Appeals court recommends ‘DWI judge’ lose bench seat

Appeals court recommends ‘DWI judge’ lose bench seat

A​n upstate judge who encouraged sheriff’s deputies to “shoot” an unruly defendant in her courtroom, then cursed out troopers who arrested her for drunk driving — on her way to work — and after that took a vacation to Thailand instead of attending a hearing on the DWI arrest is finally being recommended for removal from the bench.

Suspended Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio will continue to collect her $187,00-a-year salary until the state’s Court of Appeals rules on her ouster. That could be as late as the fall. But she was less eager to return to court for a follow up hearing on the drunk driving arrest. In May 2017 she jetted off to Thailand instead of attending the hearing over contempt charges for trying to drive her vehicle while intoxicated after her DWI arrest.

Astacio’s troubles started the same month she first took the bench in January 2015, when she refused to recuse herself from the arraignment of a former client, then let an accused thief off with a $50 bail as a “courtesy,” according to a ruling from the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.

“I totally love him. I’m so sad that he’s in jail right now,” she said in open court at the time.

Later that month the judge told sheriff’s deputies​ ​— “tase her,” “shoot her,” and “well, punch her in the face and bring her out here”​ ​— when she heard that a young female defendant was biting and spitting on people on her way to court.

By August 2015 the judge still hadn’t learned how to behave on the bench, the ruling says. She joked that a sexual assault victim had a “case of buyer’s remorse” because the victim was hesitant to sign a statement against her attacker. When a prosecutor didn’t laugh at the crude remark the judge said, “I don’t mean to be inappropriate. I thought that was freakin’ hilarious.”

Off the bench Astacio was nabbed for drunk driving Feb. 13, 2016 when a state trooper tried to give her a Breathalyzer on her way to work.

It was 7:54 a.m.

She told the trooper to “mind his own f—ing business” before blowing a .19. The legal limit is .08.

While locked up for the infraction she tried to use her position as a judge to get out, pleading, “I have court right now.”

Astacio, 36, admitted that she’d “engaged in some misconduct” but claimed that her ouster “was too harsh.”

The judicial conduct commissioners disagreed.

“The totality of respondent’s misbehavior as shown in the record before us demonstrates her unfitness for judicial office,” they said in a ruling released Tuesday,
Astacio’s attorney, Robert F. Julian, said, “I will be reviewing the decision with my client and she will make a decision regarding an appeal shortly.”

Tori Hall ‘Livid’ After Britni Thornton Is Arrested for DUI

The Challenge drama has continued outside the house. Britni Thornton, who was most recently seen on The Challenge: Vendettas was arrested for DUI on Saturday, April 14, just before 8 p.m. ET, Us Weekly can confirm.

The reality star was charged in Columbia County, Georgia, with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as Failure to Maintain Lanes.

Britni Thornton mugshot

Thornton, 26, is currently in a relationship with Challenge vet BradFiorenza. Fiorenza, 37, has two children with ex-wife Tori Hall, who he met on The Challenge. When a fan tweeted the news to Hall, she responded, “I’m livid. There is no excuse ever to drink and drive. Ever.”

Tori Hall Livid Britni Thornton Arrested DUI

Something came up and he had to see his ex-wife and I got to meet them,” the Are You the One? vet told Us in March. “The kids are absolutely beautiful and I met Tori. We had a great meeting and I wouldn’t change anything about the way we met. She’s great. She handled her own and was very womanly about it. I couldn’t imagine being in that type of situation so from my point of view — I’m not a parent — she stood her ground, but was very kind at the same time. She’s a protective mama bear and such a sweetheart.”

Hall, 31, also spoke with Us about her ex’s relationship with Thorton.

“Here’s the deal: they just have more in common. He’s a fun guy. We met really young. I was 20 years old when I met him, and I grew up with him,” the former pageant queen told Us in January. “I gave him a decade of my life, a third of my life. When we grew up and realized the things that we wanted in life, we agree on nothing. The only thing we agree on is our two kids, which is sad. He probably is a better fit for her.”

The Challenge’s Tori Hall ‘Livid’ After Brad’s GF Britni Is Arrested for DUI

Campaign slams report Senate hopeful hid DUIs

Rep. Luke Messer, who is running for U.S. Senate in Indiana, was criticized this week for allegedly failing to disclose his DUIs when he ran for public office in 2003 to replace a state representative who was killed by a drunk driver. Messer's campaign has called the report "misleading."

Rep. Luke Messer’s Senate campaign is pushing back against a report that he attempted to hide his multiple DUI charges when he first ran for public office in a successful bid to replace a state lawmaker who had been killed by a drunk driver.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Messer, a Republican who is now running for U.S. Senate in Indiana, didn’t disclose his two drunk driving convictions — to local, county or district party leaders — when he first ran for a legislative seat in 2003, replacing a state representative who was killed by a drunk driver.

Messer’s first public disclosure of the convictions was in a 2009 news report, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Messer’s campaign called the story — which was published less than a month before the primary election —  “misleading” and “politically motivated,” claiming Messer privately informed some legislatures and party leaders of the charges before he ran for office, just not everyone.

“Luke has acknowledged and apologized for these mistakes which occured more than 23 years ago,” Chasen Bullock, Messer’s campaign manager, said in an emailed statement to Fox News.

The first drunk driving conviction was in 1990 when Messer was still in college, Messer’s campaign confirmed to Fox News; the second was in 1995 when he was 26 years old and working for a law firm.

