Puckett takes plea deal in 2017 hit-and-run case (March 18, 2019)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — Marc Puckett, Apple Valley’s former assistant town manager who was accused of felony hit and run stemming from a July 2017 crash on Interstate 15, has entered into a plea deal that reduced the charge against him.

Puckett, who denied hitting another vehicle when questioned by the Daily Press a week after the incident, pleaded no contest on March 6 to misdemeanor hit and run, according to court records. He was sentenced to three years probation and 30 days in county jail.

Court records show Puckett is eligible for a weekend/work release program and a conduct credit that could cut his jail time in half. He must report to the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center by 2 p.m. Thursday.

Daniel Greenberg, Puckett’s attorney, told the Daily Press the probation is informal, meaning Puckett will not have a probation officer.

Lola Espinoza, who was injured during the late-night crash, said she received a $25,000 check during the March 6 hearing. Greenberg confirmed the amount, saying it was restitution paid for damages and lost wages.

Espinoza, who lives in Rancho Cucamonga, was traveling southbound on I-15 at about 11:30 p.m. when her Toyota Prius was rear-ended by Puckett’s Cadillac CTS south of Foothill Boulevard, according to a California Highway Patrol report.

Puckett’s Cadillac careened off the freeway after impact and went down an embankment before stopping in a flood control channel. He later confirmed he was in an accident, saying he left his car to find someone with a cellphone because his was dead.

Puckett denied hitting another vehicle during that conversation, calling it an absolute crap story.

He also wondered whether someone with Liberty Utilities followed him the night of the crash.

Espinoza previously said her back and neck were injured as a result of the crash. She gave a victim impact statement during the March 6 hearing, telling Judge Stephan Saleson, and Puckett, that the injuries have made it difficult to do her job at American Medical Response, where she works as a first responder.

Doing CPR and ventilations on a patient, anything like that, is hard on my body, Espinoza said. It’s sad because now I’m thinking, like, ‘Do I have to get another career?’

Espinoza said she addressed Saleson and Puckett while she spoke inside a Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court room. Puckett, she said, kept his head down while she made her comments.

At the time of the crash, Espinoza said she was finishing her clinicals en route to her paramedic’s license. Without a car, she said she missed time at work, stressed over whether she would obtain the license and fell into a depression that required counseling.

She said she’s still frustrated that, immediately following the crash, she feared for the safety of the other driver.

I was worried about him the whole time, not knowing that he left the scene, she said. Like, who does that? I just thank God my son was not there because he probably wouldn’t be with me.

Espinoza said the $25,000 check she received offered some relief because she owed her grandmother money for a down payment on a new car purchased in October 2017.

Saleson offered an apology after she finished her statement, according to Espinoza. She said she didn’t feel closure because she wasn’t sure if Puckett was remorseful.

Like, for me, maybe he regretted it because of the mess he caused for him, but he didn’t even say sorry to me, she said. I’m just happy to be done. It’s life. You just go forward.

Puckett was charged with felony hit and run in early December 2017. He went on paid personal leave from his Town Hall job on Dec. 7 of that year and pleaded not guilty on Dec. 14, according to previous Daily Press reports.

In early January 2018, Town Manager Doug Robertson eliminated Puckett’s assistant town manager position, citing financial reasons.

Puckett is scheduled to complete his incarceration by Oct. 21. He paid a total of $4,339 to the court and will complete probation in March 2022, according to court records.

Source: Matthew Cabe, Daily Press

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