Women plead guilty to selling liquor to driver who killed 3
Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)
A woman who admitted giving alcohol to a 20-year-old man the night he drove drunk and ran over a family of three in Long Beach was banned from holding a liquor license or working in alcohol sales as part of a plea deal with prosecutors this week.
Amor Potestades Amacio, 60, of Norwalk pleaded guilty to furnishing alcohol to a minor and conspiracy to obstruct licensing provisions of the Alcoholic Bever
age Control Act on Wednesday in Long Beach Superior Court, City Prosecutor Douglas Haubert said in a statement.
Amacio’s daughter, Syntyche, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct licensing provisions of the Alcohol Beverage Control Act and was also banned from holding a liquor license or selling alcohol, prosecutors said.
Amor Amacio was sentenced to 364 days in custody, five years probation and 90 days of community service. Her daughter was sentenced to one-year probation and five days of community service, prosecutors said. Both women were ordered to pay $1,000 to a local charity selected by the Awaida family and Amor Amacio was ordered to submit proof of at least $1 million in civil liability insurance, which may be used for restitution to the victims.
They could face jail time if they violate the terms of the agreement while on probation, Haubert said Thursday; however, after five years, it would be up to ABC to continue enforcement.
The Amacios’ attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.
Syntyche Amacio was not present on Halloween night in 2019 when Amor Amacio gave Carlo Navarro, who was 20 years old at the time, a bottle of Jack Daniels at Green Diamond Liquor, prosecutors said, adding they did not have evidence she ever provided alcohol to minors.
Later that night, Navarro drove drunk, lost control of his SUV around Country Club Drive and Los Cerritos Park Place and fatally struck Joseph Awaida, 30, Raihan Dakhil Awaida, 32, and their 3-year-old son, Omar, as they walked home from a relative’s house after a night of trick-or-treating.
“This is one of the most tragic events to ever happen in Long Beach, and it was entirely preventable,” Haubert said in a statement. “There is nothing a misdemeanor case can do to bring justice to the Awaida family, but we hope this will help prevent a similar tragedy in the future.”
Family members of the Awaidas were surprised but pleased with the outcome.
“She’s been stopped,” Cecilia Ramos, Joseph Awaida’s aunt, said by phone Thursday. “She was the direct link in giving Navarro that bottle. We’re very pleased she won’t be able to do that ever again.
“If it weren’t for them crossing paths that night, Joey and his family would still be alive today,” she added.
The night of the crash, video showed Navarro and a friend enter Green Diamond Liquor in the 5300 block of Long Beach Boulevard. Amor Amacio agreed to give Navarro the $16 bottle of whiskey on credit, with the promise he would pay her $25 the following day, city prosecutors said.
Navarro would later tell police he took four to five shots before driving toward Los Cerritos Park to continue drinking with friends, according to evidence presented at his trial in late June and early July. As he drove toward the park, he was going nearly 70 mph when he lost control, went onto the sidewalk and slammed into the family.
Joseph Awaida died at the scene, while his wife and son died days later at a hospital. Navarro stayed at the scene and was arrested that night.
Navarro also told detectives he had purchased alcohol at Green Diamond Liquor too many times to remember, according to evidence at his trial.
On July 5, jurors convicted Navarro, now 23, of three counts of second-degree murder in their deaths. The jury found that he knew the dangers of drinking and driving before getting into his SUV that night.
Navarro is scheduled to be sentenced, Sept. 15, when he could face a maximum of 45 years to life in state prison.
While the liquor license for Green Diamond Liquor had been in Syntyche Amacio’s name, prosecutors said it was Amor Amacio who operated the business. She was arrested by police and ABC agents more than a month after the crash.
It wasn’t the first time Amor Amacio had been flagged by ABC. In 2012, while she owned Eddie’s Jr. Market Liquor one block south of Green Diamond, one of her employees sold alcohol to an underage person, which led Amacio to pay a $2,500 fine in lieu of a liquor license suspension, ABC spokesman John Carr has said.
But her license was suspended in 2018 after ABC learned she was the defendant in a $1 million welfare fraud case where she obtained CalFresh benefits through electronic transfers. She was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution, records show.
She was given 180 days to transfer the license to another person, but she did not meet the deadline, leading to a permanent revocation of her license, Carr said.