Saturday, July 11, 2015
DA: Dad of underage driver to plead guilty in Council Rock teens' deaths
Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2015
The New York father of the underage, unlicensed teen driver who was convicted in the deaths of three Northampton boys last year is expected to plead guilty next week for his alleged role in the fatal accident.
Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards on Tuesday declined to reveal the charges to which Michael Ware, 54, of Scarsdale, will plead guilty at his July 9 court appearance. He faces two felony counts of endangering the welfare of children, three counts of misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter, six counts of reckless endangerment, also a misdemeanor, as well as summary charges of giving false information and permitting an unlicensed driver to use his vehicle.
But information obtained by Calkins Media says that Ware will plead guilty to the involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangering charges. He faces a potential maximum of 21 years in prison.
Ware is accused of giving his then 15-year-old daughter, Julia Ware, permission to drive his 2001 Chevy Suburban twice on the morning of Aug. 30. On the second trip, Julia Ware picked up another 15-year-old friend and four boys — all incoming Council Rock sophomores. The boys were spending the Labor Day weekend at a family vacation home, which is around the corner from Ware’s vacation home in the Lake Wallenpaupack Estates resort.
The teens went to breakfast at a nearby barbecue restaurant and, on the return trip, Julia was speeding, failed to negotiate a turn, lost control of the vehicle and flipped it, according to court documents. Shamus Digney, Cullen Keffer and Ryan Lesher, all 15, were killed. A fourth boy, Ryan Keim, also 15, of Northampton, was injured, as was Julia Ware and a 15-year-old girl.
Michael Ware appeared at the accident scene on Goosepond Road shortly afterward and told Pennsylvania State Police that he was cleaning the house when his daughter took the SUV without his knowledge or permission, according to court documents. At first Julia and her friend backed up Michael Ware’s story, but both later recanted, the court documents show.
Julia Ware, of Pleasantville, New York, who turned 16 in December, was charged as a juvenile in connection with the accident. She was adjudicated in May after admitting responsibility in the deaths of the three boys. She was placed on “indefinite probation” and ordered to write letters of apology and a 2,000 word essay on how the accident has impacted her life and the lives of the victims’ families. She also was ordered to pay more than $40,000 in restitution and perform community service.
At her daughter’s court hearing, Julia’s mother, Britta Cleveland, and other family and friends described Michael Ware as a father who hasn’t been a financial or authoritative presence in his daughter’s life since the couple’s divorce, when Julia was 2 years old. He was described as the “fun parent.”
Ware, who remains free on $100,000 unsecured bail, was expected in a Wayne County courtroom Tuesday for a hearing on a motion his attorney filed requesting a judge to dismiss the most serious charges against him including involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of children. The hearing was canceled.