“The question here is, should he have disclosed this information to the people making that decision, and then of course, it’s pure speculation as to what kind of impact that would have had on the race,” Tony Cook, an Indianapolis Star reporter who co-wrote the report, told WXIN-TV. “But certainly some folks we talked with said he probably wouldn’t have been a candidate if that information had been known at the time.”

Messer’s campaign blamed Rep. Todd Rokita, a Republican gunning for the same Senate seat, for the story, saying it is a “last minute dirty trick from Rokita’s failing campaign.”

Messer, 49, is in a contentious three-way battle for the Republican nomination with Rokita and former state Rep. Mike Braun. The general election is considered a toss-up: whoever wins the Republican primary on May 8 will go on to face Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Democratic incumbent who assumed the office in 2013.

Nathan Brand, a spokesman for Rokita, told Fox News the Indianapolis Star report should make voters ask: “If Luke Messer failed to disclose two DUIs when he replaced a State Rep who was killed by a drunk driver … what is he failing to disclose to voters now that he is running for the US Senate?”

“Voters deserve the truth, and Messer has gone to great lengths to mislead on the important issues in this race,” he added.

Messer’s campaign told Fox News the family of state Rep. Roland Stine, who was killed in April 2003, was aware of Messer’s past and had even “encouraged him to pursue public office.” But the Indianapolis Star said the late state lawmaker’s wife and daughter could not recall if he told them before or after he was elected.

Stine’s daughter, Suzanne Meredith, told the newspaper Messer’s charges were “disappointing to hear,” but everyone makes “mistakes in [their] past.”

“We’ve forgiven and moved on,” she said.

Cop’s DUI case continued

BRIDGEPORT – The court case of a veteran city police officer, charged with driving drunk and injuring a young Trumbull woman in a wrong-way crash, was continued Monday.

John Carrano, 33, a member of the Bridgeport police force for seven years, is charged with second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, operating under the influence, driving the wrong way and failure to drive right.

Carrano did not enter pleas in the case Monday and it was continued for two weeks.

Both Carrano and his lawyer, James Ruane, declined comment as they left the Golden Hill Street courthouse.

Police said Carrano had a blood/alcohol level of .25 – more than three times the legal limit – when he drove the wrong way on Broadbridge Avenue and ran head on into the 19-year-old woman who is the granddaughter of former Bridgeport mayor Thomas Bucci.

Lawyer, relative of man shot by police officer in White Castle drive-thru speaks out

Police haven’t said why a Royal Oak police officer opened fire and fatally shot a 28-year-old man inside his vehicle at a White Castle drive-thru on April 11, and a lawyer and relative of the man who was killed believes charges should be filed.

The case remains under investigation by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and no charges have been filed against the officer.

Police say Antonino T. Gordon, who was driving a relative’s BMW, fled a traffic stop and was later found waiting in the drive-thru line before he was shot.

Bloomfield Township attorney Joseph Dedvukaj, who is representing Gordon’s family, claims a woman who was in the drive-thru line behind Gordon and a patron inside the restaurant said the unidentified officer wasn’t directly in the path of Gordon’s vehicle.

The gunshots “were from the driver’s side, slightly behind the driver, the equivalent of shooting somebody in the back,” the attorney said.

The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide resulting from gunshot wounds to the chest and arm.

Dedvukaj, whose niece was married to Gordon, says the witness who was inside the White Castle “told the cop to, ‘Stop, stop, don’t shoot him,’ and he kept shooting.”

The witness in the drive-thru said “she saw everything,” the attorney claims. “She gave a statement that this shooting did not have to happen.”

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on Dedvujak’s assertions.

“The attorney can claim whatever he wants to claim, but that does not mean his claims are necessarily correct, because the investigation is ongoing,” Oakland County Undersheriff Michalel McCabe told MLive in an email.

The family took possession of Gordon’s body and plans to conduct its own autopsy, Dedvukaj said. He said preliminary information provided to him by the family’s pathologist indicate Gordon was shot twice in the chest, from side. There was another graze wound on the left shoulder, Dedvukaj said.

“You can fear for your life if you’re in front of the vehicle,” Dedvukaj said of the possibility the police officer will claim self defense, “but at that point, what would you shoot — the windshield.”

Dedvukaj says the bullets entered the driver’s side of the vehicle.

He expects that surveillance footage from the White Castle restaurant — if not also the officer’s dashcam footage — will show exactly what happened.

Investigators seized the video and camera system, but “at some point I will get access to it,” Dedvukaj said.

Following the shooting, Royal Oak police released a statement that Gordon had “numerous contacts with law enforcement, including multiple arrests for operating while intoxicated and disorderly conduct” and “had an outstanding arrest warrant.”

According to Royal Oak 44th District Court Records, Gordon was convicted of operating while under the influence in May of 2016 for a 2015 incident. He was sentenced to a year of probation, and court records indicate he was charged with a probation violation in June 2017.

He had another operating while intoxicated charge dismissed in March 2016 and a resisting or obstructing police charge dismissed in April 2012.

Dedvukaj says there’s no way the officer knew Gordon had an outstanding warrant, because the car was owned and registered to the attorney’s brother.

He argues there have been “many cases that the cops are taking the law into their own hands, and they’re not following constitutional law.”

A group of demonstrators gathered in Oak Park Tuesday night to protest recent officer-involved shootings.

In another suburban Detroit shooting earlier this month, Troy police shot and killed 23-year-old Robert G. Issa on April 9 outside his family home when Issa allegedly charged police while armed with knives.