July 07. 2014 7:45PM

Ex-Manchester police officer is out of jail after 72 days on felony hit-and-run sentence

Staff Report

MANCHESTER — Fired Manchester police Officer Stephen Coco, who pleaded guilty March 26 in Hillsborough County Superior Court North to felony hit and run and was sentenced to a year in jail, has been out of jail since June 5. Coco is living at home in Bedford and working, but subject to a tight curfew, according to defense attorney Mark Howard.

Coco was serving his sentence in the Coos County Jail in West Stewartstown, but remained in the custody of Hillsborough County Corrections Superintendent David Dionne, who made the decision to release Coco. According to terms of his release, he is subject to daily reporting to authorities.

Under the 2013 law that gives superintendents the right to modify how a sentence is served, Dionne was required to notify Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway of the decision so he could object if he chose and request a hearing.

Hathaway, who prosecuted the case, said: “I objected.”

A hearing was held Monday morning before Hillsborough County North Judge Gillian Abramson, who took Hathaway’s objection under advisement.

Coco pleaded guilty to the March 2013 incident in which he struck two Bedford teens while driving a police undercover SUV and drove off.

Coco, who had been at another officer’s house, later said he was distracted by his telephone and didn’t know he had struck anyone. The teens were hospitalized, one with a broken elbow and the other with bleeding on the brain, They did recover.

In November 2013, Abramson rejected a negotiated plea to misdemeanor charges and Coco was later indicted. When Abramson accepted the plea to felony charges in March of this year, she rejected Hathaway’s request to bar home confinement.

In addition to the one-year sentence, from which Coco could be released in late November for good behavior, according to Howard, Coco has a suspended sentence and two years of probation, plus restitution.

Coco’s release upset the mother of one of the teens who was injured.

“We think the public will be as disappointed in this as we are,” said Nancy Drukker, mother of Dean Drukker. “This is very disappointing to many people.”

Clearly frustrated with the ruling, Nancy Drukker said the development is “typical for a person in authority” and that some people like police officers are “seemingly given special treatment.”

She said the original sentence of a year was fair and can take some comfort that Coco might still have one more judgment to deal with.

“There is a higher authority who will judge Coco in the end,” she said. “The man is corrupt.”