A Niagara County Sheriff’s lieutenant was recently disciplined for interfering in the DWI arrest of a state Supreme Court justice law clerk’s daughter.
The Lockport Union-Sun & Journal reports Lt. Steve Broderick was the subject of a “personnel action” after he convinced a deputy under his command to reduce a drunken driving charge that had been lodged against the daughter of Ron Winter, a former assistant Niagara County District Attorney and the current law clerk to state Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr.
The details of “personnel action” have not been disclosed.
“This (the reduction of a driving while intoxicated charge) was done for a personal reason,” Undersheriff Michael Filicetti told the Journal. “As a result (of an internal investigation), there was personnel action taken against Lt. Broderick.”
The Journal attempted to contact Broderick, but reports calls have not been returned.
Filicetti said Broderick’s troubles began after a sheriff’s deputy stopped a car driven by Rachel Winter at 3:19 a.m. Nov. 24 in Lockport. He tells the Journal Winter was observed driving without her lights on and making wide turns.
The deputy conducted a stop, and suspecting she was under the influence, he conduced field sobriety tests.
When Winter failed the field sobriety tests, she was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.
“The deputy gave her Miranda arrest warnings and DWI refusal warnings advising her of the consequences of not taking a Breathalyzer test,” Filicetti said.
“Winter then requested to speak with her father, who is an attorney.”
Filicetti said the deputy then called his on-duty supervisor, Broderick, for guidance.
“Broderick asked the deputy if she is related to Ron Winter,” Filicetti said. “He Broderick said, ‘I know Ron Winter.’”
The deputy let Winter call her father from the scene.
“Rachel calls her father for the purpose of deciding whether to take the Breathalyzer test,” Filicetti said. “There’s no resolution on the test, and she is transported to our department for processing.”
Winter declined to take the Breathalyzer, and the arresting officer began preparing his paperwork charging her with DWI. The Journal reports it was at this point Broderick stepped in on Winter’s behalf.
“Broderick arrived in the arrest processing area and suggested that the deputy lessen the charge,” the undersheriff told the Journal. “The deputy said to Broderick, ‘It’s up to you.’ And Broderick said, ‘Well you have to be comfortable with the change.’”
According the department’s internal investigation, the charges against Winter were reduced to reckless driving and failure to keep right.
Justices across several counties recused themselves from the case. State Supreme Court Justice Paula Feroleto, the chief administrative judge for the Eight Judicial District of New York, transferred the case to Orleans County District Attorney Joseph Cardone.
After the case was transferred to Orleans County, an unnamed person viewed the arresting deputy’s body camera and contacted Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour prompting further investigation.
“We opened an investigation into what transpired,” Filicetti said. “We had some concerns about why Winter wasn’t charged with DWI.”
The undersheriff told the Journal in addition to disciplining Broderick, the office has advised the Orleans County DA it is withdrawing the reckless driving charge against Winter and re-filing the original DWI charge.
“We have told the DA it is our intention to charge her as the deputy originally intended to,” Filicetti said. “She will be charged with driving while intoxicated, improper lane and no headlights.”
Broderick is also the Lewiston Town Supervisor
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