Rochester, New York, City Court Judge Leticia Astacio, who could be stripped of her judgeship next month by the Court of Appeals in the wake of a DWI conviction in 2016, is now being charged in a separate incident for allegedly attempting to illegally purchase a gun in April, a special prosecutor has said.
Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch, who was appointed to look into the matter, announced late Tuesday that a grand jury has filed a one-count indictment charging Astacio with attempted criminal purchase or disposal of a weapon, a class D felony.
The indictment alleged that Astacio, who is prohibited from owning a gun, tried to buy a 12-gauge shotgun from Dick’s Sporting Goods in the town of Henrietta in April, according to the press release. Astacio is reportedly prohibited from possessing a gun as a condition of her probation.
Astacio is represented by Mark Foti, a criminal defense attorney in Rochester. He noted Tuesday afternoon that during a grand jury proceeding, there is no opportunity to challenge a prosecutor’s case before the jury decides whether to file charges.
“We are disappointed that the grand jury in Leticia Astacio’s case was led to an indictment that we believe is inconsistent with the law,” Foti said. “We look forward to the opportunity to bring evidentiary and constitutional challenges against these charges in court, and we are ready to litigate.”
It’s the latest twist in a long-running legal saga for Astacio, which began in 2016 when she was arrested and convicted for driving while intoxicated. She has maintained that she was not drunk at the time of the arrest.
The state Commission on Judicial Conduct, a state panel that disciplines the state’s judges, recommended that she be removed from the bench earlier this year for the conviction and certain behavior she exhibited while on the bench. In one occasion, she failed to recuse herself in a case where the defendant was a former client, for example.
She also violated her conditional discharge after her conviction when she drank alcohol at least once. The commission knew she drank because she was required to blow into an ignition interlock device before she drove her car. The device detected alcohol twice. Astacio said after the first time that she was unaware she could not drink as a condition of her discharge. She has not said whether the second “bad blow” was from her or someone else.
She also failed to show up to a court appearance after the second “bad blow” because she was on an international vacation. She has claimed that her attorney at the time called her to tell her about the hearing after she told him she should be contacted only by email while on the trip.
She asked the Court of Appeals to review the commission’s decision to remove her earlier this year. The high court heard arguments on her removal last week.
Robert Julian, a personal injury attorney from Central New York, represented Astacio in arguments. He could not immediately be reached for comment on the new charge
The maximum sentence for the charge would be seven years in prison, though the judge would have discretion to sentence Astacio without any time behind bars if she’s convicted.