DUI driver who killed Philly cop gets 10 to 20 years

John Leck of Levittown was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison Monday by a city judge for causing the crash that killed decorated Officer Brian J. Lorenzo. (File photo)
John Leck of Levittown was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison Monday by a city judge for causing the crash that killed decorated Officer Brian J. Lorenzo. (File photo)
Posted: December 04, 2013

PHILADELPHIA John Leck had no criminal record. Relatives, friends, and neighbors who knew him for decades said he was kind, considerate, and always there when needed.

But Leck spent the evening of July 8, 2012, drinking. The result - a horrific wrong-way crash on I-95 that killed Philadelphia Police Officer Brian Lorenzo - sent Leck to prison for the next 10 to 20 years.

"I'm not the monster I'm made out to be," Leck, 48, of Levittown, told Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina before sentencing Monday. "I don't have a hurtful bone in my body."

Still, Leck acknowledged, "I know I have to deal with the consequences." The crash killed Lorenzo, 48, the married father of three and a decorated 23-year officer who trained the department's motorcycle drill team.

Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Juliano Coelho sought a sentence of 15 to 30 years for Leck's October guilty plea to charges of third-degree murder, homicide by motor vehicle while driving intoxicated, and driving under the influence.

Coelho said Leck chose to drink to excess and then got behind the wheel of his Audi A6 sedan.

After the hearing, Coelho said Lorenzo's death would be felt by his family "for years to come. He just had a grandchild born two weeks ago that he's never met and who will never get to meet him.

"Leck's family will be able to visit him in prison and can also have some hope that at some point he's going to get out and live some type of life - whereas Officer Lorenzo will never come back," Coelho added.

Lorenzo's widow, Linda, made a victim-impact statement describing the painful loss of a life partner who had been her high school sweetheart.

Defense attorney Michael K. Parlow presented 10 character witnesses - including Leck's mother, two cousins, and an uncle, and childhood friends and neighbors who had known him 30 years. All said they never knew him to drink to excess.

"He made one tragic error to drink and drive," Parlow said. "If it can happen to John Leck, it can happen to anyone."

Sarmina's sentence was within the state guidelines and includes 10 years of reporting probation once Leck leaves prison.

The courtroom was packed to standing room with about 100 spectators, who included Lorenzo's family and friends, officers, and members of the highway patrol. Family members declined to comment as police escorted them from the Criminal Justice Center.

On July 8, 2012, Lorenzo had completed a late shift and was riding his motorcycle north on I-95 at 3:15 a.m. when he was hit head-on by Leck's car - which was headed south in the far left lane of the northbound highway at Cottman Avenue.

Coelho said the crash threw Lorenzo 21 feet. Leck's car pushed Lorenzo's motorcycle 130 feet.

Leck, a collections agent who was unmarried and had no children, had been drinking at a TGI Friday's restaurant in Bensalem for several hours, Coelho said. Forty-five minutes after the accident, she said, Leck's blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.218 - almost three times the legal threshold for drunken driving.

Lorenzo's family has a suit pending against Leck and the restaurant's parent company for continuing to serve him alcohol after he was visibly drunk.

TGI Fridays issued a statement Monday saying Leck had only been at the restaurant for two hours, and had left two hours before the accident. The statement said Leck must have had more to drink afterward to be that intoxicated at the time of the fatal crash.


jslobodzian@phillynews.com

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

www.inquirer.com/crimeandpunishment

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