A 63-year-old Indian-origin fugitive has been arrested and jailed in the US more than 26 years after he was sentenced for driving in an inebriated state and causing an accident that severely injured a woman. Jaipaul Maharaj of New Jersey was arrested yesterday and brought before the court where he was remanded to the state Department of Corrections to begin his sentence, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Maharaj, who also went by the name of Abdool Persaud, was sentenced in absentia in 1990 to four to 12 years in prison after warranting on his guilty plea to first-degree assault. He had been on the lam for 26 years.
He had been arrested in December 1989 and pleaded guilty to first degree assault. When Maharaj, then 36, failed to appear at sentencing, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. He was sentenced in absentia to a term of 4 to 12 years in prison.
“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. 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 said.
Maharaj, who as Abdool Persaud is on five years’ probation for an October 2015 conviction, appeared yesterday for a scheduled meeting with the Sullivan County Department of Probation and was promptly arrested. He was returned on the warrant and appeared before Queens Supreme Court Justice Robert Kohm, who executed the long-overdue sentence.
According to the criminal charges, Maharaj was driving without a driver’s license and in an intoxicated state when he went through a red light on a December 1989 morning and struck another car in which Grace Schachnu was a passenger.
As a result of the collision, Schachnu suffered fractured ribs, a fractured cervical, collapsed lungs and hemorrhaging of the brain. Schachnu passed away in 1994.