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Long IslandSuffolk

Man sentenced in Huntington drunken-driving house crash

Daniel Sajewski, 23, of Brooklyn, appeared in Suffolk

Daniel Sajewski, 23, of Brooklyn, appeared in Suffolk County Court and pleaded not guilty to an 11-count indictment charging him with driving drunk straight through the Huntington home of two elderly women -- only to claim his then-girlfriend was behind the wheel. Photo Credit: Handout, Steve Silverman

The Brooklyn man who admitted driving drunk through a Huntington house on Memorial Day and convincing his then-girlfriend to take the blame for him was sent to prison Tuesday.

Although Daniel Sajewski, 23, said nothing as Suffolk County Court Judge Martin Efman sentenced him to 1 1/2 to 3 years in prison, his attorney said afterward that Sophia Anderson actually was the driver.

"He wanted to take responsibility for her," said defense attorney William Keahon of Hauppauge, calling Sajewski a "great young man" who is "addressing the issues we all have as young men. Guys will be guys."

Sajewski pleaded guilty last month to driving while intoxicated, offering a false instrument for filing and reckless driving. He admitted in court that he crashed his parents' red Mercedes-Benz convertible through the home owned by sisters Helen Indiere, 96, and Virginia Bennert, 94.

He also admitted pressuring Anderson, 21, to claim responsibility for the crash, which took a tree from the front of the house and rammed it into the backyard.

Both Anderson's attorney and prosecutor Nancy Clifford disagreed with Keahon's claim that Anderson was driving.

"She was barely able to stand," Clifford said of Anderson, whose blood-alcohol content that night was 0.30 percent, almost four times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

In addition, Clifford said injuries from her seat belt indicated Anderson was in the passenger seat and Sajewski's DNA was found in a blood stain on the driver's air bag.

"Sophia didn't need to be protected by Daniel, but rather from Daniel," said her attorney, John LoTurco of Huntington. "If Daniel truly loved Sophia, he would never have manipulated her in her highly intoxicated and vulnerable condition to take the charge for him."

Indiere and Bennert came to court Tuesday to speak but went home when the case wasn't called until after lunch. Clifford said they moved back into their repaired house three weeks ago and are happy with the outcome.

Anderson plans to plead guilty Thursday to noncriminal charges to resolve her case, LoTurco said. She remains sober and is working as a waitress, he said.

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