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Contrite Boynton pleads guilty to violation in casino incident

A contrite and apologetic Nick Boynton pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct Friday in Buffalo City Court, hoping to put behind him a drunken rampage at Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino last March that embarrassed his family and the Arizona Coyotes.

Boynton had yelled and cursed at casino workers and patrons, shoved one patron off a chair and bit a police officer on the hand during an incident at the casino March 26. He was in town with his job as a radio commentator for the NHL Coyotes, but was suspended shortly after his arrest. Boynton said Friday he plans to contact the Coyotes’ management and seek reinstatement.

In pleading guilty to the violation, instead of more-serious misdemeanor charges, the former Boston Bruins defenseman agreed to perform 100 hours of community service and lead a law-abiding life. He also agreed to continue with alcohol counseling and to avoid the downtown Buffalo casino for one year under terms imposed by Judge JaHarr Pridgen.

Boynton could have been sentenced to up to 15 days in jail.

“I feel terrible. I want to apologize to my family, to the Arizona Coyotes,” Boynton, 36, said outside the courtroom following his sentencing. “I want to put this in my past and learn from my mistakes and make sure this does not happen again.”

“I’m hoping to be back with the organization,” said Boynton, a Phoenix resident.

Defense attorney Keith B. Schulefand said his client is in a better position to regain his job now that the misdemeanor charges, third-degree assault, criminal mischief and resisting arrest, have been dropped. Boynton could have faced up to a year in jail if he had been convicted on the original charges.

In explaining why Boynton was offered a plea deal, Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said Boynton had no prior criminal record and that the arresting officers, Detective Kevin Biggs and Officer Garrett M. O’neill, did not object to the resolution.

“We handled it just like any other case, like any other person acting drunk and stupid at a bar and getting into a confrontation with the police,” Sedita said. “We examined the conduct and his record. We asked the police if they were satisfied. They were, but if they weren’t there would have been no plea offer.”

Assistant District Attorney John G. Schoemick had recommended 50 hours of community service, but the judge doubled the time and said she wanted the service completed by Nov. 8. He will complete the community service in Arizona.

If Boynton wants to enter the casino after the one-year ban, he must request permission from casino officials, according to the conditions of the plea deal.