Ex-cop sentenced for fatal Cottman Avenue crash

Adam Soto, a former police officer, will serve three to 12 months in jail after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide.

Adam Soto (Times File Photo)

A former Philadelphia police officer was sentenced on Friday to three to 12 months in jail after he admitted to killing a man while speeding in a 2017 crash near Northeast High School.

Adam Soto, 25, was driving 88 miles per hour, prosecutors said, when his car struck Daniel Dimitri, 50, who was crossing the street to catch a bus around 11:30 a.m. Jan. 31, 2017 on the 1600 block of Cottman Avenue.

Soto, an off-duty officer in the 24th district at the time, was drag racing with another off-duty cop, Tony Forest, Assistant District Attorney Cydney Pope claimed. Forest was not charged in the case.

In October, Soto pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter in a non-negotiated plea, meaning the District Attorney’s Office and Soto’s lawyer did not agree on a recommended sentence.

Pope asked Judge J. Scott O’Keefe to exceed sentencing guidelines and give Soto a longer prison term due to the reckless nature of the crash.

O’Keefe chastised Soto during Friday’s hearing but decided against straying from the standard sentence.

“What you did was stupid, reckless, senseless. It was asinine,” O’Keefe said.

Soto’s sentence includes four years of probation and a work release, which means he will be able to leave jail for work. He will serve his term at the jail complex on State Road starting Feb. 8.

Prior to O’Keefe’s decision, Pope read statements from Dimitri’s family, who sobbed in the gallery, and Soto cried as he apologized for his role in Dimitri’s death.

“Every day of our lives is now filled with intense sadness and grief,” Pope said, reading a statement from Dimitri’s niece Brittany Prosinski. “This was not an accident.”

“Adam Soto knew what he did was wrong, and he did it anyway,” she continued.

Pope said witnesses described seeing Dimitri’s body flying 30 to 100 feet in the air. Investigators determined he was knocked 144 feet down the street, and he was found wearing only underwear and a sock, she said. The rest of his clothes were ripped off from the impact.

The crash occurred in a school zone on a day when classes were in session at Northeast. The speed limit in that area is 30 miles per hour. 

Pope also insinuated that Soto might have had a history of drag racing. She showed the judge a photo of Soto’s license plate equipped with a tag that said “Eat Sleep Race.”

Soto’s father addressed the court, and Soto himself spoke to the judge before he received his sentence.

“I understand what I did was horribly wrong and foolish,” he said, turning to face Dimitri’s family.

Fortunato “Fred” Perri Jr., Soto’s attorney, described the crash as a “sad, tragic accident caused by extremely poor judgment.” He asked O’Keefe to sentence Soto to house arrest.

“There’s not a moment that goes by in this young man’s life where he is not haunted by what happened,” Perri said.

Soto was fired by Police Commissioner Richard Ross in 2017 after he was charged in connection with the crash. He spent three years as an officer. ••