A former New Brunswick attorney convicted on criminal charges after obstructing a police investigation into an accident in Toms River has been paroled.
An appeals court, however, affirmed disciplinary charges last week that were brought against John G. Koufos, 34, while he was still in prison, according to NJ.com.
Koufos, of Koufos and Norgaard, with offices in Long Branch and New Brunswick, was indicted after he had one of his employees lie and say he was driving the 2011 Lexus that sent Kevin O’Brien, 17, of Newtown, Pa. to Jersey Shore University Medical Center with serious injuries, authorities have said.
Koufos, an Ohio Avenue resident in Brick, was initially charged with aggravated assault, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident, hindering apprehension or prosecution, witness tampering and obstructing the administration of law.
Authorities initially charged fellow Brick resident Craig Terlizzi in the hit-and-run after he came forward to take responsibility for the collision. However, a week later, Ocean County authorities dropped charges against Terlizzi after an investigation revealed Koufos was behind the wheel, authorities have said.
“Our investigation now reveals Mr. Terlizzi’s statements in connection with that investigation were false, and made with the intent of shielding his employer, attorney John Koufos, from responsibility for the accident,” Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said in June 2011.
Terlizzi was charged with hindering a police investigation by giving false information to law enforcement.
The night of the collision, witnesses reported seeing a black vehicle speed away in the northbound lanes of Route 35 on the barrier island after striking the teen, former Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said at the time. Koufos' car was later found on Downer Avenue in Mantoloking with its windshield smashed from the impact, police said.
The indictment alleged Koufos struck the teen, sped off, and abandoned the car before interfering with the police probe by influencing Terlizzi's statements to authorities.
Authorities have also said that Koufos may have been in the area attending an Ocean County Bar Association dinner at Gabriella’s restaurant in Toms River's Ortley Beach section that night.
The appellate decision said in August 2012, two months after he began serving his sentence, Koufos was being searched by a corrections officer following a meeting with his attorney. He had struck up a conversation with the guard, asking him whether he was related to a woman who had the same last name as a woman whom Koufos knew. He then told him about her.
The corrections officer reported the conversation to the sergeant on duty, advising the sergeant the woman was his sister and the information Koufos told him was correct. The corrections officer didn't reveal to Koufos that the woman was his sister, the seven-page decision said.
Koufos was charged with an infraction of the inmate handbook that prohibits undue familiarity between inmates and staff.
Following a hearing, Koufos was found guilty and sanctioned 90 days administration segregation, 60 days of which was suspended; 60 days loss of commutation time; 30 days loss of recreation privileges and 90 days loss of telephone privileges. The finding and discipline were upheld by an associate administrator at Bayside State Prison, where Koufos was incarcerated.