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Bus driver seeks lighter term in fatal Pennsylvania bus crash

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SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — A New York bus driver is seeking a lighter sentence in an interstate crash in northeastern Pennsylvania that killed a woman and injured several others 2 1/2 years ago.

The public defender representing 52-year-old Charles Dixon argued Monday that a Lackawanna County judge “essentially gave” his client the statutory maximum in sentencing him March 8 to nine years and nine months to 20 1/2 years, The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reported.

First Assistant Public Defender Joseph Kalinowski said during a brief virtual hearing that “with everything either maxing out or in the aggravated range” the court may not have fully considered his client’s “background and personal characteristics” and the circumstances of the case.

The Bronx resident acknowledged in December having used cocaine before his bus carrying 15 passengers crossed the median on Interstate 380 and crashed into trees in Covington Township in October 2018. Rebecca Blanco, 33, of Vacaville, California, was killed and other passengers were seriously injured.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Gallagher called the bulk of the sentence “fair and appropriate” and said a sentence in the standard range would be “a gross miscarriage of justice.” The judge noted, however, that prosecution and defense have agreed that a reduction of a few months of the sentence would be appropriate.

At his sentencing hearing last month, Dixon expressed remorse and acknowledged that his actions were selfish but said he is not a monster and asked for “abundant forgiveness.”

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