BY RICK PFEIFFER

pfeifferr@gnnewspaper.com

In a court appearance that lasted less than a minute, former state Assembly candidate and Democratic party operative Gary Parenti pleaded not guilty to several traffic charges Wednesday morning and bolted from the city courthouse through a side door to avoid the press.

“He (Parenti) has no comment,” defense attorney James Faso said. “I just came on this case. I was just given the (court) papers and I’m reviewing them.”

Parenti, 42, 955 Harrison Ave., entered his plea to charges of driving while ability impaired by alcohol, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and passing a red light. He remains free on his own recognizance and is due back in court April 30 for a pre-trial hearing.

The driving while impaired and passing a red light charge are traffic violations that could result in fines if Parenti is found guilty of them. The aggravated unlicensed operation charge is a misdemeanor that carries a fine and a possible 30 day jail term.

The misdemeanor charge is the result of Parenti’s driver’s license being suspended for his failure to appear on a traffic charge in Grand Island Town Court.

“It was a traffic infraction he didn’t know about,” Faso said.

Parenti was stopped at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, by Falls Police Roving Anti-Crime Unit officers. The officers said Parenti drove his Ford Explorer through a red light at 19th Street and Pine Avenue, honking his horn as he went through the intersection.

When officers pulled him over at 19th and Falls streets, Parenti had a known gang member and drug user in his passenger seat, smelled of alcohol, had glassy eyes and was slurring his speech. Parenti told the cops he had four beers before driving, though he later claimed to have had six glasses of wine.

Officers had both Parenti and his passenger, identified as David Allen Glenn, step out of the SUV. While Glenn was questioned, Parenti was asked to perform several field sobriety tests.

Police said Parenti passed an alphabet test, but failed finger to nose and walk and turn tests.

When he was asked to perform a one leg stand test officers said Parenti “gave up” and said, “I can’t do these tests. Do what you have to do.”

Glenn told police he was in the car with Parenti because the prominent politician, who has recently been working on the presidential campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton, had paid him $2 in change to “find some hookers.” The area of 19th Street, between Niagara and Falls streets, where Parenti’s vehicle was stopped, is known to be frequented by prostitutes.

Parenti did take a Breathalyzer test and registered a blood alcohol content of .07 percent. The legal limit for driving while intoxicated in New York state is 0.08 percent.

Officers said after Parenti was arrested, he looked at them and said, “My career is over.”

Contact reporter Rick Pfeifferat 282-2311, ext. 2252.

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