HAVERHILL — When Joseph Pagliarulo pleaded guilty last month to hitting an elderly Groveland woman with his pickup truck and killing her, his driver’s license was suspended for five years.
He was also given a one-year suspended jail sentence and released. But today he is behind bars. A judge found probable cause yesterday that Pagliarulo may have violated the terms of his probation by driving a vehicle outside his Atkinson home four days after his license was suspended. Haverhill District Court Judge Richard Mori ordered Pagliarulo held without bail until Tuesday, when Judge Stephen Abany, who presided over Pagliarulo’s negligent driving case, will consider the new charge against him.
At yesterday’s hearing, Pagliarulo’s lawyer said the new charge happened because the son of the dead elderly woman was parked across the street from Pagliarulo’s home and called police when he saw Pagliarulo move his pickup truck on his own property.
Pagliarulo, 68, pleaded guilty Sept. 18 to a charge of negligent operation of a motor vehicle in the death of Priscilla Viens, 74 The collision in November 2010 killed Viens, who was out for her daily walk along Route 97 near her home. While crossing that road, she was struck by Pagliarulo’s pickup truck. Police said he told them he did not see Viens. Pagliarulo was originally charged with motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation.
During yesterday’s hearing, Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo said that on Sept. 22, four days after Pagliarulo was sentenced, he drove his pickup truck. Reading from an Atkinson police report, DePaulo said an officer who was on patrol that day was called to Pagliarulo’s home.
DePaulo said the officer met Pagliarulo at the end of his driveway and Pagliarulo told the officer he was walking his dog and had moved his truck down his driveway and parked it on the street.
“Judge, this sounds innocuous, but ... Judge Abany could not have been any more specific about Mr. Pagliarulo not even getting behind the wheel of a vehicle,” DePaulo said. “This is a situation where Mr. Pagliarulo was given a suspended sentence and was ordered not to drive. He was given a very specific order not to drive.”
Mori appointed attorney Sean Gleason to represent Pagliarulo at yesterday’s hearing. Gleason said that after Pagliarulo’s license was suspended, he drove his vehicle on his property, but did not drive on the street. Gleason said one of the victim’s sons was sitting in his car across from Pagliarulo’s home and when he saw Pagliarulo move his vehicle, he called the police. Gleason said Pagliarulo did drive his car in his driveway, but it was only to get his dogs past an electronic fence in his yard. “He has two dogs and he was bringing the dogs for a walk,” Gleason said. “He takes the dogs into the car, goes over the electric fence that keeps the dogs in the yard, and as soon as he goes over the electric fence he gets the dogs out and he goes for a walk with the dogs on the street.”
Gleason said Pagliarulo checked with the New Hampshire Registry of Motor Vehicles to ask if he was allowed to drive on his property and he was told he could.
“When my client drove over the electric fence to try to get his dogs out for a walk, there is the victim’s son sitting across the roadway in his car,’’ Gleason said. “He is the individual who called police. The police came down and subsequently arrested my client. My client does not have, prior to the underlying case, any record at all,” Gleason said. “He went out of his way to make sure what he was doing on his property was what he was able to do legally up in New Hampshire.”
DePaulo said if Pagliarulo was confused about what he was or wasn’t allowed to do, he should have checked with Haverhill District Court.
“He should have come back down here, asked the Probation Department or ask Judge Abany and not call the Registry of Motor Vehicles in New Hampshire,” DePaulo said. “That’s absurd.”
Gleason asked that Pagliarulo be released on personal recognizance, but Mori ordered him held. Mori granted Gleason’s request that Pagliarulo be provided with his prescribed medications. Gleason said Pagliarulo recently underwent eye surgery. According to witness and police reports read during Pagliarulo’s sentencing hearing, three cars on the southbound side of Route 97 had stopped to let Viens cross the road. She got about three-quarters of the way across the street when Pagliarulo’s pickup truck approached on the northbound side of the road. The truck was moving a little over 40 miles per hour when Pagliarulo’s fender struck Viens, police said. Viens was thrown two and a half car lengths and landed face down, according to the reports. She died from her injuries a short time later. Pagliarulo told police he knew Viens had the right of way but he “just didn’t see her.” It was determined that he was not distracted by anything when his truck struck Viens, police said.