MP man sentenced 1.5 to 4.5 years in DWI death

The late Ian Dawson, who was killed on September 10, 2005, after Robert Polidore crashed his car. Polidore, convicted of drunk driving, was sentenced to 1.5 – 4.5 years in prison on Friday, May 16. - Photo courtesy of Nancy Dawson

The recent sentencing of drunk driver Robert Polidore has sent a message about the grave consequences of intoxication behind the wheel. 

The 20-year-old Morris Park resident will serve up to 4.5 years behind bars for actions leading to the death of his close friend Ian Dawson on September 10, 2005.   

Dawson, the then 19-year-old Pelham Parkway resident, was killed when the car he was riding in, a 1996 Chevy Lumina, driven by Polidore, spun out of control at Pelham Parkway and Shore Road.

Fellow passenger John Occhino, a Yonkers resident who owned the car, was paralyzed as a result of the crash.  Dawson and Occhino were not wearing safety belts.

Polidore, who admitted to consuming three beers that night, was wearing his seatbelt and was unharmed. 

Polidore eventually pled guilty to his role in the accident, leading to his recent sentencing at the new Bronx Hall of Justice on Friday, May 16. 

For the charge of manslaughter in the second degree, Polidore received 1.5 to 4.5 years.

Polidore was also convicted of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, criminally negligent homicide, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, vehicular assault, and assault in the second degree.

However, Polidore will likely only serve time for the highest of the charges, as the sentences will run concurrently.

"This defendant admitted that he was criminally liable on every count in the indictment,” district attorney spokesperson Steven Reed said.

Dawson’s mother also hoped for the maximum 12 years, despite hearing a heartfelt apology from the defendant. 

“Robert said he’s very sorry, but when you cut a life so short, sorry doesn’t cut it,” Dawson said.  “We expected a little more.”

His defense attorney, Howard Levine, believes Polidore has also suffered greatly, as a result of the accident. 

“Rob is a nice kid who is hardworking, engaged to be married, and it’s terrible that he will now have to go to jail,” he said.   “Out of all my clients, he’s a good kid, and its unfortunate that such a horrible thing happened.”

Levine feels that Polidore was a victim of circumstance, stating that Polidare, only 17 at the time, was the least inebriated of the three friends and that the group, as a whole, decided he should drive that night.

“As the judge said, he didn’t intend to hurt anyone,” Levine said.  “He’s depressed and sad because of what he did, and his best friend of six years is dead.” 

Describing their friendship since 1998, the defendant spoke at the hearing of his love for his dead friend before heading off to serve his sentence.

“Ian Dawson was like my brother and no man plans to hurt his brother,” Polidare said.  “The fact that one mistake ruined Ian’s life, breaks my heart.”

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