John “Jack” Pieri apparently doesn’t know how to listen. So he’s going back to jail for up to a year.
Pieri was convicted of criminal solicitation in 2010 for encouraging his girlfriend to leave the scene of a serious hit-and-run accident near Daemen College. He was sentenced to a year in jail, but the conviction was overturned on a technicality.
In 2011, Amherst Town Justice Geoffrey Klein sentenced Pieri to 30 days in jail and three years’ probation. He said in court Thursday that he had some misgivings at the time but wanted to give Pieri the benefit of the doubt.
Klein sentenced Pieri, 40, to a year in jail for repeatedly and flagrantly violating the terms of his probation, which prohibited him from drinking alcohol or leaving Erie County without permission. The Town of Tonawanda resident became the first person in the state to serve jail time as a car passenger in a hit-and-run accident. Until Pieri’s case, many defense lawyers considered it far-fetched for a vehicle passenger to be criminally convicted for simply speaking to the driver directly involved in a hit-and-run accident.
Pieri, 40, urged his girlfriend, Andrea L. Glinski, to speed away after she struck two young women at about 1:40 a.m. March 7, 2009, at at the red light at Main Street and Campus Drive, Snyder.
Glinski was sentenced to one to three years in prison for felony hit-and-run charges that left University at Buffalo graduate Amy Stewart and Daemen College senior Rachel Baird seriously injured.
Stewart wept when Pieri turned to her in court and apologized, saying he would do anything he could for her.
“He said if there’s anything he could do ... ,” she sobbed. “There are things he can’t fix.” She said she suffered traumatic brain injury, needed to relearn basic skills and will never again have the chance to play competitive sports.
Assistant District Attorney Kelley Omel laid out for the court how Pieri was seen by the DA’s own staff attending Artpark and Lockport concerts in Niagara County without permission on six different occasions. On four of those occasions, he was clearly seen drinking alcohol. District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said, “People who are from my office – and are not on probation and therefore are allowed to drink – see him out, and they know who he is.”
One staffer even took pictures of him with his cellphone.
Two visits to Pieri’s home by probation officers also turned up alcohol there. He was repeatedly warned by his probation officer after several of these incidents that he was violating his probation and could face serious consequences, but he didn’t stop.
“He’s been given every opportunity,” Omel said.
Pieri’s lawyer, Frank LoTempio III, acknowledged Pieri violated his probation but argued that the nature of his violations do not merit a full year in jail. He said Pieri did not stray far from Erie County and does not have an alcohol addiction. Pieri does, however, have a serious learning disability, which was only recently uncovered, he said.
“I think the court can see the learning disability comes into play here,” LoTempio said. “John doesn’t listen. Maybe he needs mental health counseling more than anything else.”
LoTempio said Pieri was a productive citizen with a job, a car and an apartment – all of which he’d lose if he was sentenced to a full jail term.
Klein was unmoved and sentenced Pieri to the maximum jail time allowed for a misdemeanor. He would still get time off for the 30 days he’s already served and for good behavior.
Stewart noted that Pieri can one day get back the things he’ll lose while in jail.
She said, “I lost things I can never get back.”