This story is one of two produced from News 8’s exclusive interview with Judge Leticia Astacio. The one below walks through her trip to Thailand that eventually led to Astacio’s imprisonment. A second piece, which will air on News 8 at 11 will have her answering many of the big questions being asked by the public.
Finding Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio in early May would have required heading into the mountains of Thailand, where she says she was living in austerity with monks.
She was far from her home where nearly everyone recognized her, and far from her legal troubles. Or so she thought.
“My family didn’t all think it was a great idea for me to jump up and go to Thailand,” Astacio said in an exclusive interview with News 8. “They’re like, ‘Are you having a mid-life crisis? Are you having a breakdown?’ I’m like ‘I’m fleeing a breakdown, I’m going to get away from here because I don’t want to have a breakdown. I want to have some peace’.”
Astacio was allowed to travel abroad, so she did, leaving at the start of May, just days after the Interlock Ignition Device, or IID, on her car registered a “bad blow.”
Someone, who you cannot see through the device’s camera, blew into the IID that prevents anyone who’s been drinking from driving her car.
It was put on after her DWI conviction the year before.
Whoever blew into it prompted a violation.
Astacio’s daughter told News 8 earlier this year it had been her friend.
Either way, Astacio said she went to Thailand unaware of the “bad blow” and maintains she received an important message from her attorney on May 27th.
“He said you have court on the 30th at noon and I was like ‘I’m in Thailand, I’m in Thailand and it’s a 26-hour flight and on top that, it’s already Saturday here and I don’t know if that’s possible’,” Astacio said.
Her attorney at the time, Ed Fiandach, claimed he had tried to reach her around two weeks beforehand, but was unsuccessful.
She missed the hearing and the test to determine if she had been drinking, called an EtG test.
Because of that, the judge sentenced her to 60 days in jail, 3 years of probation and 6 months with an ankle bracelet that monitors alcohol consumption.
“I came back for this so I thought it was a little bizarre,” Astacio says. “Obviously, I’m biased but it’s happening to me so it seems like a harsh sanction for not being able to get back in a 72-hour period.”
Astacio recently ordered her own EtG hair test.
It’s a test even she hadn’t heard of, but she says the fact that it came back negative proves she was not drinking before her missed hearing.
After being asking what point Astacio wants this test to drive home to the court, given that it does not negate the missed test and hearing, Astacio said, “There were things said at sentencing about potential alcohol consumption and I think that was the concern and I think that concern has been alleviated.”
She says the hair test also shows she wasn’t drinking when her ankle monitor picked up alcohol last month.
Astacio says the culprit was a foot peel treatment. Something she says even her probation officers didn’t know could give a false reading.
“We did an impromptu test in probation and they were like, ‘Don’t do this,’ and I was like, ‘OK, I won’t.’”
A judge is scheduled to consider Astacio’s explanation next month.
Meantime, Astacio says she will abide by the court orders during the appeals process and after, if necessary.
Asked where she hopes this case sits a year from now, Astacio replied, “I hope that it’s over. I hope that it’s not something that we talk about any way, that there’s no court appearances and we can move on.”
To hear more from Astacio, click here.