After a car accident last month, 1st Ward Councilman Robert Costantino was charged with giving false information to a law enforcement officer and “hindering,” according to a criminal complaint obtained through an open public records request.
Per the complaint, Officer Kiril Petrov responded to a report of a motor vehicle crash at 701 Third St., around 10:49 a.m. on Sep. 23. Upon arriving, Petrov said a woman named Dawn Leon met him, claiming a truck veered into her lane and impacted the driver’s side of her vehicle while she was driving southbound on Third Street.
Leon is a teacher at the Huber Street Elementary School.
Petrov then said he spoke with Costantino, who was with Leon in the car and lives at 701 3rd Street.
Costantino claimed he was the front-seat passenger when the truck impacted the vehicle.
Costantino said he exited from the passenger side and began yelling at the truck driver after the crash, per the report. He then said he got into the driver’s seat of the impacted vehicle and drove to his address, a few feet away.
Costantino reportedly told Petrov that Leon stayed in the vehicle during this time, moving over to the passenger seat.
However, the truck driver who allegedly crashed into the vehicle claimed its driver was a “white middle-aged male wearing a white t-shirt.”
The foreman working with the driver and a third worker also backed up the truck driver’s account.
The foreman alleged that a white male with a white t-shirt exited the vehicle from the driver side, and began yelling at them, saying he was a councilman in town. He also said he did not see anybody else in the vehicle but the male driver.
Later on, Petrov said he spoke with Costantino and Leon again.
At that time, they both claimed Leon was the driver, and that Costantino did not take the wheel until after the crash, the report said.
Supplementary report and summons
In an Oct. 2. supplementary incident report, Petrov said he obtained surveillance footage from a nearby address.
He alleged that “the footage does not show the motor vehicle crash; however it does show the driver, who is wearing a white-colored short sleeve shirt, which the witnesses on scene did describe to me and who was identified as Mr. Costantino.”
During his investigation at the scene, “Mr. Constantino was wearing the aforementioned shirt,” Petrov alleged.
Petrov said he again contacted Costantino and asked him why three witnesses said he was the driver of the vehicle. Allegedly, Costantino responded that they didn’t know what they were talking about, and that “They only speak Spanish.”
Costantino said Leon was “so shaken up” after the crash that she jumped into his lap from the driver’s seat, then “somehow into the rear seat.”
“Due to the inconsistent statements from Mr. Costantino and Ms. Leon from the day of the incident and today’s conversation, along with the video footage collected from the scene which clearly shows Mr. Costantino operating the vehicle within moments prior to the crash, and having three separate witnesses all stating Mr. Costantino was the operator of the vehicle when the crash occurred, I believe the driver of the vehicle during the crash was Mr. Costantino,” Petrov alleged in his supplemental report.
The officer wrote summonses for Costantino and Leon, charging both with hindering and giving false information to an officer.
They had a scheduled court date for Oct. 24, according to the summons, but it was changed to Nov. 9.
The information came out in other media outlets less than two weeks before Costantino was to face challenger Steven Kilawattie for his 1st Ward council seat (see cover story).
On Friday. Oct. 27, Costantino responded to the report. “I was involved in a fender bender in front of my house with a cement truck,” he said. “There was a disagreement as to the facts of the incident, and I’m confident the courts will sort it out very quickly.”
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