Editor, The Daily Clarion

PRINCETON—A plea deal is in progress for the Washington van driver charged with more than 20 criminal counts in connection with a rollover crash on Interstate 69 last fall.

The April 25 jury trial date for James Allen is off the docket, rescheduled as a 10 a.m. sentencing hearing in Gibson Superior Court.

Allen said Thursday that he intends to plead guilty to some of the charges filed in connection with the crash that injured 22 passengers and killed Gena Moise, 60 and Christela Georges, 19, both of Washington. Allen was driving the crew south from Washington to the Ameriqual plant near Evansville, where the passengers worked.

He didn’t admit to any of the charges during Thursday’s hearing before Judge Earl Penrod.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Sharon Werne and defense attorney Daniel Moon told the judge they’re working on the terms of the proposed plea agreement, which will be filed in Gibson Superior Court by 8 a.m. the day of the sentencing hearing.

Werne told the judge that the proposed agreement would involve pleading guilty to some of the charges, with some sentences served concurrently and some time served consecutively.

Allen is on GPS-monitored home detention after posting bond.

According to the court file, Allen is charged with two felony counts of causing death when operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a controlled substance, seven felony counts of causing serious injury while operating a motor vehicle, two felony counts of criminal recklessness (aggressive driving killing another person), six felony counts of criminal recklessness/aggressive driving, a misdemeanor charge of operating a commercial vehicle without a valid commercial driver’s license, infractions alleging speeding, following too closely and unsafe lane change.

Werne said the prosecution will work with Washington’s community leaders to try to notify everyone of the sentencing hearing.

Most of the passengers in the van were Haitian immigrants, who may need a translator if they wish to make a victim statement.

The judge noted that the criminal matter’s resolution is separate from pending civil cases filed on behalf of some of the van passengers against Allen and his father, who operated the transport company.


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