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Utica firefighter pleads guilty in December 2010 crash

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A Utica firefighter will spend the next six months in the Oneida County Jail after pleading guilty to vehicular assault in the second-degree and third-degree assault.

Travis Maurine is alleged to have moved his severely injured girlfriend at the time, Kate Rizzo, out of the passenger seat and into the driver's side of the vehicle following an a motor vehicle accident on Route 233 in Westmoreland in December 2010.

Maurine would have faced up to seven years in state prison if convicted of the most severe charge against him of assault in the second-degree.

However, that trial would have depended on a lot of hazy recollections from that December night two years ago, as well as an investigation originally pointed in the wrong direction allegedly by Maurine himself, whom prosecutors say told investigators on the scene that his passenger, Rizzo, was driving.

"Due to the fact that the police focused on Kate being the operator initially, the normal DWI investigation wasn't done with regards to Travis, so on that day, no field sobriety tests were done, no breath test was done and no blood was drawn in order to determine his blood alcohol content," said Prosecutor Stacey Paolozzi.

Prosecutors say Rizzo was not wearing her seat belt and therefore, catapulted about the car like a torpedo. They say she was found outside the driver's seat of the car, her feet still in the door well. It's their contention that Maurine dragged her out of the driver's side and placed her there. Witnesses from the same work party that the two were driving home from told police that they'd seen the couple at a stop light and that Rizzo was in the driver's seat.

Maurine will be sentenced on August 3 in Oneida County Court to six months in the Oneida County Jail, five years probation, ignition-interlock DWI precaution for his vehicle and one-year license suspension.

Prosecutors say the victims were in agreement with the disposition.

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