LIVINGSTON COUNTY – A Cattaraugus County man was put in a very tough spot in Livingston County court Thursday morning as he suddenly found himself facing one and a third years in state prison for persistent DWI and Unlicensed Operation, the latest of which was committed in Groveland in June 2014.
Donald Lippert, 54, closely held a white copy of the Holy Bible as he explained to the court that he was not aware that his sentence could be so harsh, and that the last potential sentence he had heard was six months in jail and five years’ probation.
“I thought the sentence was supposed to be six months with five years’ probation, that’s what I heard in October,” said Lippert, seemingly shocked by the harshness of the proposed sentence. “When I was presented with the one to three years, it kinda knocked my socks off. I’m 54 years old, I can’t afford to go to prison for three years.”
Judge Dennis Cohen agreed that six months’ jail and five years’ probation were indeed on the table in October, but now that the required pre-plea investigation and report was returned, and showed that Lippert had several convictions related to DWI and Aggravated Unlicensed Operation going back decades, and the latest of which was in 2009.
“The report was awful, just awful,” said Judge Cohen. “You have a very extensive record in areas of DWI convictions and violence convictions.”
Lippert weighed the options of taking this matter to trial and risking an even harsher sentence, or taking the plea deal and checking himself in to the Livingston County Jail that day. In the end he took the plea, admitted to the felony DWI charge, apologized for his actions, and was remanded to the Jail without bail, awaiting transport to a state correctional facility within two weeks.
“Do you want to sentence me right now?” Lippert flatly asked the court. “I do live on disability, so there are a couple of things I need to take care of first.”
Judge Cohen explained the harshness of the sentence while papers were signed and Lippert prepared to be remanded.
“The reason this is a state prison sentence is that people who drink and drive, and you’ve done this chronically, this is how people get killed in our county,” said Judge Cohen. “There are not a lot of murders, but people who drink and drive do kill people.”
PHOTO CAPTION: File image.
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