Guilty plea

Joseph Macri, 75

Joseph Macri, 75, pleaded guilty to first-degree reckless endangerment, a class D felony, for attempting to drown his wife of 54 years in a pond.

Macri admitted he dragged his wife into a pond on their Taghkanic property, 189 Sopak Road, July 3 in attempt to drown her, knowing she had Alzheimer’s disease. He made an emotional statement to the virtual court apologizing for his actions.

Macri received a plea deal of five years probation with an order of protection that prevents him from being alone with his wife, Francine Macri, until Jan. 6, 2034, Judge Richard Koweek said at the virtual proceeding Friday. He may see her at her place of residence while accompanied by one or more of her family or friends or a residential staff member. He also cannot temporarily take her out of her residence unless accompanied, for example taking her out to dinner if the opportunity arises.

Joseph Macri has been receiving therapy at the Greene County Mental Health Center since August and will continue treatment, Macri’s attorney, Asaf Sarno, said.

Macri and Sarno sat side by side unmasked from the same location during the virtual Zoom conference Friday. Their connection broke up frequently, and they needed to repeat statements to Koweek throughout the proceeding.

In an emotional statement to the virtual court, Macri was remorseful for the incident. He expressed his love for his wife, apologized to his sons and grandchildren, and thanked Koweek, Sarno and prosecutor Danielle Neroni.

Sarno comforted Macri by putting his hand on his back and shoulder and handing him tissues.

“I didn’t expect at my age that I would have to do this,” Macri said as he began to cry. “I am sorry and I’m trying to make this statement as best as I can, your honor. I wanted to say thank you for your compassion and your understanding in this case, not only for me but for my wife. I love my wife, the woman that I married 54 years ago is the woman that she is today. She was the best mother of my children and she was the best wife for a man who would not ask for anything more. I love my wife forever.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and Francine Macri’s Alzheimer’s has caused pain for the couple, Macri said.

“In my right mind I would have never harmed my wife and I cannot believe what I did and I am very sorry,” he said. “I appreciate that you have given me an opportunity to pick up the broken pieces through the therapies that I’m going through and the support of my family. I want to thank Ms. Neroni and my lawyer, who worked together,” he said.

Sarno and his client had gone over the pros and cons of taking a plea deal or going to trial and Macri decided to go with the state’s offer of five-year probation with an order of protection, Sarno said.

Koweek asked how many times Sarno met with his client when asking Sarno and Macri a series of questions to ensure Macri was aware of his rights in the case.

“Probably too many times,” Sarno responded.

Sarno requested the conditions of Macri’s probation be revised so Macri can travel freely throughout the state to see family and friends without the authorization of his parole officer. Macri will not travel outside the state without permission from his parole officer or the court, Sarno said. Koweek consented to the revision.

The judge also issued a $375 surcharge to Macri.

After discussing with Macri privately on mute, Sarno told Koweek that Macri requested to be assigned to Mindy Miller, a Columbia County probation officer. Sarno knows they cannot choose Macri’s officer, he added.

Macri now lives with his son Anthony Macri in Gilboa in Schoharie County, Sarno said. Macri will be transferred to a probation officer there, Koweek said.

The incident took place on Macri’s Sopak Road property, where he resided at the time of the July 3 incident.

The Macri couple’s former neighbor, Johnny Cartularo, witnessed Joseph Macri pulling Francine Macri into a pond on their property, which he detailed in a Register-Star report dated Sept. 1.

Joseph Macri was putting his wife under the water as she called for help, Cartularo said in his account.

During the incident, Joseph Macri screamed, “We can’t live like this anymore,” and “This is not a life for us,” Cartularo said.

Cartularo said in September he had never seen anything like this from his neighbors before.

“They used to walk around like they were still in high school holding hands,” Cartularo said.

Joseph Macri was under considerable stress as the primary caretaker for his wife as she struggled with Alzheimer’s disease, Sarno said in August. Sarno characterized the summer incident as a call for help.

Joseph Macri was arrested, arraigned and charged with attempted second-degree murder, a class A-1 felony, on July 3. Macri should not have been taken to jail and instead given the help he needed, Sarno said.

Macri had no criminal record prior to the incident and was released July 20 on $100,000 bail, Sarno said.

The Macri family has operated Jo Jo’s Pizza in Ancram since 1994, according to the pizzeria’s Facebook page.

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