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Chronic DWI offender is going to prison

Man gets $5,690 fine, up to 13-year sentence; defense attorney cites ‘alcoholism run amok’

Updated: 09/01/07 10:58 AM

A Kenmore pizzeria owner who was arrested four times in less than five months this year on drunken driving charges was sentenced Friday to 4 1/3 to 13 years in prison and fined $5,690. William M. Collins, 38, conceded during the court proceeding that he has a problem with alcohol but pleaded for leniency with State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns.

Burns told Collins he was “a menace on the road” who had to be sent to prison to protect other motorists.

Collins has nine drunken-driving arrests since 1994 and four felony driving while intoxicated arrests this year. The last arrest occurred after he had been allowed to remain free on bail after pleading guilty in the first three, Burns said. He was sent to jail after the fourth arrest.

Collins, who lives on Grand Island, is the owner of Pizza Palace on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. The restaurant has been operated by his mother since his jailing.

Defense lawyer David Todaro told the judge Collins is “a hardworking guy” who has suffered from the disease of alcoholism throughout his life but has finally “accepted responsibility.” Todaro told the judge Collins is “a classic case of alcoholism run amok.”

Among Collins’ other driving while intoxicated arrests were cases in 1994 in Cheektowaga, 1997 in Kenmore and 2002 in the City of Tonawanda, prosecutor Peter M. Cosgrove said.

At about 3 a.m. Feb. 25, Collins was arrested for drunken driving on Love Road on Grand Island and was granted a temporary driver’s license good only to drive back and forth to his business, Cosgrove said.

Collins was arrested again for drunken driving about 1:30 a.m. March 24 on Military Road in the Town of Tonawanda, and 2 a.m. May 1 on Grand Island Boulevard, Grand Island. His driver’s license was suspended after those arrests, but he kept driving anyway, Cosgrove said.

Though he was allowed to remain free after pleading guilty before Burns in the three first DWI cases this year on June 8, Collins was stopped again for drunken driving about 3 a.m. July 15 on Kenmore Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda, Cosgrove said.

After being informed of the fourth DWI arrest, Burns revoked Collins’ bail and had him jailed, court officials said.