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Lawyer gets probation for assault on guard

Buffalo attorney John P. Liberti was sentenced Monday to three years' probation and 300 hours of community service for assaulting an off-duty corrections officer at a concert last year in the Town Ballroom in Buffalo.

Erie County Judge Michael F. Pietruszka, who sentenced Liberti, had found him guilty of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, after a two-day nonjury trial in May.

Liberti was convicted of breaking Brian E. Parkin's ankle in a scuffle in the Town Ballroom in March 2010.

Parkin said Liberti's "unprofessional and reckless actions" changed his life and left him with permanent severely limited capabilities.

"I was attacked by the defendant from behind in a fit of rage," Parkin told Pietruszka in Erie County Court as he appealed for a maximum sentence.

Liberti could have been sentenced to local jail for up to one year.

Parkin, who said he spent three months on crutches, called Liberti arrogant and said he had "anger and personality issues."

Andrew C. LoTempio, Liberti's defense attorney, bristled at Parkin's comments.

"I'm going to need anger management classes after listening to Mr. Parkin," LoTempio told the judge.

Parkin had sought $76,000 in restitution, LoTempio said.

The judge ordered $995 in restitution, to pay for such costs as uncovered co-pays for medical treatments.

LoTempio described the incident as a bar fight and sought a conditional discharge for Liberti.

Liberti still faces professional disciplinary proceedings, and for that reason, LoTempio said he advised him not to speak in court.

The scuffle broke out over a leather jacket.

LoTempio has said that as Liberti's wife went to put her coat on, Parkin ripped it off her back, claiming it was his.

Most men in Liberti's situation would have reacted as he did, coming to the defense of his wife, LoTempio said.

The judge had ruled that Liberti's actions caused the painful injury to Parkin, a sergeant on the corrections staff at Wende Correctional Facility, but not that he did it intentionally. So Pietruszka found Liberti not guilty on a felony charge of second-degree assault that a grand jury had lodged against him.