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QUINTANA AGREES TO UNDERGO TESTS BEFORE HIS SENTENCING

Former Niagara Council Member Robert Quintana today agreed to submit to psychological and drug and alcohol testing to help a judge determine the appropriate sentence on charges of harassing a former girlfriend.

Quintana, 39, told City Judge Thomas P. Franczyk he is "absolutely, unequivocally" willing to submit to testing after the judge put off his sentencing on a noncriminal harassment charge until July 27.

Quintana is back on full-time duty as a Buffalo police officer, after a brief suspension following his arrest last month.

Franczyk told Quintana, who appeared in court today with his sister, that he did not feel legally prepared to sentence him today as scheduled on his June 6 harassment plea for an incident involving Mildred Castro, his former girlfriend and Common Council aide.

The judge said he feels he needs professionals to assess Quintana's physical, mental and emotional state in order "to form an appropriate sentence."

The judge quickly assured Quintana that he was not implying that he has either drug or alcohol problems when he directed him to submit to substance testing over the next month under the direction of the City Court's nationally recognized program for substance abuse.

Franczyk said he also wants Quintana to submit to an examination by either a psychiatrist or other health-care professional.

At the request of prosecutor Brian P. McNamara, the judge also left in place a court order of protection for Castro, 38, on June 6, directing Quintana to stay away from her or face a separate prosecution.

Franczyk said the order of protection, which currently remains in effect until Aug. 15, will be put in its final form the day Quintana is sentenced.

Though Quintana faces only a possible jail term of up to 15 days, a $250 fine and court-ordered counseling, Ross T. Runfola, his lawyer, said Franczyk's actions were "a testimony to the intelligence and candor of this judge."

Quintana, who returned to active police duty after his unsuccessful 1999 re-election campaign for Council, admitted on June 6 that, during an argument on May 16, he threw Castro to the floor of the Jersey Street home they used to share.

His lawyer last month publicly disclosed that Quintana recently was diagnosed as suffering from fibromyalgia, a chronic musculoskeletal conduction.

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