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Drunk suspect not allowed to plead

A man who had pleaded guilty in an alcohol-related crash returned to Niagara County Court to plead to another charge Friday but was unable to do so because he was intoxicated.

Ronald S. Appoloney, 66, of Woodlawn Avenue, Niagara Falls, pleaded guilty April 1 to second-degree vehicular assault and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.

He was brought back to plead guilty to resisting arrest. "It gives the court more sentencing options," Deputy District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner explained.

The plea deal included a sentencing cap of one to three years, but Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza said, "The court is interested in sentencing him to more than a year. To give him more than a year, I would have had to send him to state prison."

Adding an extra misdemeanor would have given the judge the right to give Appoloney two years in the County Jail.

However, the judge received a note from a security officer that Appoloney was intoxicated.

Defense attorney James J. Faso said, "There's a slight odor of alcohol." He said Appoloney told him he last drank at 8 a.m. Friday.

Sperrazza, who threatened to come off the bench and smell the defendant's breath himself, said she couldn't accept a plea from a man who wasn't sober and told Appoloney to come back Thursday.

Appoloney's blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.27 percent after he swerved off Niagara Falls Boulevard and struck a woman and her teenage daughter before crashing into the fence of a go-kart track.

The resisting arrest charge would have resulted from Appoloney's conduct in the ambulance. Sheriff's Deputy Shawn Grapes testified during a Feb. 4 hearing that he saw the ambulance pull over on Erie Avenue in North Tonawanda and found Appoloney fighting with the medics.

He said Appoloney grabbed his radio microphone, so he punched the suspect in the stomach. When Appoloney then tried to grab his Taser, Grapes said he hit Appoloney in the face and handcuffed him to the gurney.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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