Woman cleared of crashing car through house
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The Brooklyn woman who initially told police she was the one who drove drunk through a house in Huntington apologized Thursday to the elderly women who lived there and thanked prosecutors for concluding it was actually her then-boyfriend who was behind the wheel on Memorial Day.
"I understand my false statements to the police department that night of the crash caused confusion and seriously complicated the police investigation," said Sophia Anderson, 21, as her parents stood behind her, her mother's hand on her back.
Her former boyfriend, Daniel Sajewski, 23, of Brooklyn, was charged Wednesday with driving while intoxicated and felony counts of offering a false instrument for filing, making an apparently sworn statement and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. He pleaded not guilty.
After the crash, Anderson and Suffolk prosecutors say, Sajewski persuaded Anderson to say she was driving because he wanted to avoid adding to a criminal record that already included drug dealing, theft and violating probation.
"He told me that the authorities would treat me lightly as a first-time offender, that he would post bail for me, pay for my attorney and take me on a promised vacation to the Hamptons," she said in a voice that wavered with emotion. "None of these statements were true, and after I was released from jail, he promised that he would accept responsibility and those promises were also not fulfilled. I feel betrayed by a man who I was in love with and lived with for two years."
In court, Anderson pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of obstructing governmental administration and conspiracy. Suffolk County Court Judge Martin Efman released her with no bail.
Assistant District Attorney Nancy Clifford said police were justified in arresting her that night because she said she was the driver, but her office agreed to investigate further after her lawyer, John LoTurco, said he had real doubts she was the driver. "Our investigation has fully corroborated her story," Clifford said. "She has shown the appropriate amount of remorse."
Still, Clifford said Anderson's initial lie wasted police resources and allowed Sajewski to be free for three months. "She regrets it tremendously," LoTurco said. "She was manipulated by her scoundrel of a boyfriend at the time."
Sajewski's attorney, Carl Benincasa of Huntington, declined to respond. "We're not going to engage in this kind of name calling," he said.
Clifford said the DWI charge against Anderson will be dropped Friday.
Anderson was arrested after a red Mercedes-Benz convertible owned by Sajewski's parents blew through a stop sign and blasted all the way through a home on Southdown Road, narrowly missing the sisters who lived there, Helen Indiere, 96, and Virginia Bennert, 94. A breath test found Anderson's blood-alcohol content was .30 percent, almost four times the legal limit of .08 percent.
Anderson said she is now trying to right herself. "I am now in counseling to deal with my alcohol issues, found new employment and moved back under the supportive care of my parents," she said.