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Auburn man who crashed into tree pleads guilty to driving drunk

Auburn man who crashed into tree pleads guilty to driving drunk

AUBURN — In September, an Auburn man crashed into a tree in the middle of the night while driving drunk.

Mitchell Nevidomsky, 33, pleaded guilty in Cayuga County Court Tuesday to first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a class E felony, and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, a misdemeanor. His plea also satisfied two traffic infractions of leaving the scene of an accident and having an uninspected vehicle.

"I was in the car when I shouldn't have been," Nevidomsky said of the 2:40 a.m. crash. "I hit the tree in front of my house."

The airbags deployed and Nevidomsky said he was knocked unconscious, not remembering the 15 minutes before or after the accident. He didn't dispute that he was driving when not allowed to or that he was intoxicated at the time. He had a conditional license at the time.

Judge Thomas Leone said in light of Nevidomsky's plea, he will likely go forward with the agreed-upon sentence — worked out between the defense and the district attorney's Office — of five years of shock probation. For Nevidomsky, that would mean being on probation for five years, but spending weekends in Cayuga County Jail for the first three months.

Leone said he was concerned about Nevidomsky's ability to succeed on probation. Nevidomsky has a prior conviction of driving while impaired as well as a pending DWI case in Auburn City Court from July. Leone said at the time of sentencing he may also also offer for Nevidomsky to spend one year in jail instead, noting that if he violates his probation he'll be facing 1 1/3 to four years in prison.

Also in court

•  A woman was sentenced to probation for a 2017 drug-fueled burglary in Cayuga County.

Haylee Tanner, 26, pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary, a class D felony, back in November 2017. She admitted stealing a TV and clothes from a Wall Street apartment. Tanner lived in Auburn at the time of the crime.

Joseph Sapio, Tanner’s defense attorney, had said at her plea that the burglary was fueled by a drug addiction. Although Tanner could have faced up to seven years in prison, Judge Mark Fandrich said he’d likely sentence her to five years of probation.

In court Tuesday morning, Fandrich did just that.

Sapio said Tanner, who was in a halfway house in the Utica area, currently reports to probation in Oneida County and participates in drug court. Everything appears to be going well, he added.

Sapio said Tanner was sentenced to an interim period of probation in February 2018, and asked that her five year probationary sentence’s start date track back to 2018 as well.

“I want to say thank you for the opportunity ... I’m happy I’ve turned my life around,” Tanner said Tuesday. “Leaving Auburn has helped.”

“The road to recovery is not a straight line; it takes a lot of courage,” Fandrich said before issuing Tanner’s sentence.

Fandrich terminated Tanner’s interim sentence of probation and sentenced her to five years of probation to begin back in February 2018 and expire in February 2023. He gave her one year to pay the $325 mandatory surcharge and $50 DNA fee.

• A Weedsport man is facing his third drunk driving charge in 25 years. 

Eric Gilfus, 33, appeared in court Tuesday for violating a probationary sentence he received from Seneca County in August 2014 for his conviction of first-degree operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, a class E felony. 

Senior Assistant District Attorney Diane Adsit said Gilfus was convicted of driving while intoxicated with children in the car in 2005 in addition to his 2014 felony DWI. She said he is now facing a second felony DWI for driving drunk in Weedsport with his children and wife in the car in September. 

A state police blotter in December 2018 indicated Gilfus was charged with first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of at least .08 of 1 percent, driving while intoxicated with a previous conviction in the last 10 years, aggravated driving while intoxicated and operating a vehicle without an interlock device.

"I certainly do not make light of the allegations," Gilfus' defense attorney, James Daley, said, but added that he believes Gilfus would do well if given the opportunity to do more intensive treatment.

"He's shown himself to be a productive member of society," Daley said, saying Gilfus has worked at Anheuser-Busch for six years and his family counts on his income and health insurance.

In court Tuesday, Gilfus admitted to being arrested in September, but not to any of the charges. He was released on his own recognizance until he is due back in court on April 9.

• An out-of-state teen was granted youthful offender status and sentenced to prison for punching an Auburn police officer in the face. 

The 18-year-old will spend 1 1/3 to four years in prison for his conviction of second-degree assault, a felony. Leone issued the offender's sentence as a shock camp order, which allows young adults to be incarcerated in a therapeutic environment where they receive substance abuse treatment, academic education, and other help to promote their reintegration into the community, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Staff writer Megan Ehrhart can be reached at (315) 282-2244 or Follow her on Twitter @MeganEhrhart.


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