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TAMMY SYTCH, BOYFRIEND SUED OVER FATALITY IN LAST MONTH'S FLORIDA TRAFFIC INCIDENT, LAWSUIT ALLEGES SYTCH WAS 'INTOXICATED' WHEN CRASH HAPPENED

By Mike Johnson on 2022-04-18 17:31:00

A civil lawsuit was filed against WWE Hall of Famer Tamara "Sunny" Sytch and her boyfriend James F. Pente on 4/12 before the Circuit Court of the Sevenths Judicial Circuit in and for Volusia County, Florida by the estate of Julian L. Lasseter, the man who was killed in the three car traffic incident on 3/25 in Ormond Beach, Florida.

The Ormond Beach Police Department's report on the 3/25 incident  stated that Sytch (who does not possess a valid driver's license) was driving southbound on U.S. 1 just north of Granada Boulevard and failed to stop at 8:28 PM EST.  The report cited that two different witnesses to the crash reported Sytch's car traveling at a "high rate of speed" before crashing into Lasseter’s stopped vehicle after Sytch failed to stop.  Lasseter then crashed into a third vehicle.  Lassetet passed away after being rushed to the hospital.  The driver and passengers of the third vehicle were not hospitalized but all complained of neck, back, side and head injuries.   

The lawsuit, seeking in "excess" of $30,000 in damages, states:

  • “Upon information and belief, on or about March 25, 2022, Defendant SYTCH was intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle owned by Defendant PENTE southbound on N. Yonge Street, at or near the intersection of W. Granada Boulevard in Ormond Beach, Volusia County, Florida. 
  • Defendant SYTCH operated the motor vehicle with the consent, either express or implied, of Defendant PENTE. 
  • On or about March 25, 2022, Julian L. Lasseter was also operating a motor vehicle southbound on N. Yonge Street, at or near the intersection of W. Granada Boulevard in Ormond Beach, Volusia County, Florida. 
  • At the time and place referenced in paragraphs 6 and 8 above, Defendant SYTCH negligently operated or maintained her motor vehicle so that it collided with the rear end of Julian L. Lasseter's motor vehicle, causing severe and incapacitating injuries to Mr. Lasseter. These injuries resulted in his death on March 25, 2022.”

The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of Sytch, that Pente is "vicariously liable" for Sytch's actions by virtue of allowing her behind the wheel of his vehicle, that the Lasseter family has sustained medical and funeral expenses due to Sytch's actions and that Lasseter's adult daughter has "has suffered, and will suffer into the future, the loss of her father's companionship, instruction, guidance, and mental pain and suffering as a result of her father's death."

Sytch and Pente have not yet responded to the lawsuit.  Court records do not reflect yet that either have been officially served.

Yesterday, Sytch, who has not publicly acknowledged the incident took place, took to Facebook to write, "Have a safe and happy Easter."

Sytch has not been arrested in relation with the crash but was named in The Ormond Beach Police Department's press release on the incident.  Authorities have been waiting the return of Sytch's toxicology tests after a search warrant was executed to draw her blood while she was hospitalized.  Reports Sytch was arrested that day or shortly after are incorrect.  She has not (yet) been arrested in relation to the incident.

An online obituary has been published for Lasseter, a 75-year old grandfather and former teacher.

Those inside the third car involved in the incident did not need to be hospitalized but complained of pain to their head, backs, necks and sides, according to the police report.

The incident led to Sytch pulling out of her scheduled appearances Wrestlemania 38 weekend, where she was to be among the talents coming in to sign at Wrestlecon.

The crash that led to Lasseter's passing was the latest incident involving Sytch, who was arrested most recently on 2/24, charged with eleven different charges, including Operating under the influence of liquor or drug, Driving after Driver’s License/Registration suspended/revoked, Careless Driving - likely to endanger person or property, Reckless Driving, Failure to wear seat equipment - responsibility of driver, Driving without a license, Failure to possess a driver's license, Failure to possess driving registration, Failure to possess an insurance card, Failure to install interlock or drive a car without an interlock, and Operating a motor vehicle during a license suspension - second violation.  Sytch has plead not guilty to all of these charges and has a court hearing at Keansburg Municipal Court in New Jersey on the morning of 5/26.

Sytch had been previously arrested on 1/13 for allegedly threatening to kill an "intimate partner" while raising a pair of scissors "in the air towards the victim" during a domestic dispute.   The police report for Sytch's January arrest stated that she did this in clear view of a police officer who witnessed the incident.  The arrest report also stated that Sytch "appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol" during the altercation.  Her "intimate partner" was not injured.  In that incident, Sytch was charged with two charges of illegally possessing a weapon (the scissors) and one charge of terroristic threats, listed as "occurring during a state of emergency."  She was released from Monmouth County Correctional on 1/14 after a hearing where she was ordered to have weekly check-ins with the court and that she not possess any weapons.  That case is still pending.

