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Seventh drunk driving offense sends athlete back to prison

A martial arts instructor with six previous alcohol-related driving convictions is heading back to state prison after pleading guilty to yet another offense.

Anthony J. Demartino, 45, of Hamburg was arrested in the early morning hours of Nov. 29 after he was seen driving erratically on McKinley Parkway in Hamburg.

Police charged him with two infractions, including overriding an ignition interlock device and refusing to take a breath test, along with felony driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. In March, Demartino appeared in State Supreme Court and pleaded guilty to the two felonies.

Wednesday morning, Justice Russell P. Buscaglia ordered Demartino to state prison for the third time, handing down an indeterminate sentence of 1 1/3 to four years, followed by five years probation.

At the time of his arrest, Demartino, a former amateur and semi-pro football quarterback in Lockport, had been out of jail less than a year after serving 21 months for a 2013 felony DWI conviction. That conviction came after he served time in prison on a 2010 arrest.

Demartino’s attorney had requested the judge consider a shorter term. He told how only recently Demartino had been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of his father’s death in 2004, and that he now realized his alcohol abuse was a crutch.

The lawyer noted that Demartino was a third-degree black belt who taught martial arts to young people, and said, “You wouldn’t believe the effect he has on these kids – I’d like him to get back at it.”

Buscaglia, however, pointed out that Demartino’s first alcohol-related conviction was in 1994, 10 years before his father died, and that he continued to accumulate arrests before and after that loss.

The judge agreed not to give Demartino the maximum sentence of up to seven years, but said, in light of the defendant’s record, that state prison was appropriate.

The judge also said he expected that the state would permanently revoke Demartino’s license to drive.

email: mmiller@buffnews.com

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