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Lawyer: Teen in Connetquot plot was 'impressionable'

A Commack teenager charged with helping her ex-boyfriend plot an attack on his former school went along with the plan because she was "impressionable," her attorney said Thursday.

Dana Saltzman, 16, went shopping for guns with Christopher Franko, 17, of Bohemia, as he plotted a Columbine-style attack on Connetquot High School, according to an indictment handed up by a Suffolk grand jury.

But her attorney, J. Ceasar Galarza of Massapequa Park, said Thursday after Saltzman's arraignment in Riverhead that the girl had only a minor role in the plot.

"She was just his girlfriend," Galarza said outside court. "She's a 16-year-old and she's very impressionable."

Saltzman pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree conspiracy before Judge Stephen Braslow and was released without bail. She is due back in court on July 28.

Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said Saltzman voluntarily removed herself from the Bellport BOCES program, where she and Franko met, after her arrest. She never was a Connetquot student, he said.

Kurtzrock said outside court that Saltzman gave a "detailed confession" to police, though he declined to say whether she was cooperating with prosecutors.

"She certainly isn't an equal participant" in the plot, Kurtzrock said. "She was certainly involved. However, I think she's in a very different place than Mr. Franko is."

Franko, who in 2007 pleaded guilty in a previous plot to attack the school, last week pleaded not guilty to second-degree conspiracy. He was ordered held without bail.

If convicted, Franko and Saltzman each could face 81/3 to 25 years in prison, unless they are eligible for youthful offender status, Kurtzrock said. If they are granted youthful offender status at their sentencings, Saltzman and Franko could serve 11/3 to 4 years behind bars, he said.

In an interview with Newsday after his arrest last month, Franko blamed Saltzman for his most recent legal problems, saying she called police because she was mad at him.

Galarza dismissed the accusation.

"I think he's delusional," he said. "I think his record speaks for itself."

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