ALBANY - Assemblyman Brian Kolb allegedly told a tow-truck driver that his wife was to blame when his state-owned vehicle was found in a ditch near his home on New Year's Eve, court papers Tuesday showed.
The crash in Victor, Ontario County, led Kolb on Friday to resign from his position as Assembly minority leader, and the records showed the Republican from Ontario County had a .16% BAC on a Breathalyzer test — twice the legal threshold, police said.
When the tow-truck driver arrived at the scene at about 9:50 p.m., he said the man alongside the GMC Acadia was slurring his words and tried to pin it on his wife.
"The male stood up and put his hands up and said, 'My wife was driving!' He then said, 'You know how women drive.' I did not see anyone else around the vehicle," the tow-truck driver, Michael Scoville, said in a statement to an Ontario County deputy.
Scoville then called police because the vehicle hit a guard wire, making it a property-damage accident.
When an Ontario County deputy arrived, he observed the "vehicle made a left turn into a driveway and slid off the edge of the driveway down an embankment," the deposition from the deputy showed.
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The officer said Kolb had "glassy bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath" and was "unsteady on his feet."
Kolb, 67, told the officer he had four of five cocktails at the Erie Grill in Pittsford, Monroe County — which is about 15 miles from his home.
He then gave an "oral admission of operating the motor vehicle" and was taken to the Ontario County jail for a breath test.
Kolb is set for an arraignment Thursday at Victor Town Court in front of Penfield Town Court Judge James P. Mulley Jr., who is handling the case for the town.
Yates County DA Todd Casella named special prosecutor
Yates County District Attorney Todd Casella has been appointed as the special prosecutor to oversee the New Year’s Eve drunk driving case of N.Y. State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb. Kolb, 67, was arrested New Year’s Eve after a DWI accident near his home in Victor. Casella says Ontario County District Attorney Jim Ritts contacted him by phone New Year’s Day to ask if he would take on the case as a matter of professional courtesy before requesting his appointment in court.
Ritts said he was alerted to Kolb’s arrest at about 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day, and promised his office would ensure Kolb’s case would be handled impartially.
“I think it’s really important for the residents of Ontario County, as well as the assembly district, to be able to look at this and say this was treated appropriately,” he said. “We will have a special prosecutor and my anticipation is the courts will make sure there is a judge who is assigned to oversee this to make sure that everything is beyond reproach.”
Casella, who was elected Yates County’s District Attorney in 2017 after serving as an assistant district attorney in Steuben County, says this is a reciprocal arrangement often conducted between counties, which he has undertaken before. He will receive no compensation from Ontario County for taking on the case, but any costs incurred in the prosecution, such as lab tests or expert witnesses, will be paid by Ontario.
Casella, a Republican, said of Kolb’s case last week, “He is going to be treated just like anybody else would be under the same facts and circumstances,” adding that Kolb “will receive no undue prejudice or favoritism.”
Christopher Schiano, Kolb's attorney, declined comment Tuesday, saying he had yet to review the court filings.
Kolb admitted to the incident a day after the crash and apologized in a statement, saying he made "a terrible lapse in judgment, one I have urged others not to make, and I take full responsibility for it."
The arrest came just days after the Assembly minority leader wrote an op-ed in The Daily Messenger in Canandaigua urging New Yorkers to drive safely during the holidays and to not drive drunk — leading his arrest to become a national story.
On Friday evening, Kolb announced he would step down as leader but retain his seat in the Assembly.
The 42-member Assembly Republican conference was meeting Tuesday afternoon to pick his successor. Assemblyman Will Barclay of central New York is expected to win the conference's support.
“As leader of the Assembly Minority Conference, I have always tried to put the needs and best interests of our Conference ahead of my own," Kolb said the statement Friday.
"That is why I have decided to step down as Minority Leader."
Kolb said he would seek professional help "in order to heal, learn, and fully address the challenges that I, along with my family, currently face."