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Stamford bar owners, employees get probation for fatal drunken driving crash

January 17, 2019

STAMFORD — Six of the seven bar owners and bartenders charged with serving two underage men before they were killed in a drunken driving accident will avoid jail if they complete a court probation program.

The owners and employees of Vinny’s Backyard, Tracks Restaurant and the Mystique Gentleman’s Club will have the charges erased if they stay out of legal trouble for three months.

Judge Richard Comerford also ordered them to cooperate with the negligent lawsuit filed by the families of the two 20-year-old Stamford men, Thomas Molgano and Lucas Salem, who were killed on Hope Street on Feb. 4, 2017.

“The consequences of the defendant’s actions were devastating,” said Thomas Cassone, an attorney representing the Salem family. “We left it up to the discretion of the court to determine the resolution of the criminal aspect of the case.”

Dominick Angotta, an attorney representing Molgano’s mother, Angela, said they did not want to challenge the disposition of the case.

“We saw no need to compound this tragedy,” Angotta said.

Stamford police said Molgano, 20, was served alcohol at Tracks and Mystique before getting behind the wheel of his 2002 Dodge Ram pickup.

Molgano was speeding and lost control on Hope Street as he approached Hartford Avenue, crossing into the southbound lane and striking a tree near Barnstable Lane. Molgano was well above the legal alcohol limit to drive, police said.

Police said they interviewed 30 witnesses during their investigation and discovered six minors had been served alcohol at the three establishments that night.

Ernst Buggisch, 61, of Stamford, permittee of Vinny’s Backyard Restaurant, was charged with three counts of sale of alcohol to a minor and four counts of allowing minors to loiter on permit premises.

James Duggan, 67 of Stamford, permittee of Track’s Restaurant, was charged with four counts of allowing minors to loiter on permit premises and four counts of sale of alcohol to a minor.

Alex Rosado 34, of Bridgeport, permittee of Mystique Gentleman’s Club on Poplar Street, was charged with six counts of sale of alcohol to a minor and six counts of allowing minors to loiter on permit premises.

“This was a tragic, tragic situation,” said Eugene Riccio, who represented Duggan and McQuillan.

Bartenders Cynthia Torres, of Darien, and Stamford residents Melissa Santoro, 24, Kaley Walsh, 24, and Linda McQuillan, 50, were charged with sale of alcohol to a minor.

“It was a terrible tragedy,” said Lindy Urso, who represented one of the bartenders. “This was the right resolution for these individuals, given all of the circumstances.”

All of the defendants were allowed to participate in the diversionary program except Rosado, whose charges are still pending.

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com

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