NORTH TONAWANDA -- Just eight weeks after his arrest, following a head-on crash on the Robert Moses Parkway, a Niagara County Family Court support magistrate has been convicted of driving while his ability was impaired by alcohol and failure to keep right.
Magistrate Timothy Cooper, 59, of Derby, was fined $300 and had his driver's license suspended for 90 days.
The verdict was handed down by North Tonawanda City Court Judge William Lewis. Lewis handled the case because both justices in the Town of Lewiston, where the crash occurred, removed themselves from the matter.
The case, which rocketed through the court system after Lewis took it over, ended with a 90 minute-long, non-jury trial Monday afternoon. Assistant District Attorney John Granchelli called two witnesses to the crash and a state trooper to testify.
Cooper's defense attorney. Joe Leone, called no witnesses.
Robert Pawlik, a security guard from Niagara Falls, said he was driving directly behind a tan SUV, that was heading south on the parkway around 10:10 p.m. on April 23. Pawlik said as the SUV passed under the a New York Power Authority overpass, it was hit head-on by another SUV that was going northbound.
"I witnessed the vehicle heading northbound cross over the center line and make contact with (the tan SUV)," Pawlik said. "I told my girlfriend to call 911 and got out to see what happened."
Pawlik said he ran up to the northbound SUV and found Cooper behind the wheel.
"I ran up and asked (Cooper) if he was Ok," Pawlik said, "and he gave me a nod and a thumbs up."
A second witness, insurance agent Michael Fasso, was driving northbound behind Cooper's SUV, but too far away to see what actually happened. Fasso said he heard the crash and they saw the tan SUV heading straight at his car.