NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Residents who witnessed a DWI arrest in North Tonawanda want to know how the four-time convicted drunk driver was not sentenced to any prison time.
Sources in the legal community say that Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas has a reputation for being tough on drunk drivers. But a defense attorney was recently able to talk her out of sending one repeat offender to prison.
Mayne Marvin, 55, was arrested for a fourth DWI while on probation on Payne Avenue in North Tonawanda last summer. Some who live on Payne witnessed the arrest haven’t forgotten what they say that day.
Mary Sherman and Michael Bzezinski described what happened to their vehicles when Marvin’s vehicle hit theirs.
“We heard a big crash and we all ran outside,” Sherman said. “It hit so hard it pinged it like a tennis racket with a tennis ball.”
“Her car [Sherman's] was actually sent two houses down from the impact,” said Bzezinski.
Mayne Marvin was arrested with a blood alcohol content of .28, more than three times the legal limit.
“He couldn’t even stand up. He was holding onto his car to go around when the cops told him to get in and look for his license,” Sherman said.
Marvin was driving on a conditional license, on probation from his last DWI conviction in 2011. The three-time offender became a four-time offender when he pleaded guilty to the felony charge. But when it came to sentencing last week, Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas did not send him to prison.
Marvin works as an engineer for the defense contractor Moog at its Niagara Falls location. The company wrote a letter of support, which influenced Judge Farkas on her decision.
Marvin’s manager cited his 34 years of experience, writing, “Mayne has unique capabilities within the organization and is one of only a few individuals with expertise (in his particular responsibilities there.)”
So Judge Farkas cited special circumstance when she gave Marvin five years of probation. He’ll be on house arrest for the first year, only allowed to leave for work. His blood alcohol content will be monitored at all times through a bracelet for the next year. Any violation will send him straight to prison.
Those affected like Sherman and Bzezinski think the sentence was too lenient. “Could be worse than hitting two cars next time. Could be two people,” Bzezinski said.
The sentence wasn’t part of the plea. Judge Farkas made the decision at the hearing after defense attorney Jim Faso pleaded his case.
Faso wasn’t available for an interview Wednesday and prosecutor Ted Brenner declined to comment.