Harrison town supervisor say he 'did nothing wrong' after he crashed town-owned car, drove home

Dionisio tells News 12 he had a couple of drinks that night but insists he was not intoxicated or too impaired to drive.

Jonathan Gordon

May 9, 2023, 1:00 AM

Updated 386 days ago

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Harrison Town Supervisor Rich Dionisio tells News 12 in an exclusive interview that he "did nothing wrong" after he crashed a town-owned car into a pole and then drove home before calling the police last month.
"There was no damage, there was no one hurt, there were no other vehicles, and when I left there was nothing wrong with the pole. I had no idea," said Harrison Town Supervisor Rich Dionisio.
Dionisio left the Harrison Meadows Country Club on April 16 shortly after midnight following a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Giovanni Caboto Club, according to security footage from the club obtained by News 12 through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Video shows Dionisio turning left onto North Street with his utility lights on before almost immediately crashing into a Con Edison utility pole.
The supervisor/mayor said he swerved to avoid a car that was traveling in the other direction along North Street.
"To me, it seemed right on top of me. I mean it was rainy, it was dark, it was late but I kind of worried and panicked a bit. Turned my car to the right. Unfortunately, the pole was there," said Dionisio.
Security footage does not appear to show any other vehicles on the road when Dionisio made the turn and he made no mention of another car when he made the call to police 20 minutes later around 12:46 a.m., according to phone logs obtained through that same FOIA request.
The video appears to show Dionisio staying on the scene for about three minutes before he said he drove back to his home a mile away.
Dionisio tells News 12 he had a couple of drinks that night but insists he was not intoxicated or too impaired to drive.
"Over the course of four or five hours and with dinner in between I might have had two drinks but that's it," said Dionisio.

MAYOR'S CALL TO HARRISON POLICE AT 12:46 a.m.

State police contacted the Harrison Police around 12:24 a.m. after receiving an automated crash response message.
Harrison police got to the scene around 1:03 a.m., according to security video but did not find Dionisio's car, only damage to the pole.
Police showed up at Dionisio's home around 1:17 a.m. following his call to dispatch, according to body camera footage.
One video is less than a minute long and does not contain any audio for the first 30 seconds.
Eventually, the officer turns on the audio and says, "You don't want the camera on do you?" The mayor responded, "No I don't. I don't. Nope. No."
Dionisio defended this interaction with the police.
"What I did was absolutely protocol and nothing else and so were the police. They followed protocol to the T," said Dionisio.
A second body camera shows another officer walking from his car up the stairs of Dionisio's home but the officer is too far away for any of the conversation between the mayor and the first officer to be heard.
Police only issued the mayor a ticket for "unauthorized lights improper color" because he had his utility lights on, which he has pleaded guilty to and will pay a fine.
News 12 reached out to Police Chief John Vasta for a comment on how police handled the investigation but he has not returned several calls and an email.


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