A Union County jury has returned guilty verdicts against a Mountainside man who led police on a vehicle pursuit that ended with an accident approximately four years ago, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.
Antonio Santos, 37, was convicted on charges of second-degree eluding police and fourth-degree possession of a weapon (his vehicle) following approximately 90 minutes of jury deliberation and a six-day trial before state Superior Court Judge Frederic R. McDaniel. Following the verdict, Santos also pleaded guilty to a charge of fourth-degree driving with a suspended license for a second or subsequent DWI conviction.
It was shortly after midnight on March 3, 2012 when a police officer attempted to pull over a Range Rover being driven by Santos in the area of Summit Road and Charles Street in Mountainside, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Tomlinson, who prosecuted the case.
Instead, Santos led Mountainside Police Department and Springfield Police Department patrol units on a chase that covered approximately five miles, winding from that Mountainside intersection up Summit Road into a residential part of Springfield, back down Summit Road onto Route 22, and ultimately just off the highway, where he lost control of the vehicle and crashed, Tomlinson said. He then was arrested at the scene and was found to have been driving on a suspended license.
Santos claimed at trial that he was pathologically intoxicated on multiple forms of prescription medication at the time of the incident, a defense the jury rejected.
Following Thursday’s verdict, Santos’s bail was revoked and he was remanded to Union County Jail. He will face a term of up to 10 years in state prison upon sentencing, which is scheduled for May 6, 2016 before Judge McDaniel.