Food Truck Driver Denied Bond After Fatal Crash

Tony Steven Dane, the man who faces five criminal charges for his involvement in a fatal crash Sept. 8, has been denied bond.

In a hearing in Loudoun County Circuit Court this afternoon, Judge Thomas D. Horne ruled against Dane’s request for bond, citing a list of criminal charges he faces including felony charges in Nevada.

Dane was the driver of the food truck that struck and killed 39-year-old Erin Kaplan, of Ashburn, and seriously injured her three children. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving, driving without an operator’s license (repeat offence), driving without insurance and failure to get the vehicle inspected. The involuntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

In separate incidences in Nevada, Dane also faces charges of extortion, knowingly offering a false or forged instrument to be filed with a public office, uttering a false document, perjury, and eight counts of wiretapping. That indictment alleged that Dane, a political consultant, was behind an effort in December 2014 and January 2015 to pressure a Nevada assemblyman to change his vote for speaker of the Republican-controlled Assembly. Dane allegedly used his robocalling business to wiretap phone conversations involving five Republican assemblymen and their constituents.

He is scheduled for a jury trial in Las Vegas on Jan. 29.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Shamis brought up some of those charges in court today making the case for denying Dane bond. He noted that, at the time of the fatal crash, he was out on a $42,000 secured bond in Nevada. “That’s a hefty secured bond,” Shamis said. “That gives you an idea of the gravity of what he faces out there.”

He called the crash an accident, but one that was avoidable. “It is an accident caused by Mr. Dane’s criminal activity. He knowingly operated an incredibly unsafe vehicle,” Shamis added.

The vehicle was a 2000 Thomas bus, which had been converted into the Dane’s Great American Hamburger food truck. Dane had told detectives that he had noticed the brakes were “soft” earlier in the day but continued driving. He said they completely failed when he tried to stop at the intersection of Evergreen Mills Road and Watson Road, smashing into Kaplan’s 2014 Audi station wagon.

Dane’s defense attorney, Adam Pouilliard, argued that his client is not a flight risk or a risk to the public. He noted that Dane had flown out to Nevada to attend every court appointment in that pending case. “Putting Mr. Dane on house arrest or under a curfew would be appropriate terms in this case,” he said.

But Horne denied the bond motion.

Dane has also been served with a civil lawsuit seeking $10 million in compensatory damages. The lawsuit, filed Oct. 3 by Faran Kaplan on behalf of his wife’s estate, cites Dane’s lack of a driver’s license, lack of insurance and alleged knowledge of malfunctioning brakes in support of negligence allegations. In addition to $10 million in compensatory damages, the suit seeks $350,000 in punitive damages.

Faran Kaplan sat in the front row during the bond hearing. He occasionally shook his head and sighed as Shamis told the judge about the details of the car crash that took his wife and seriously injured his son and two daughters.

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