State Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski resigned Friday in disgrace, and former prosecutor Anne E. Adams pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors for their roles in trying to clear her in a drunken-driving case.
"They tried to fix a case, and they got caught," District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said.
"His reputation is disgraced," Sedita said of Makowski. "Her conduct was disgraceful."
Makowski, 55, avoided criminal charges by recanting an affidavit he submitted in September, cooperating with prosecutors, agreeing to testify against Adams and resigning as a State Supreme Court justice.
Sedita forced Makowski to give up the judgeship.
"Because of his recantation and cooperation, I will not seek to brand Makowski a criminal," Sedita said. "However, I am deeply troubled by Makowski's original affidavit and initial conduct. Accordingly, Makowski, in lieu of criminal prosecution, will also be required to resign from the bench."
In a letter to Justice Sharon S. Townsend, administrative judge of the Eighth Judicial District, Makowski said:
"This letter will advise you that I have decided to resign my position as a justice of the New York State Supreme Court, effective March 5, 2009. It has been a distinct privilege to serve as a member of the court for the past 10 years."
Makowski would have had about four more years on the bench, making $136,700 a year.
Shortly after Makowski submitted his resignation letter, Adams, 46, who oversees the trial technique program at the University at Buffalo Law School, pleaded guilty before Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio to three misdemeanors: drunken driving, offering a false instrument for filing and attempted tampering with physical evidence.
She had been arrested Sept. 2 on Route 5 in the Town of Hamburg after a Hamburg police officer saw her Ford Thunderbird convertible weaving from lane to lane. Police said her blood-alcohol content at the time was 0.19 percent -- more than twice the state's legal limit.
Adams, who said she now lives on Quaker Road in Orchard Park, faces a possible jail term of up to two years when she returns to court April 23 for sentencing. If she had not agreed to the plea bargain, she could have faced felony charges. She declined to comment after the court session.
"Neither party to this pathetic episode committed violent crimes, nor have criminal records," Sedita said after Adams' plea and Makowski's resignation. "By the same token, one of my most important duties as district attorney is to restore public confidence in the justice system. Accordingly, this type of misconduct, particularly on behalf of lawyers, judges and public officials, will not be tolerated and will not be overlooked by this office."
Adams' plea to attempted tampering stems from her actions on the day after her arrest.
In an attempt to convince authorities she was not drunk the previous evening, Adams had Tarik Elibol, her primary care physician in Kenmore, draw a sample of her blood.
But she asked the physician to falsify specify on the tube that the blood was drawn at 10 p.m. the previous day, just hours after her arrest, according to court records.
In his affidavit, Elibol wrote, "On the evening of Sept. 2, 2008, I received a call from Ms. Adams regarding testing her blood alcohol. After determining that area emergency rooms had a minimum 2 hour wait for a non-emergency procedure, I agreed to draw Ms. Adams' blood myself.
"I met Ms. Adams at approximately 10 p.m. and drew her blood," Elibol wrote.
The physician noted in his affidavit that the lab report showed her blood alcohol content was less than .01 percent, barely showing any alcohol in her system.
Adams' previous attorney had filed the physician's signed statement as part of a motion to dismiss her case in Hamburg Town Court. That attorney eventually withdrew that motion.
Authorities had doubts about the sample from the beginning, because it differed so greatly with the blood alcohol reading reported by the police.
Sedita, however, said he would not prosecute the physician.
"He came clean and came clean early," Sedita said. Elibol did not return a call Friday seeking comment.
Adams' plea to offering a false instrument for filing also stems from the physician's affidavit.
She admitted to knowingly offering an affidavit falsely attesting to the date the blood was drawn.
Adams wrote all of the affidavits that had been signed by the physician and two others as their own statements and then submitted then in Hamburg Town Court, although Makowski revised the one she had prepared for him, Sedita said.
Two of Sedita's investigators, John Cleary and Mark Stambach, also looked into discrepancies between Makowski's affidavit and witnesses' statements to authorities.
In his affidavit, Makowski stated he had been with Adams from 2 to 5 p.m. Sept. 2 on a professional basis. He then met with her from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. in Shanghai Red's restaurant to talk about changes Adams was considering for a UB law school program.
While they were at the waterfront restaurant, Adams ordered two glasses of wine and a glass of water with lime, he stated.
Makowski also stated that nothing in her speech, gait or mannerisms had raised his concerns about her ability to drive that evening.
An eyewitness, however, told law enforcement officials that Adams was stumbling as she headed for her car and that the man with her was holding her to keep her from falling.
Also, Makowski said in his signed statement that, "After speaking with Ms. Adams for another five minutes, I told her I had to get on the Skyway to my mother's house. She told me she was heading to her home in Angola on the same route. I drove over the Skyway to South Buffalo with Ms. Adams' vehicle in my continuous presence."
But an eyewitness told authorities Makowski also got into Adams' car, and the two sat inside the car for about 20 minutes. Adams then pulled her convertible into another part of the Shanghai Red's restaurant parking lot, near the marina.
Then she backed into a parked car before pulling away.
A Buffalo police officer, parked nearby, noticed what happened and pulled up alongside her vehicle. He recognized Adams and said to her, "Counselor, where are you going?" a law enforcement source told The News.
The judge was in Adams' car at the time, the same source said. But none of this appeared in Makowski's affidavit in which he said he "had no concerns about her ability to drive a motor vehicle in a safe and prudent manner."
Upon leaving the restaurant, Makowski said he had followed Adams in his car along Route 5.
"Her driving was entirely appropriate," Makowski wrote. "She drove at the appropriate speed, she negotiated turns and tight construction lanes properly."
But another driver later reported an erratic driver in that area. Hamburg Police Officer Vincent Pupo III pulled Adams' convertible over when he saw it weaving from lane to lane, nearly striking a guardrail, near Ford Motor Co.'s Buffalo Stamping Plant, according to a police report.
Sedita noted the irony of Adams' guilty pleas Friday.
She lied to try to make her driving while intoxicated case go away.
"She wanted to be a judge," Sedita said.
At the time of her arrest, Adams was being mentioned as a possible candidate for a State Supreme Court judgeship in the November election.
"A DWI would have screwed that up," Sedita said.
"I would expect that, as a consequence of this plea, Ms. Adams may lose her license to practice law."
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