A closer look: Two unlicensed truck drivers who hit and killed cyclists face different fates under law

A closer look: Two unlicensed truck drivers who hit and killed cyclists face different fates under law
FIle photo by Mark Mellone

Cops arrested an oil-truck driver who hit and killed a teenage bike rider in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Friday because he allegedly drove without a license. But the motorist who fatally collided with a 27-year-old cyclist in Greenpoint last July while driving a garbage truck he was not licensed to operate only received a violation that prosecutors couldn’t charge him on, according to a spokesman for District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

“The driver in the most recent case was allegedly driving with a suspended license, which is a misdemeanor offense,” said Oren Yaniv. “The driver in the earlier case did have a valid license but was driving out of class, which isn’t a prosecutable crime.”

Last week, motorist Philip Monfoletto was traveling along Lewis Avenue towards Putnam Avenue in a 2000 Mack oil truck when he plowed into 13-year-old Kevin Flores around 5:30 pm while making a right turn onto Jefferson Avenue, police said.

Emergency responders transported the Queens teen who suffered severe head trauma to Interfaith Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead, according to authorities.

Monfoletto remained at the scene, and officers arrested him for driving with a suspended license. Officials previously issued him suspensions no less than nine times, according to information from Gonzalez’s rep, who could not confirm the class of Monfoletto’s suspended license.

A driver with 10 suspensions at the time of his or her arrest can be charged with a felony, but Monfoletto only had nine when cops cuffed him. The Long Island resident’s rap sheet also includes three prior arrests, including for a July 2017 stabbing, according to a New York Daily News report.

Monfoletto — who bragged about being above the law on social media, according to a Twitter post — claimed he didn’t see Flores when he smashed into the boy. But that did not stop Gonzalez from charging him with a criminal misdemeanor for aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle the next day, according to information from the top prosecutor’s office.

Flores’s death came about six months after 63-year-old Jose Nunez, an employee of the private trash collector Action Carting, killed cyclist Neftaly Ramirez in a collision near Noble and Franklin streets, and then drove away.

But police claimed Nunez didn’t know he hit the victim, and let the motorist — who did not have the correct class of license to drive a massive garbage truck — almost entirely off the hook when they issued him a summons for the violation of driving out of class on Nov. 10, nearly four months after he hit and killed Ramirez on July 22.

And fatally plowing into pedestrians should constitute more than mere traffic-related charges, according to Borough President Adams, who demanded stronger punishments for drivers such as Monfoletto and Nunez at a Sunday vigil for Flores and on social media.

“There’s a reason for vehicle licenses; in the wrong hands, they can be deadly weapons,” the beep wrote on Twitter. “We need criminal penalties for unlicensed drivers in deadly crashes, and companies who have them operate their vehicles.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.