BRIDGEPORT – A state trooper, caught on his own dashboard camera stealing a dying motorist’s cash and gold crucifix, is facing up to a year and a half in prison.
Aaron “AJ” Huntsman, a 19-year veteran of the state police, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon under the Alford Doctrine to third-degree larceny and tampering with evidence – both felonies.
Although Huntsman, 45, could have faced up to 10 years in prison on the two charges, Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin said he would impose a term in prison of 16 months, followed by five years of probation.
Huntsman’s lawyer, Ryan McGuigan, does have the right to argue for a lesser term when Huntsman is sentenced Oct. 3
Huntsman walked out of the courtroom with a big smile on his face following the hearing. He declined comment.
A plea made under the Alford Doctrine means Huntsman didn’t admit his guilt but conceded there was a good chance he could have been found guilty of the crime if he went to trial. The judge then found him guilty.
Assistant State’s Attorney Tiffany Lockshier said she had been prepared to take the case to trial.
“This was very close to being reached for trial,” Devlin told Huntsman. “Before the summer was out you would have been on trial.”
The sentencing day comes one day before John Scalesse’s birthday.
Scalesse, a former executive of the JAS Masonry in Milford, was killed Sept. 22, 2012 after his motorcycle crashed into a construction company truck on the northbound section of Exit 44 on the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield.
Huntsman, who was the first trooper at the crash scene, walked over to where Scalesse lay, bent down and picked up Scalesse’s gold chain from a pool of blood, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. He then took a roll of bills – $3,700 – that had been in Scalesse’s pocket. Later, Huntsman told Scalesse’s grieving father that he didn’t see any money on the victim, the affidavit states.
The cash was later found held with a rubber band under the front seat of Huntsman’s cruiser. State Police said Huntsman has maintained his innocence even after he was shown a video of him taking the money that was captured on the dash camera of his own police car.
“John didn’t deserve his memory to be tarnished like this and we are finally glad it’s almost over,” said Scalesse’s mother, Marguerite Scalesse. “After all we have gone through we are glad that he (Huntsman) at least didn’t make us go through a trial.”