MIAMI – The man who fled from a fatal crash with a bicyclist on the Rickenbacker Causeway almost three years ago is headed back to prison for violating house arrest.
A Miami-Dade County judge sentenced Michele Traverso to another two years in prison. He had served a sentence of less than a year in jail and was on house arrest.
According to the Department of Corrections, a spot check on him last week found he was just coming home from a beach trip with his girlfriend at 5 a.m.
"I was shocked, honestly, when I got the call," said Patty Cohen, whose husband, Aaron Cohen, was killed in the crash. "You would think it would be simple to stay at home when you're supposed to be at home. You're a grown man. You've been through all of this and gotten so many breaks from the system."
Cohen is among many who believe Traverso's original sentence was too lenient. Because he fled the scene that February morning in 2012, any evidence that he was driving under the influence was gone. Traverso was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with death, although there were signs he had been drinking prior to the crash.
Traverso's attorney said he thought the judge's sentence was "excessive."
"But I understand the judge's sentiment on this," said attorney Ray de la Cabada. "(The judge) gave him a chance and I think he violated the trust."
In the wake of Aaron Cohen's death, family and friends were instrumental in changing Florida law. Leaving the scene of a fatality is now punishable by a four-year minimum sentence, the same as DUI manslaughter, in a law named for Aaron Cohen.
With his new sentence for violating house arrest, Traverso will come close to serving that. The judge added 26 months in prison without the possibility of an appeal.
"Hopefully, now he'll learn his lesson and he'll be having plenty of time in prison to think about the consequences of his actions," said Mickey Witt, with the Aaron Cohen Law Initiative.
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