You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Judge sentenced to 60 days jail, 3 years probation

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/7/2017 Sean Lahman
Judge Leticia Astacio of Rochester (N.Y.) City Court, center, cries out after her daughter's outburst. She had just received a 60-day jail sentence for violating the terms of her 2016 drunken-driving conviction. © Shawn Dowd, Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle Judge Leticia Astacio of Rochester (N.Y.) City Court, center, cries out after her daughter's outburst. She had just received a 60-day jail sentence for violating the terms of her 2016 drunken-driving conviction.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A City Court judge was sentenced Thursday to 60 days in jail plus three years probation for violating the conditions of her 2016 drunken-driving conviction.

Before Judge Leticia Astacio's sentence was handed down, she spoke for more than 20 minutes, telling Judge Stephen Aronson of Canandaigua City Court, who is overseeing her case, that she had complied with everything the court had asked her to do and more.

"I'm not drinking. I'm not driving. I completed treatment," she said. "I want this all to be over, but it's not in my control."

Astacio also blasted the relentless media coverage surrounding her case, referring to some journalists by name. She said many of the reports about her case contained misinformation and remained uncorrected.

"If you Google my name, you'll find these stories," she said. "The media is trying to break me."

In February 2016 while on her way to work, Astacio was charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. A state trooper testified he found Astacio's SUV on the side of Interstate 490 with extensive front-end damage and both driver's side tires flat.

In August, she was found guilty of driving while intoxicated after a bench trial. Submitting to random court-ordered drug tests and abstaining from alcohol were among the conditions of the sentence Astacio received.

In June, she was found guilty of violating those terms.

She told Aronson that it is painful to be known as "hashtag drunk judge" rather than for being a good mom and a person who overcame adversity to find success. She said she represented not only all of the people who voted for her but stood as a symbol to others in the inner city that it's possible for anyone there to succeed as she has.

In addition to ruining her reputation, she said the media coverage has prevented her from doing volunteer work. Local organizations she approached told her they didn't want the publicity her presence would bring.

"My reputation is ruined, but I'm more worried about the impact this is having on my kids," Astacio said.

Astacio tearfully recounted seeing her daughter tell a television reporter that she felt responsible for her mother being in jail, calling it the most painful thing she ever had experienced.

"You can't punish me any more than you already have," she told the judge.

But Aronson took exception to Astacio's comments, speaking forcefully from the bench.

"Nowhere in your presentation did I hear one word of remorse or contrition for the acts that you were found guilty of," he said. "You give me the impression that you are disregarding the judicial system and avoiding your responsibilities under it."

Aronson spent 18 years as a treatment court judge in Ontario County, N.Y., and said he had ample experience dealing with defendants who avoid complying with the terms of their convictions for drug and alcohol offenses.

"I deal with people who avoid the system, and you're giving me all indications that you're avoiding the system," Aronson said.

After Aronson revealed the sentence, Astacio's defense lawyer, Mark Young. said his client would prefer a straight jail term, even the maximum sentence, with no probation. The exchange quickly grew testy.

"What she wants is irrelevant," Aronson said. "She will be sentenced to probation, and she will be having someone monitor her in the future."

Young replied that Astacio, a Democrat who was elected to a 10-year term on Rochester City Court in 2014, indicated she would not comply.

"She is not willing to do probation," Young said. "She will violate probation the moment you put her on probation."

"Then we will come back (to court)," Aronson said.

Astacio ended up in jail because she failed to submit to a urinalysis that would test for alcohol consumption.

On April 29, the ignition interlock device on her car registered a blood-alcohol-content reading of 0.0651% as someone tried to start it. Astacio said her daughter blew into the car breathalyzer; other people are allowed to drive cars outfitted with such equipment.

But Aronson didn't order the urinalysis until several days later. Astacio left May 2 for Thailand without telling the court or her lawyer. 

She did not take the test until her return to the United States more than a month later. She was taken into custody June 5 at the Monroe County Hall of Justice and has remained in jail since then.

Before heading to jail, Astacio still received her paycheck but has been prohibited from presiding over cases since before her drunken driving conviction in August and has been barred from entering non-public areas of the courthouse since November. She has continued to receive her $173,700 salary because she remains an elected judge. 

On Thursday, Astacio said that when she left the country, she assumed all violations were resolved.

Assistant District Attorney Zach Maurer said he believed that Astacio's comments Thursday were sincere but agreed with Aronson about her lack of remorse.

"Throughout this proceeding, in the pre-sentence investigation and in her statement to the court, I didn't hear her once apologize for her own conduct and her actions," Maurer said outside the courtroom. "I think that's what the judge probably took some issue with."

Astacio likely will serve 45 days of the 60-day sentence with credit for the 30 days she already has served. She'll also need to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet for 6 months.

Follow Sean Lahman on Twitter: @seanlahman

 

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From USA TODAY

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon