Astacio indicted on weapons charge

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. - Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio has been indicted by a Monroe County grand jury on one count of attempted criminal purchase or disposal of a weapon.

According to Monroe County Sheriff's deputies, Astacio attempted to buy a shotgun at Dick's Sporting Goods in Henrietta on April 2.

Court paperwork shows employees declined to sell the Maverick 88 .12 gauge shotgun to the judge based on the store's policies.

In June, the case was waived to the grand jury. Astacio's attorney, Mark Foti, made a motion for the case to be dismissed, arguing that ownership of an unloaded shotgun did not violate Judge Astacio's probation, which prohibits her from owning a dangerous weapon. That motion was denied.

This news comes a week after Judge Astacio appeared before New York State Court of Appeals in Albany in an effort to stay on the bench. The Judicial Conduct Commission had previously ruled her elected position should be taken away, stemming from her 2016 misdemeanor DWI conviction and other examples of alleged erratic behavior over the last several years.

Astacio currently remains suspended with pay. It could be months before the Court of Appeals rules on the matter.

If convicted on the felony weapons charge, she would lose her license to practice law in New York.

Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch was brought on to prosecute the case, so as to avoid a conflict of interest. Tuesday, Porsch's office released the following statement:

Special District Attorney for Monroe County Barry Porsch announced that a Monroe County Grand Jury has voted and filed a one-count indictment charging Leticia Astacio with Attempted Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon, a class D felony. The indictment alleged that Astacio, knowing that she was prohibited from possessing a shotgun because of a disability that rendered her ineligible to lawfully possess a shotgun, attempted to purchase a 12 gauge shotgun from Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Town of Henrietta on April 2, 2018. The arraignment date has not yet been set, but it is expected to take place next week in Monroe County or Supreme Court. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Foti, Astacio's attorney, released this statement Tuesday:

The grand jury is a secret proceeding where the presentation of the evidence and the instruction of the law are both left to the prosecutor's discretion. There is no judicial review or challenge to the prosecution's presentation prior to the filing of an indictment. We are disappointed that the grand jury in Leticia Astacio's case was led to an indictment that we believe is inconsistent with the law. We look forward to the opportunity to bring evidentiary and constitutional challenges against these charges in court, and we are ready to litigate.

Astacio is scheduled to be arraigned at the Hall of Justice in Rochester on October 1 at 11 a.m.

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