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Falls man pleads guilty to crashing stolen pickup while drunk

LOCKPORT – A man who stole a pickup truck in Niagara Falls last year and crashed it into a tree and a rock in the median of Niagara Street pleaded guilty Friday to a Class D felony count of driving while intoxicated, which could send him to prison for as long as seven years.

Luther I. Douglas Jr., 28, of Walnut Avenue in the Falls, also admitted to third-degree unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor, in a case that Deputy District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner said could have been called a carjacking. Douglas had not been indicted, but Brenner said, “If it was presented to the grand jury, we might look into that carjacking. It might be more serious.”

The 2004 Chevrolet Avalanche was taken from in front of the Pizza Oven, 1903 Niagara St., on March 23, 2014. The driver, a woman who was inside the pizzeria at the time, ran and tried to stop Douglas and said she was dragged a short distance by the truck. Douglas, who left after the crash and refused the breath test, has two previous DWI convictions, from 2007 and 2010 in Niagara County.

Douglas entered alcohol treatment after the arrest, but on Jan. 31, he was arrested on another DWI charge, which was dropped in the plea bargain, Brenner said. State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. will pass sentence May 15.