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Berks businesses to pay much of $12.7 million settlement in DUI crash that killed 3 near Bethlehem

Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:19:51 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 07 2013 06:11:28 PM CST

A number of businesses in Berks County have agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement in a deadly drunk driving crash in Northampton County.

PHILADELPHIA -

A number of businesses in Berks County have agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement in a drunk driving crash that killed three people in Northampton County.

Anthony Bruno had a blood alcohol level of nearly three times the legal limit when he caused the crash, killing Chad Horne, Robin Villegas and Terri Buskirk in Bethlehem Township on Jan. 28, 2010, police said.

"He was remorseful, but that is the problem with alcohol. It kind of blurs your vision, so to speak, and this was avoidable. It is a shame he put himself in that position," said Kevin Marciano, the lead attorney on a $12.7 million settlement reached Monday.

Bruno was part of an earlier caravan, sponsored by Muhlenberg Twp., Berks Co.-based All-Star Distributing, that traveled to a Reading Royals hockey game at the Santander Arena. The caravan also stopped at a bar in Bethlehem and others in Kutztown. All of those parties were held liable in the settlement.

"We are definitely trying to send a message. That was part of the settlement," Marciano said. "We demanded that some of the bars pay and take money out of their own pocket."

Bruno admitted drinking more than 30 alcoholic drinks prior to the crash, according to court documents. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 7-and-a-half to 14 years in prison.

The settlement awards nearly $12.7 million to the victims' families, one of the largest such settlements in Pennsylvania, according to Marciano.

The breakdown, Marciano said, includes a $6 million payment from SMG, the company that manages the Santander Arena; $4.5 million from All-Star Distributing and Geiger Beverage; $1 million from Shorty's Bar in Kutztown; $500,000 from Roosevelt's Bar in Bethlehem; $500,000 from the Kutztown Pub in Kutztown; and $50,000 from Bruno.

The settlement also mandates that the last two bars Bruno visited also make a charitable contribution to drunk driving organizations.

"Roosevelt's and Shorty's are the last two places he was at. They would be probably the most responsible because he was the most drunk and the bartenders should have recognized," said Marciano.

The settlement also holds liable Bruno's friend, who was supposed to be his designated driver that night and left him at the last bar.