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Ex-Manchester police officer facing felonies for Bedford hit-and-run after judge rejects plea bargain


MANCHESTER - A former Manchester police sergeant has been charged with two felonies in connection with the alleged hit-and-run accident that left two teenagers injured last spring on a quiet residential street in Bedford.

A Hillsborough County grand jury handed up indictments charging Stephen Coco with two counts of conduct after an accident, the legal term in New Hampshire for a hit-and-run.

Each charge is a felony that has a maximum penalty of 3 1/2 to 7 years in state prison and a $4,000 fine.

The accident took place on Harrod Lane on March 22 after Coco left a small gathering that included other Manchester police officers.

Within days, Police Chief David Mara had fired Coco, a one-time narcotics detective with 17 1/2 years on the force. Coco's union has lost efforts to have him reinstated.

A special prosecutor, Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway, initially worked out a plea bargain that called for Coco to serve a minimum of six months in the Valley Street jail. But in November, Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson rejected the plea-deal as inadequate.

Coco was driving an undercover Manchester police vehicle at the time of the accident.

Both of the pedestrians -- Dean Drukker and Noah Hickman -- were initially hospitalized, and Hickman's father has said he believes Drukker, who suffered bleeding on the brain, could have died had he not received immediate medical attention.

Both pedestrians have since recovered and do not show signs of lasting, serious injury.

During an earlier court hearing, Coco's lawyer, Mark Howard, said his client drank a single glass of wine three hours before the accident. He said Coco was reaching for his cell phone when he ran up on the snowbank and never realized he had hit someone.

Howard said Coco's statement to Bedford police that he hadn't gone out that night had been misinterpreted.

The initial plea bargain involved a misdemeanor charge of vehicular assault. The grand jury handed down the indictments on Dec. 19. They were released to the public on Tuesday afternoon.

mhayward@unionleader.com



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