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'Moped' man from Mass. expected to plead guilty in Salem chase

BRENTWOOD - A Massachusetts man accused of driving into oncoming traffic near Route 28 in Salem and setting off a police pursuit has struck a plea agreement with county prosecutors.

Rafael Tejada, 27, of Lawrence, Mass., is expected to plead guilty in Rockingham County Superior Court to charges stemming from a July 30 pursuit. Tejada tried to have evidence in his case thrown out of court back in February by claiming he violated no motor vehicle laws because he was technically driving a moped, not a motorcycle.

A judge disagreed after prosecutors handed over evidence of the bike's horsepower. Despite the bike's small frame, the engine's piston displacement - in excess of 50 cc's - made it a motorcycle, according to prosecutors.

Tejada faces two felony reckless-conduct charges and eight misdemeanors filed in the wake of his alleged flight from Salem police. Terms of the plea agreement have not yet been made public. Tejada is expected to appear for a plea-and-sentencing hearing June 18.

Salem police Officer Brian Routhier attempted to stop Tejada as he was headed eastbound on Cluff Crossing Road. Tejada allegedly sped off and crossed over a double yellow line into oncoming traffic after the officer activated his cruiser lights and siren, police said.

Police lost sight of Tejada until he was spotted driving southbound on Route 28. The pursuit picked up again along Cluff Crossing Road and into the Brook Village West Apartments. Tejada allegedly darted in front of a cruiser, causing a pair of cruisers pursuing him to rear end one another, police said. Tejada then drove into some brush and crashed at low speed before being apprehended, police said.

If convicted at trial, Tejada faces up to 3 ½ to 7 years in state prison on each of the felony charges.

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