LOCKPORT – Two teenagers who punched the Lockport High School athletic director and a monitor while being thrown out of the school gym during a Dec. 3 basketball scrimmage received identical sentences Friday.
Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas granted youthful offender status to both youths and sent them to state prison for one to three years.
She recommended that both the 16-year-old and the 18-year-old be assigned to the prison system’s boot camp-like “shock incarceration” program.
“It’s six months of military training, basically,” Farkas told the 16-year-old. “Hopefully, this will be the wakeup call you need.”
The teens will be paroled after the six months, if they succeed in the program. If not, they will serve the full sentence, meaning they are eligible for parole after a year.
The Buffalo News generally does not identify those convicted and also granted youthful offender status.
Both teens pleaded guilty in January to reduced charges of attempted second-degree assault in connection with their attack on Athletic Director Patrick M. Burke and monitor George F. Apolito Jr.
Burke, 55, suffered a bloody nose and was cut on the face and lip. Apolito, 67, was cut inside his lip and on the cheek and hand. He suffered a loose tooth, and his eyeglasses were broken,
The attackers, both intoxicated, were being ejected from the spectator area in the gym for unruly behavior when they attacked Burke and Apolito, police said at the time. Both have been in the Niagara County Jail ever since.
David C. Douglas, defense attorney for the 18-year-old, said his client attempted suicide in jail in recent days, since the completion of a presentencing report by a probation officer.
According to Douglas, the boy’s parents were glad they refused to bail him out, saying that the suicide attempt might have succeeded on the outside.
But Farkas wasn’t impressed with their parenting, noting that the boy had said in the interview that he had been drinking daily since he was 13 and also smoked marijuana daily.
“How does a parent not see that?” Farkas asked.
“He clearly is a young man with no direction,” Douglas said.
As for the 16-year-old, Assistant Public Defender Michael E. Benedict said he was on Family Court-ordered probation at the time of the assault. Benedict said there was no father in the boy’s life, and his mother, sister and cousin had all given up on taming him.
Benedict said the teen had downed a large quantity of whiskey before going to the gym on Dec. 3. Benedict said shock incarceration might give the boy some structure in his life.
“Shock will give him everything he needs,” Farkas said.
Both boys apologized for their actions.
“I was embarrassed,” the 16-year-old said.