A Woodhaven, Queens man admitted in Suffolk County court on January 15 that he was driving drunk when he struck a Manhattan woman in downtown Montauk Memorial Day weekend, then left the scene without stopping. Jose Romero-Flores, 34, pleaded guilty to two felonies, vehicular assault, and leaving the scene of an accident after a prior conviction for leaving the scene, and one misdemeanor count of drunken driving.
Romero-Flores will be sentenced in the county courtroom of New York State Justice Anthony Senft in Central Islip within the next couple of months. There is a court date set in March, but Romero-Flores’s attorney, Carl Irace, said he believes sentencing may take place after that date. It appears that Romero-Flores will serve some time behind bars.
An additional complication for Romero-Flores is his status as DACA, that is, the Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by President Barack Obama in 2012. The DACA question was brought up during Romero-Flores’s initial arraignment in East Hampton last year by attorney Brian DeSesa, who represented him that day. Under DACA, Romero-Flores is registered with the Department of Homeland Security. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to be eligible to register under the program, one must have not been convicted of a felony. In addition, DACA applicants also can’t “otherwise pose a threat to national
security or public safety.”
A call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s NY office seeking guidance as to how the agency handles such cases was not answered. The recording stated that ICE press spokespeople are furloughed until the end of the current government shutdown.
Romero-Flores was driving a 2016 Ford van registered to the Todaro Brothers, a 2nd Avenue company that specializes in gourmet food and catering, when he struck a 26-year-old woman before fleeing. The victim spent at least 10 days in the Stony Brook University Trauma Center, undergoing multiple surgeries.