COURT HOUSE – The drunk driver in a fatal crash during a car rally that wreaked havoc in Wildwood last fall has pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault while eluding police.
Prosecutors said in Cape May County Superior Court on Wednesday, Dec. 6, that they will ask the judge to sentence Gerald White, 38, to 25 years in state prison in exchange for his plea. They also agreed to dismiss the remaining 14 counts of the indictment as a condition of the guilty plea.
Alfonso Gambone, White’s lawyer, said he will offer mitigating factors at the sentencing hearing in February, hoping to persuade Superior Court Judge J. Christopher Gibson to reduce the sentence to less than 25 years. If the judge decides on more than 25 years, White can likely withdraw his plea.
White, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, admitted he was guilty of two counts of aggravated manslaughter, agreeing under questioning by his attorney that he drove recklessly, with a blood alcohol level of 0.19, demonstrating an “extreme indifference to the value of life and safety” and killing Timothy Ogden, 34, and Lindsay Weakland, 18. His blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit, 0.08, to drive in New Jersey. The incident occurred on Sept. 24, 2022.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault while eluding police, admitting under questioning by Gambone that he recklessly caused serious bodily injury to Sarah Farmer and Giovanni Cianciolo while trying to escape police, who had made contact with him over a relatively minor incident just prior.
White lost control of the 2003 Infiniti he was driving near the intersection of Burk and Atlantic avenues while fleeing and hit a Honda Civic containing Ogden and Farmer, just after 9:30 p.m. Ogden, of Clayton, and Farmer were both transported to the hospital, where Ogden later died. Farmer survived.
He also hit two pedestrians, Weakland and Cianciolo. Weakland, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was pronounced dead at the scene, but Cianciolo was transported to the hospital and survived.
White faced up to 80 years in state prison if convicted of the charges, according to the judge, and will have to serve at least 85% of the 25 years recommended by prosecutors as part of the plea, in accordance with the No Early Release Act.
That means he must serve a minimum of a little over 21 years and three months if the judge sentences him in line with the prosecutors’ recommendation. White had previously rejected a plea offer of 44 years. He has been in the county jail since his arrest just after the incident.
White was in town for the unsanctioned H2oi car rally, during which more than 500 participating cars took over the streets of Wildwood, many accessorized for street racing, according to a probable cause affidavit in the case.
In the event’s aftermath, city officials and local law enforcement officials held meetings to strategize on how to avoid a repeat of the weekend’s tragic outcome. An ordinance was passed in Wildwood to try to increase penalties and deter those who participate in “exhibition driving” from coming to the resort.
Gambone told the Herald last month that he expects his client will address the court at the sentencing hearing. Family members of Ogden and Farmer were present for the plea hearing Dec. 6 and they, along with the other victims’ family members, will have an opportunity to give impact statements prior to the judge’s sentencing in February.
Gambone told the Herald he did not have anything to add at this point, beyond what was said in court.
First Assistant Prosecutor Saverio Carroccia, who is assigned to appear in the case on behalf of the state, did not respond to an inquiry from a reporter after court Dec. 6. He was not in court for the hearing Dec. 6; a colleague from the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office stood in for him.
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