Man sentenced to 10 years in crash that injured officer

James Carver and members of the Nassau County Police Department react after Louie Blanton, who seriously injured a Nassau officer during a high-speed chase, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (March 5, 2013)

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A former Nassau police officer looked on stoically Tuesday as her husband chastised the man who ended her career when he caused her to crash during a high-speed chase on the Southern State Parkway.

"You going to look at me, Lou? Tough guy?" Gregg Magnifico said to Louie Blanton minutes before a judge sentenced the Amityville man to 10 years in prison for aggravated assault on a police officer and unlawful fleeing.

In a courtroom packed with uniformed officers, Magnifico, himself a Nassau police sergeant, told Blanton, 24, that the life-threatening injuries that his wife, Colleen, sustained won't extinguish her spirit.

"This is a tough, tough, tough lady," he said as his petite wife sat in the front row, hands folded in her lap. "This accident was just a test to show everyone else how tough she is. Think this is going to keep her down? It's not."

Colleen Magnifico, 47, of Great River, didn't speak at the sentencing and was also silent as she left the courthouse.

Prosecutor Brendan Ahern said that on Nov. 21, 2011, Magnifico first tried to pull Blanton over in Massapequa, after witnesses reported seeing two men replacing the car's license plates and acting suspiciously.

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Blanton fled into oncoming traffic, entering the Southern State Parkway heading east, Ahern said.

Ahern said Blanton was driving well over 100 mph when he slammed on the brakes near Exit 32 in Farmingdale, forcing Magnifico to swerve out of the way.

She struck a guardrail and bounced out into traffic, where the cruiser was hit by another vehicle.

Blanton then fled the scene, prosecutors said. He was arrested on Feb. 29, 2012, after he began speaking about the crime to acquaintances, one of whom alerted police. He has been held in jail since his arrest.

"He left her there to die," said James Carver, who heads the Nassau Police Benevolent Association.

Carver said it's unlikely Magnifico will recover enough from her injuries to return to her old job.

The 20-year police veteran and mother to a young daughter suffered a fractured spine, collapsed lung, fractured ribs, and fractures to her sternum, collarbone, shoulder blade and nasal bone.

In court Tuesday, Blanton apologized to Magnifico, her family and his own family.

"Like any other human being, I made a mistake," he said. "I'm going to stand here and face that."

Blanton's lawyer, Joseph LoPiccolo, said his client hopes to get out of prison in time to know his own three children, who are now between the ages of 1 and 8.

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Judge Jerald Carter said the ripples from Blanton's bad judgment will touch many people, including Blanton's own children and Magnifico's daughter.

"She looks at her mother and she is not the same person she was," the judge said. "There are scars that are going to be left on that 8-year-old. If her mother leaves the house, she's going to wonder if she's coming back."

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