Price-of-Water-658x90.jpg

Actions

Did two Niagara County power brokers help "fix" a DWI in Lockport?

'Do you recognize my name?' lawyer asks deputy
Posted at 5:20 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 18:19:00-04

It's the kind of traffic stop that happens almost every night.

But this one was different.

It involved one of Niagara County's most politically connected families, and the efforts to make a suspected drunk driving offense disappear were caught on tape.

Police body camera footage obtained by the Niagara Gazette shows Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputy Timothy Caughel trying to make a routine arrest of the driver, Rachel Winter, last November in Lockport.

But Winter's father isn't just anyone -- he's Ron Winter, a confidential law clerk to State Supreme Court Justice Richard Kloch.

Winter tells the deputy: “Do you, do you recognize my name at all?”

The deputy responds, “No sir, I don't.”

“All right,” Winter says. “I used to be the chief homicide prosecutor for Niagara County. I worked in the DA's office for 18 years.”

“Is there...is there any way to not have this happen?,” Winter asks. “Is there anything we can do?”

The deputy says, “I've already called for her arrest, I've already called for a tow truck, our normal procedure. I read her Miranda and DWI.”

Winter says, “All right...so this, so this isn't going away, huh?”

The deputy tells Winter the best he can do is process her through the jail system as quickly as possible, but Winter persists.

“There's no way to turn this around, huh?” Winter asks. “There's nothing we can do?”

Again, the deputy plays it straight, but when he mentions his boss is Lt. Steve Broderick, the Winters recognize a connection.

Rachel Winter says, “Broderick...Dad!...You know Broderick.”

Ron Winter says, “Yeah, Steve Broderick.”

Broderick is the Lewiston Town Supervisor and also a sheriff’s deputy.

“Is it Ron Winter who her father is?” Broderick says of Winter. “Yeah, I know him very, very well.” 

Back at the station, when Winter is about to arrive, Broderick asks the deputy if he is open to reducing the DWI charge to reckless driving.

“You don't have a problem doing a reckless and letting her...?” Broderick asks.

The deputy says, “That's totally up to you.”

“But you have to be OK with it,” Broderick says.

In a brief phone interview with 7 Eyewitness News, Broderick would only say, "We used discretion that night, like we do in law enforcement all the time."

DWI charges were never filed that night against Rachel Winter. She was charged with DWI four months later -- charges that were eventually dropped.

The entire case is reportedly being reviewed by the state court system. Winter did not respond to a message left for comment.