ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Embattled Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio was released from jail after appearing Friday in court at a probation violation hearing.
Astacio is accused of going to Del Lago Resort and Casino in Seneca County, two counties away, in September, without giving her probation officer proper notification. That would violate her parole on a previous, well-publicized DWI conviction.
Her attorney raised a new issue on a point of law, saying Astacio was illegally provided with her probation conditions after, instead of when she was sentenced in July.
“What I’ve been saying along: she shouldn’t have been on probation to begin with," said Gregory Salmon, Astacio’s attorney. "Our position is that my client was illegally sentenced, and I believe that the people have an obligation – which they have begun to fulfill – to inform the court of that illegality.”
Astacio has been off the bench since her DWI conviction for drunk driving in February 2016, following a crash on Interstate 490. Part of her sentence was to abstain from drinking, but then Astacio spent time in jail for not reporting for an alcohol test.
"I'm sorry that this happened, obviously," Astacio said. "I mean, it’s been incredibly difficult and traumatic for me and for my family. If I could undo everything, would I be nicer to the trooper? Yeah, I think that would’ve avoided all of this, but I can’t, and I think that everything happens for a reason, including going to jail twice. I met a lot of very interesting people, I learned an amazing amount, so it’s difficult to say it would undo anything."
The prosecution now has to investigate the matter.
“That caught me a little bit off guard," said prosecutor Zach Maurer, "and I spoke with her probation officers. They confirmed the sequence of events, and on that short notice, I just didn’t have the opportunity to do the legal research to figure out what other courts have said about this. Would I argue this prejudiced her rights in any way? Probably not.”
Judge Stephen Aronson made no decision Friday on the merits of the motion, but said Astacio could be released while the prosecution investigates the issue.
Astacio is still collecting a $174,000 per year salary. Only the state Judicial Conduct Commission can remove a judge or remove his or her salary.
Astacio is expected back in court December 1.