New York: Matthew Ruckdaschel given light sentence by Judge Michael F. Pietruszka for killing two in DWI crash

Matthew Ruckdaschel


BUFFALO, N.Y. – A Getzville man will serve 3 1/2 to 10 1/2 years in jail after admitting he was drunk, speeding and driving the wrong way on the Kensington Expressway when he crashed his pickup into an SUV and caused the death of its two occupants.

Matthew Ruckdaschel, still in a wheelchair from injuries he suffered in the accident,  was sentenced in Erie County Court on Monday morning. He faced 25 years in prison.

Ruckdaschel pleaded guilty in April to aggravated vehicular homicide following a January 2011 crash that killed a pair of cousins: 37-year-old Orlando Anderson, a rental agent and father of three from Buffalo, and 42-year-old carpenter Thomas Johnson, a father of five from Cleveland, Ohio.

Prosecutors say he was driving 78 mph and impaired by marijuana and alcohol at the time of the crash.

Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom during sentencing but Two On Your Side’s Pete Gallivan was there to observe the proceedings. The family members of the victims were extremely emotional and upset with the sentencing, according to Gallivan. Family members feel the sentencing is too light.

From Buffalo News
Family members of two motorists who were killed by a drunken, wrong-way driver reacted angrily and tearfully today when an Erie County judge refused their request to sentence the convicted driver to the maximum prison term.
Erie County Judge Michael F. Pietruszka sentenced Matthew Ruckdaschel to 3 1/2 to 10 1/2 years in prison.
As the first person to be convicted in Erie County of aggravated vehicular homicide, Ruckdaschel had faced a harsher sentence than earlier drunken drivers who left carnage in their wakes.
Ruckdaschel, 26, of Getzville, had faced a minimum prison sentence of one to three years and a maximum term of 8 to 25 years after pleading guilty in April to killing two men when he drove the wrong way on the inbound Kensington Expressway.
Last month, Anthony Thompson, the first person to be sentenced in Erie County for aggravated vehicular homicide, was sentenced by a different judge to five to 15 years in prison for his aggravated vehicular homicide conviction for a crash last year that killed one of his passengers, severely and permanently injured an off-duty Buffalo police officer, and injured
two others. …..MORE

Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III announced that 24 year old Matthew Ruckdaschel of 20 Londonderry Lane, Getzville pleaded guilty, as charged, this morning, before Erie  County Court Judge Michael Pietruszka to Aggravated Vehicular Homicide.  This is the highest count of the indictment and the highest charge for which the defendant could have been convicted had he gone to trial.   District Attorney Sedita  praised the efforts of Assistant District Attorney Kelley A. Omel, Chief of his Vehicular Crimes Bureau, for successfully prosecuting the case and obtaining Erie County’s first conviction for Aggravated Vehicular Homicide since the statute was enacted in 2009. 

Ruckdaschel admitted that on January 22, 2011, while intoxicated (his blood alcohol content was above .18%) and impaired by the combined influence of drugs and alcohol, he operated a motor vehicle recklessly (driving the wrong way and speeding) on the Kensington Expressway.   As a result of such conduct, Ruckdaschel caused the death of 37-year-old Orlando Anderson of Buffalo and 42-year-old Thomas Johnson of Cleveland, Ohio.

Ruckdaschel faces a maximum prison sentence of 8-1/3 – 25 years when he is sentenced on August 13, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. before the Hon. Michael Pietruszka.   


Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III announced that an Erie County Grand Jury has indicted 43-year-old Antoinette Short of 84 Bellevue Avenue, Depew for Feloniously Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated, Feloniously Driving While Intoxicated, Circumvention of Ignition Interlock Device, Failure to Drive on Right Side of Road and Possession of Alcohol in Vehicle. 

It is alleged that on May 27, 2012, on Route 219 in the Town of Orchard Park, Short operated a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.34%.  As alleged in Special Information, Short was convicted ten days earlier for Driving While Intoxicated and was court-ordered to install an ignition interlock device on her vehicle.  At the time of the May 27, 2012 arrest, Short operated her motor vehicle without the ignition interlock device and with an open container of vodka in the vehicle. 

If convicted of these crimes Short faces a maximum prison sentence of 4 years.  Arraignment is scheduled for July 27, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. before Hon. Thomas P. Franczyk, J.C.C.