I think for starters this is where the focus should be.
pat dellatto March 21, 2011 at 05:00 PM
my prayers go out to all of the victims, including the truck driver, Mr. Kaley, who is also a victim of this terrible tragedy. some lessons learned, including how police pull vehicles over to the side- especially late at night. pat dellatto

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