Fugitive of Indian origin arrested and jailed 26 years after pleading guilty to crime

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New York: A 63-year old Indian-American man from New York, who absconded after pleading guilty to assault charges, was arrested and jailed July 6, after evading prison time for 26 years.

Jaipaul Maharaj (a/k/a Abdool Persaud and Ronald Davidson), lived in West New York, New Jersey, at the time of his arrest and  presently lists his address as Monticello (Sullivan County), New York, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Maharaj, who was sentenced in absentia in 1990 to four to twelve years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree assault, was arrested June 6, and brought before the Court where he was remanded to the state Department of Corrections to begin his sentence.

According to the criminal charges, an inebriated Maharaj was driving a 1984 Chevrolet van without a driver’s license when he went through a red light at the intersection of 73rd Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard the morning of December 3, 1989, and struck the passenger side of a 1986 Toyota in which Grace Schachnu was a passenger. Schachnu suffered fractured ribs, a fractured cervical, collapsed lungs and hemorrhaging of the brain. She passed away in 1994.

Maharaj had been arrested in December 1989 and pleaded guilty to the top count of the indictment – first degree assault – on October 29, 1990. When Maharaj, then 36, failed to appear at sentencing on December 7, 1990, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. He was sentenced in absentia on December 12, 1990, to a term of 4 to 12 years in prison.

At the time of his recent arrest, Maharaj, who as Abdool Persaud was on five years’ probation for an October 2015 conviction. When he appeared for a scheduled meeting with the Sullivan County Department of Probation, he was promptly arrested. He was returned on the warrant and appeared before Queens Supreme Court Justice Robert Kohm, who executed the long-overdue sentence.

“It took 26 years but the victim’s family finally has achieved justice in knowing that the individual responsible for causing serious physical injury to their loved one is now being held accountable for his actions,” District Attorney Brown is quoted saying in a press release. “If not for a casual inquiry made by a family member of the victim fortuitously making its way to the Queens District Attorney’s Office, the defendant might very well have escaped punishment for his crime,” Brown added.