Endymion crash driver pleads guilty to misdemeanor charges, still faces felony counts

Endymion crash driver pleads guilty to misdemeanor counts

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The man accused of injuring dozens of people at a parade during Mardi Gras has pled guilty to several of the charges stemming from the crash.

Neilson Rizzuto has pleaded guilty to 13 counts of misdemeanor vehicular negligent injury in Endymion Parade crash but still faces 12 felony counts of the same charge.

During a status hearing in Orleans Parish Criminal court, prosecutors were expected to hand over information the defense may need.

But Rizzuto instead decided to enter the plea on the misdemeanor charges he faced.

Rizzuto was accused of injuring more than two-dozen people when police say he plowed his truck into a crowd of people watching the Endymion parade.

Police say Rizzuto had a blood alcohol level nearly three-times the legal limit at the time of the crash. According to a police report, Rizzuto's blood alcohol level measured .232.

The misdemeanor charges carry a sentence of up to six months each for as much as six and half years in prison.

During the hearing, Judge Ben Williard intended to give Rizzuto a six-month sentence for each charge but run the punishment concurrently, making the overall sentence for the 13 counts just six months.

Since Rizzuto has already spent nearly seven months behind bars, he would qualify for time served.

But prosecutors asked Judge Williard to allow the 13 accident victims injured by Rizzuto to make victim impact statements before sentencing.

Rizzuto remains in jail on a more than $400,000 bond.

A trial could begin later this year or early next year.

A motions hearing on the felony counts is scheduled for October 27, the same day Rizzuto is to be sentenced on the misdemeanor counts.

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