Vasu pleads guilty

Daniel Vasu, right, stands with his attorney Sherburne Macfarlan in Elko District Court on Monday.

ELKO – An Elko man will serve time in prison after pleading guilty in a hit-and-run that killed a local businessman crossing a downtown street last June.

Daniel John Vasu, 28, entered his plea Monday before District Judge Nancy Porter on one count of failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death, a category B felony.

The count carries a “maximum of 20 years in the Nevada State prison, a fine of $5,000 and is not probational,” said District Attorney David Buchler.

Vasu was accused of driving a Jeep Cherokee SUV and striking Elko Federal Credit Union President Doug Schwartz the evening of June 22 as he crossed Commercial Street in front of Machi’s Saloon and Grill.

Before Vasu entered his plea under an agreement with the Elko District Attorney’s office, Porter asked him if he understood that “probation is not available on this charge and that prison is therefore mandatory.”

“Yes, I do,” said Vasu, who was reportedly employed in the mining industry at the time of his arrest.

Vasu’s attorney Sherburne Macfarlan explained the essential terms and conditions of the agreement to the court that in exchange for a guilty plea “the state agreed they will not pursue any other charges.”

After pleading guilty, Porter asked Vasu to tell the court what made him guilty of this crime.

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“On or around June 23, 2016, in this county of Elko, I operated a motor vehicle on a highway when I struck and injured a pedestrian,” Vasu said. “I then willfully failed to stop and remain at the scene and provide medical assistance and/or provide any of my personal (assistance) to law enforcement,” Vasu concluded.

Schwartz died of his injuries at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital later that night.

Witnesses standing nearby the night of the incident took a photo of the vehicle, which was used on social media and news outlets to locate Vasu. He was arrested the following morning.

Vasu has been out on bail since June 28, according to Macfarlan.

A date for sentencing has not been set; however, Buchler confirmed to the court that “the state’s portion of the sentencing hearing would take one and one-half hours” to include victim impact statements.

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Staff writer for the Elko Daily Free Press

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