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NT Councilmember Addresses Allegations of Wrongdoing | News

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NT Councilmember Addresses Allegations of Wrongdoing

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. - The North Tonawanda council member who's daughter was given a rare DWI plea deal, spoke to the people she represents, Tuesday night at a regular council meeting.

Nancy Donovan, mother of 23-year-old Sara Donovan, spoke for just more than a minute about alleged involvement in a DWI plea deal.  The Donovan daughter was arrested July 9th for hitting two parked cars and driving while intoxicated.

Since then, Donovan retained Henry Wojtaszek, the former Niagara County Republican party chairman who asked the Republican Niagara County district attorney Michael Violante for Donovan's DWI charge to be lowered to two traffic violations.

Donovan's statement is as follows:

"I've prepared a statement in regards to recent events that I'm sure you've all read about.  Ummm, there's been much publicity lately in regards to the DWI arrest and subsequent plea of my daughter Sara in North Tonawanda.

At no time, did I contact or attempt to contact, any individual or agency in effect -- to intervene on my daughters' behalf.  Sara is an adult.  She supports herself financially and makes her own decisions.

Unfortunately, the decision to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car was an extremely bad one.  What I have done, is sat down with Sara, as a mother, to implore upon her the magnitude of her actions.  Regardless of how old my daughter is, I will always love her, I will always be her Mother and I will always try to guide to be the best person that she can be.

Moving forward, please know that this is a personal family matter which we have all learned a tremendous lesson from.  I would respectfully remind the medial here in the audience that there is tonight, business to conduct with the city of North Tonawanda.  Therefore, I will be addressing this matter any further.  Thank you very much for your consideration."

Donovan's statement comes just hours after City of North Tonawanda Police Chief Randy Szukala is investigating whether one of his lieutenants interfered with the D.W.I. case.

Over the weekend, it surfaced that North Tonawanda Police Lieutenant Nathan Achtziger, who was not the arresting officer, allegedly requested that Donovan be allowed to plead to a lesser charge. That's according to a letter to the D.A. written by Donovan's lawyer, Henry Wojtaszek.

Given the revelation, Chief Szukala said he has launched an internal investigation into whether Achtziger improperly interceded in the case.

REPORTER: From where you are right now in your investigation, does it look to you like your lieutenant did insert himself into this case in some fashion?

SZUKALA: I guess we can say he added his two cents at this point. Like I was saying, I don't know how strongly they took his opinion. Like I said, we don't hold any hammer over anybody to force them. You can say a lot of things, or the DA can just brush it off, or take it with some credibility and say, you know, maybe this would be the way to go, but there is nothing that would force them to take that plea.

REPORTER: Any indication as to why one of your lieutenants may have weighed in, perhaps, on her behalf?

POLICE CHIEF: Well, the same as me. I personally know her. He does also. He just happened to be in the office at the wrong time. I don't think he went down there specifically for this purpose. The Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Brenner, also helps instruct our breath test operators course. And they do have a lot of conversations regarding his teaching schedules and coming into instruct, so there is always interaction. Cops talk all of the time. We say a lot of things. You know, there is a lot of conversation that goes on in the room. You see her name on the list. Oh jeez, I know this one. There are a lot of things that are said. Cops are notorious for talking forever.

Both Wojtaszek and Violante insisted that nothing improper happened; however, Violante has refused to answer our questions about the case.

Chief Szukala said he us trying to determine whether Lt. Achtziger actually got involved in the case, or merely suggested the lesser plea in passing.

In either case, Szukala said it's possible the Achtziger acted improperly.  Szukala said he plans to finish his investigation, and make the results public, by week's end.

Click on the video link above to see Marissa Bailey's report.  Click on the second video link to see Nancy Donovan's full statement.


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