Dad sentenced after leaving son in car with heroin
A Kings Park man who ran from police after a traffic stop, abandoning his 4-year-old son in the backseat of a car with heroin in it, was sentenced to 3 years' probation Tuesday.
Paul Lucente, 30, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child in First District Court in Central Islip.
He had already spent 45 days in jail following his April 23 arrest, and was credited with time served.
Judge Richard Horowitz, who called Lucente's crime "disturbing," also ordered him to enter a substance-abuse treatment program.
"I expect you to live a sober and law-abiding life," Horowitz told him.
The judge also warned Lucente he will serve a year in jail if he endangers his son again during the probation period.
"If you're going to be a parent, you're going to have to be a responsible one," Horowitz said.
Lucente's lawyer, Thomas Zawyrucha, told Horowitz his client had cleaned up his act since the incident.
"He's not the same person he was," Zawyrucha said.
Lucente declined to comment after the sentencing.
Police said he ran off without his son after a Fourth Precinct officer stopped the 1995 Lincoln sedan he was a passenger in on April 23. The Lincoln's driver, Benjamin Laudonio, 26, of Stony Brook, was drunk, high on drugs and had a suspended license, police said.
The officer had seen the car cross the center divider on Route 25 in Smithtown, east of Southern Boulevard, at 11:40 a.m., police said. Officers said they found heroin inside the car.
Lucente's son was cared for by police until his maternal grandfather picked him up.
A few hours after fleeing the scene, Lucente surrendered by calling police from his home, where they arrested him.
Laudonio pleaded guilty last month to driving while intoxicated, driving while impaired by drugs, endangering the welfare of a child and possession of a controlled substance, according to court records. He is due to be sentenced in July 2013.