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An 18-year-old Cheektowaga man who crashed into a friend's truck and bit off part of that man's ear in the spring was granted youthful-offender status Monday and spared a jail term.

Michael Fiorello, whose criminal problems began with his drinking and drug use several years ago, according to his lawyer, also was ordered by Erie County Judge Michael Pietruszka to pay Paul Mowry $3,106.39 for the vehicle damage he caused.

Free on bail since his July 26 guilty plea to charges of felony assault and driving while impaired by drugs, Fiorello declined to comment. But his lawyer, Thomas J. Eoannou, told the judge sparing him a jail term would help him deal with "the real problem," his drug use.

Eoannou told the judge Fiorello began drinking at 14 and using marijuana at 15, and said the May 20 incident, which began in the Buffalo Drive-in Theater and continued down the street on Harlem Road in Cheektowaga into the parking lot off St. Joseph Hospital, began when Mowry gave Fiorello LSD.

Prosecutor Glenn Pincus didn't comment on the defense attorney's complaints about the victim, but told the judge Mowry needs more surgery for the "serious and continuing" medical problems Fiorello caused and he wants to be repaid for the damage the defendant caused to his pickup.

After the sentencing, the prosecutor said Fiorello had gone to the Harlem Road drive-in and began to hallucinate after drinking beer, smoking marijuana and taking LSD.

As Mowry and another friend of Fiorello drove out of the theater lot in the victim's pickup, Fiorello followed in his car and rammed the back of the truck, then bit off part of Mowry's ear while attacking him with a knife in the nearby hospital parking lot, the prosecutor said.

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