BUFFALO, N.Y. – Fired ESPN hockey analyst Matthew Barnaby’s drunken driving charge jeopardizes an agreement the former NHL player reached to avoid potential deportation following an arrest earlier this year.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita called Barnaby’s arrest this week “a serious matter,” and warned it could have consequences on the Canadian’s status in the United States because of his previous run-in with the law.
“If you allegedly commit another crime, you put your ACD in jeopardy,” Sedita said Tuesday. Sedita was referring to what’s called an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal deal Barnaby reached in July to have five misdemeanour charges dropped in connection to a domestic dispute with his estranged wife.
Sedita said it’s too early to determine whether he’ll seek to reinstate the charges in part because Barnaby has yet to appear in court on his DWI charge.
“It’s just way too early in the process for me to make any decisions yet,” Sedita said. “But it is a serious matter because depending on what decisions I make, that could have consequences to what he faces on the other side of downtown with federal authorities.”
Barnaby’s lawyer, Frank LoTempio, has not returned several messages left with him. Attempts to reach Barnaby were unsuccessful because his cellphone mailbox was full on Tuesday.
The 38-year-old from Ottawa was fired by ESPN on Monday, a day after being charged with drunken driving near his suburban Buffalo home. Erie County sheriffs arrested Barnaby after finding him behind the wheel of a Porsche Cayenne that had damage to its front end and causing sparks because it was missing its front tire.
Barnaby had his license revoked after failing field sobriety tests and refusing a breath test.
He’s scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 17, but it’s likely that date will be moved up.
Last summer, Barnaby avoided a potential deportation hearing by reaching a deal in which he was ordered to complete 500 hours of community service.
Barnaby was accused of damaging a car and causing about $300 damage by kicking a garage door in an attempt to enter a home where his wife and two children live in suburban Buffalo. He was barred from taking “offensive” action against his wife and to avoid contact with his wife’s boyfriend. He was also ordered to attend anger management counselling.
The misdemeanour charges of criminal mischief and aggravated harassment would be dropped after a year if he fulfilled the judge’s order.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Ross Feinstein said immigration officials have not had any contact with Barnaby, and noted it would be up to an immigration judge to revoke a person’s legal status or have them removed from the country.
Immigration rules outline crimes of domestic violence and aggravated felonies as potential grounds for deportation.
Barnaby broke into the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres during the 1992-93 season. He played for seven teams over 13-plus NHL seasons, earning a reputation as a pesky agitator during a career in which he finished with 113 goals and 300 points. He also had 2,562 penalty minutes in 834 games.
He retired in 2007 because of a concussion sustained during a fight. He joined ESPN as a studio analyst in 2008.
AP Writer Carolyn Thompson contributed to this report.