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Plea hearing set for fired Manchester police officer

February 19. 2014 3:13PM

MANCHESTER — Fired Manchester Police Sgt. Stephen Coco is scheduled to enter a capped plea March 4 in Hillsborough County Superior Court North to two felony charges of conduct after an accident in connection with a hit-and-run incident a year ago in which two Bedford teens were injured.

The capped plea calls for a maximum of 12 months in the House of Corrections, followed by two years of probation and a special condition of no alcohol consumption on one of the charges. A suspended one-and-a-half-to-five-year sentence in the New Hampshire State Prison on the second charge is consecutive to the first sentence, but can't be brought forward after three years from release on the first sentence.

Restitution would be deferred to a later hearing, if necessary, following the conclusion of any civil action.

If the judge's sentence exceeds the cap, Coco, 41, a Bedford resident, can withdraw his plea.

A 17-year member of the Manchester Police Department, Coco was driving a Manchester Police Department undercover vehicle last March 22.

He claimed he was checking his cell phone after leaving a party on Harrod Lane when he ran up onto a snowbank and did not know he had hit anyone. He later said he had had only one glass of wine about three hours before the incident at the gathering that included other Manchester police officers.

The teens, Noah Hickman and Dean Drukker, were initially hospitalized, with Drukker suffering bleeding on the brain.
To avoid any suspicion of favoritism, Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway was appointed to prosecute, but when he proposed a six-month sentence on misdemeanor charges in connection with the hit-and-run in November, Hillsborough County Superior Court North Judge Gillian Abramson rejected the plea bargain as inadequate.

Coco was indicted on the felony charges in December and has been scheduled for trial next month. The notice of intent to plead was filed Tuesday in Hillsborough North, when the case was scheduled for a trial management conference.

Court system spokesman Carole Alfano said Judge Abramson, who had been hearing the case, was ill, and the judge covering her docket, Chief Superior Court Justice Tina Nadeau, had a conflict and could not hear the case Tuesday.

Hillsborough North Deputy Clerk Nancy Wickwire said the March 4 plea date was set to accommodate the request from a family member of one of the victims, who will be out of town until then and wished to be present for the hearing.

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