It was way back in 1984 when Lawrence Konyves was convicted for his first DUI. But the Yardley, Penn., man, who was 16 at the time, was just getting started, receiving a dozen more DUI charges since then. Amazingly, Konyves managed to avoid any significant jail time. That was until Monday, when he was sentenced to 5 to 10 years in state prison for his 13th DUI.
Yet while Konyves is finally getting justice, an important question remains. How did he avoid state prison time for that long? Prosecutors say he did it by manipulating the system.
"If he was sentenced to jail time, as he was as the law mandates, he would manage to talk people into a house arrest situation which he served from home," said Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler. "Or a situation where he was in a halfway house."
According to court records, Konyves immediately checked himself into a halfway house for months at a time whenever he was arrested for DUI. When he went before a judge, they were often lenient toward him, putting his time in rehab toward his sentence so that he never spent any significant time behind bars.
In Pennsylvania, a DUI conviction carries a sentence of two and a half to five years. Heckler says judges are inclined to give the minimum when a defendant pleads guilty and shows they’re getting help, as Konyves did every time he was arrested.
"Somebody just didn’t pay enough attention to this guy and say, 'Wait a minute,'" said Heckler.
That finally changed on Monday, however, when a top prosecutor in Heckler’s office convinced a judge to give Konyves the harshest sentence. According to the Philly Burbs, the judge rejected Konyves' plea to be permitted to serve time partially in the county jail and partially in an in-patient treatment program. Instead, he sentenced him to at least five years in state prison.
Prior to his sentencing, many victims wondered whether Konyves had to kill someone before he spent time in state prison.
“Happily in this case, we got him a bit before that,” said Heckler.
NBC 10 Philadelphia’s Katy Zachry reached out to Konyves' attorney on Tuesday but never received a call back.