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Judge OKs return of bail to friend in fatal hit-run

The family friend who posted bail for a woman accused of leaving the scene of a fatal hit-and-run accident in Hamburg last summer can get his money back, a judge has ruled.

Ashley Sawicki, 22, has been free on $50,000 bail since shortly after her arrest last October in the death of Jennifer Martello, 29, who was fatally struck while walking near her home on Big Tree Road around 12:30 a.m. July 15.

Ronald Barczak, who then was dating Michelle Rubeck, Sawicki’s mother, put up $5,000 for the bond to have Sawicki released pending her trial.

However, two weeks ago, Barczak told Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio that Rubeck had broken off their relationship and that he no longer wanted to be responsible for the bail.

He explained that he wasn’t in contact with the family anymore and could not guarantee that Sawicki would comply with the conditions of her release.

Defense attorney Dominic P. Candino countered that Barczak was “a scorned guy who wants his five-grand cash back.” He characterized the request as retaliatory toward Rubeck, with his client caught in the middle.

DiTullio granted Barczak’s request to be refunded his money, and reset bail at $25,000. Sawicki has until Friday to either post the bail or be taken into custody.

Hearings also are continuing on whether the judge will allow into evidence statements that Sawicki made to Hamburg town police when she was interviewed at her home Aug. 29, 2014, and at the police station Oct. 1.

Sawicki was arrested shortly after she gave detectives her statement Oct. 1 admitting that she had hit someone and fled the scene. Leaving the scene of a fatal incident without reporting is a felony that, upon conviction, could carry a prison sentence of up to seven years.

Assistant District Attorney Kelley A. Omel is prosecuting the case.