Danny E. Candales had racked up a string of domestic violence cases but was on track to receive a fully suspended prison sentence — until he led Stonington police on a pursuit on New Year’s Eve with a 9-year-old child in his dump truck, a judge said Wednesday.
“That’s when you crossed the line, in my mind,” Judge Kevin P. McMahon told Candales in New London Superior Court as he sentenced him to 2½ years in prison followed by five years of probation.
Candales, 42, of Lisbon had pleaded no contest to third-degree assault and five counts of violation of a protective order, all cases involving his ex-wife, Mandy Meyers. He was attending a 26-week domestic violence program while being monitored by the Department of Adult Probation and was scheduled for sentencing in January. Wednesday afternoon, he pleaded guilty to the additional charges of first-degree reckless endangerment and engaging police in a pursuit.
On Dec. 31, Stonington police said, Candales took off from police department headquarters with his girlfriend’s child in the car, leading police to Rhode Island and back. Prosecutor Mary Jean Kanabis said Candales was late to drop off his daughter to his ex-wife and that his girlfriend, who was in the truck with Candales and her daughter, told police Candales had struck her. Though an officer stood in front of the truck and motioned Candales to stop, he refused to stop, Kanabis said.
“There was still a 9-year-old girl in the defendant’s vehicle who indicated the defendant was driving fast and she was scared,” Kanabis said.
Stonington police said they pursued Candales through Pawcatuck and Westerly before Hopkinton police took over. Candales later crossed back into Connecticut on Route 49, and Hopkinton police broke off the chase. A bulletin was put out to local departments for Candales, who owns a landscaping and snow plowing business in Lisbon. Police eventually took him into custody in Richmond, R.I.
Candales posted bond following his arrest but was charged days later with criminal possession of a firearm and violation of a protective order and was held in lieu of $1 million bond after probation officers found a rifle in the attic during an unannounced visit to his home at 187 Rose Hill Road in Lisbon. Those charges are still pending in Superior Court in Norwich.
While on probation, Candales will be required to attend a 52-week domestic violence program. The judge ordered Candales to have no contact with his ex-wife and to abide by any civil court orders regarding contact with their 4-year-old daughter. McMahon also ordered Candales to have no contact with the girlfriend’s daughter.
Both the ex-wife and the girlfriend were in court but remained silent throughout the sentencing hearing. Speaking on behalf of the ex-wife, attorney Gregory P. Carnese said Meyers wanted Candales to serve a longer prison sentence and that from her standpoint, he “always seems to get another chance.”
“At this point in time, she wants to protect herself and her daughter,” Carnese said.
— Karen Florin