Jeffrey VanNostrand avoids state prison, but judge insists on incarceration
ALBION – A man who was called a model employee for the Village of Albion as a motor equipment operator was sentenced to two years in the county jail after a hit-and-run accident last August.
Jeffrey P. VanNostrand
Jeffrey P. VanNostrand, 52, of Kent avoided going to state prison for reckless endangerment in the first degree and driving while intoxicated.
However, the judge, Sara Sheldon from Niagara County, said VanNostrand has to do straight time in the county jail, and not weekends as suggested by VanNostrand’s attorney, Nathan Pace.
Sheldon presided over the case after James Punch recused himself. Punch was the district attorney in 1989 when VanNostrand was charged in a similar case of being intoxicated, hitting a girl with his vehicle and leaving the scene.
VanNostrand had been out drinking on Aug. 16, District Attorney Joe Cardone said. VanNostrand struck a child on a bicycle at 8:47 p.m. on Baker Road. The girl was injured and transported to Strong Memorial by Mercy Flight.
The girl doesn’t have serious injuries, but is returning to the hospital for additional tests next week.
“It’s hard to understand why he would put himself in this situation where he could have killed or seriously injured the victim,” Cardone said at sentencing this morning.
Pace was VanNostrand’s neighbor for 10 years. They are friends and Pace said VanNostrand is a hard-working person who cares for his family and community.
“I’ve witnessed him trying to lead an exemplary life,” Pace said. “For 27 years he has led a hard-working blue-collar life.”
Pace said VanNostrand didn’t realize he hit the girl until the following morning, and then turned himself in after seeing the media reports.
File photo: A girl injured in a hit-and-run last Aug. 16 was taken by Mercy Flight helicopter to Strong Memorial Hospital.
Cardone said he believes VanNostrand was aware he hit the girl that night, but went home to sleep off the intoxication.
Pace said VanNostrand has been praying daily for the girl’s recovery, and he hasn’t touched alcohol in over nine months.
“He has shown absolute remorse,” Pace said. “There’s deep feelings of sorrow for that family and that girl.”
Pace also presented letters of recommendation from the DWP superintendent, who praised VanNostrand for being a dependable worker and talented heavy equipment operator.
Pace asked that VanNostrand be sentenced to weekends in jail, for up to six years, so he could keep his job. But with a straight time sentence, Pace said VanNostrand would lose his position with the village.
The judge said she couldn’t agree to a weekend sentence because that it was the second time VanNostrand had committed such a serious crime.
“I think you’re a good man,” the judge told VanNostrand. “I think you’re genuinely remorseful. But the sticking point for me is you didn’t learn your lesson the first time.”
VanNostrand apologized in court to the girl and her family.
“I’m sorry things happened this way,” he said. “I’m trying my hardest to make myself better.”
The judge considered a 1 to 3 year sentence in state prison, but after conferring with the district attorney and Pace, opted for two years in the county jail, with a year each for DWI and leaving the scene of an accident.
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