Sytch comment on her January arrest via her Facebook page, writing, "I am ok.  I am laying low for a bit.  But I'm m ok.  Don't believe the media.  Please don't."  She later made the comment private or deleted it.

The January arrest was preceded by additional issues in December 2021 in Florida, where Sytch was on vacation to celebrate her 49th birthday, according to postings on her Facebook page.  After online records indicated she had been arrested in the Sunshine State, Daytona Beach Police confirmed to PWInsider.com at the time that their officers indeed had several contacts with Sytch on Saturday 12/18/21, the first being a call related to an alleged domestic violence incident and the second being a check into her well being.   Neither contact resulted in an arrest, but Volusia County Corrections in Florida did, at one point, list Sytch as being booked into their facility on Saturday 12/18 at 11:14 PM Eastern and then being released the following day, Sunday 2/19 at 3:45 PM Eastern.   However, the Daytona Beach Police Department stated to PWInsider.com that Sytch was never, ever arrested and that they have no arrest report in their records related to either of the aforementioned contacts.  Within a week of returning to New Jersey in January, Sytch was arrested on 1/13.

The 2022 incidents and arrests have continued a pattern of legal issues for Sytch stemming from numerous arrests over the last decade across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Sytch’s legal issues in Pennsylvania stemmed from four different arrests between 2015 and 2016:

*On 5/30/15, Sytch was stopped by Mahoning Township, PA police after being seen driving erratically into a Wal-Mart parking lot. Testing showed she had a 0.25 percent Blood-Alcohol level at the time of her arrest.

*On 6/1/15, Sytch was pulled over after her car crossed the solid center yellow line several times, then entered oncoming traffic on Interchange Road in Lehighton, PA.  Sytch was unable to provide proof of insurance or a driver’s license and was identified only after authorities checked records.  Trooper Jonathan Lazarchick of the Pennsylvania State Police reported that her eyes were bloodshot and glassy and that Sytch smelled like alcohol.  Authorities discovered an open bottle of Coors Light in the passenger side of the vehicle as well as another eleven unopened.  The open cap of the Coors Light was on the floor of her passenger's side.  Sytch claimed she had been drinking the night before, was driving to pick up milk and eggs and when asked to get out of the vehicle, staggered, had problems with her balance and needed to lean on her car to maintain her balance. Her blood-alcohol content was 0.3 percent.

*On 6/20/15, Sytch crashed her car into a ditch in Towamensing Township at 10:40 PM, claiming to the responding authorities that her GPS had told her to make a "sudden turn", which caused her to turn wide and end up in the ditch.  Sytch told authorities that she was unable to back the car back out.   Cpl. Shawn Noonan of the Pennsylvania State Police observed the odor of alcohol and bloodshot eyes.  He requested Sytch take a field sobriety test, but she claimed to be "in too much pain due to her recently blacking out and falling down the steps."  She was placed under arrest for DUI and was given a breathalyzer test back at police barracks.   The results of that test were 0.078 percent. 

Sytch would later claim on social media, in response to PWInsider.com's reporting of 6/20/15 arrest, that she was not arrested for DUI when she crashed her car because she had a "seizure."  However, Sytch pleaded guilty to DUI in all three cases, as well as one count of driving without a license.  The court dismissed the lesser charges in each case as part of the guilty plea.  

During a July 2016 interview with Bill Apter, Sytch stated that she agreed to the guilty plea because she was "blackout drunk" during what she termed the worst relapse of her life.  Sytch told Apter she legitimately could not remember anything from the Pennsylvania arrests.   Since she could not testify in court about what happened and knowing the police had video footage of her in an inebriated state, Sytch stated a decision was made to plead guilty as part of an agreement.  In the interview with Apter, Sytch had praised Carbon County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania Judge Joseph T. Matika for being so lenient with her and allowing her to do the time in rehab as opposed to potential jail time.

On 8/18/16, Judge Matika sentenced Sytch to 97 days in prison, giving her credit for 95 days spent in rehab.  The final 60 days were paid for by World Wrestling Entertainment, who had reversed a previous stance that cut her off from assistance via their Wellness Policy after Sytch criticized the choice of rehab facilities WWE had chosen to send her, on their dime, in a DVD interview.  Sytch was also given two days' credit for two days spent in jail.

At the time, Sytch was also sentenced to five years of probation, including a required bi-weekly alcohol testing, 125 hours of community service and $2,100 in fines.  Sytch was released without spending a day in prison but was warned by Judge Matika that if she got into trouble at any point during her five-year probation, there would be consequences.  

Just 18 days into that five year probationary period, Sytch was arrested in Northampton County, PA.  In that case, she plead guilty to driving without a license, driving an unregistered vehicle, operating a vehicle without required financial responsibility (no insurance), displaying plate card in improper vehicle (license plates placed on a car to which they didn't belong), operating a vehicle without valid inspection, and driving without Evidence of an Emission Inspection, which is required in State of PA.   Sytch was also fined $1,496.45 as part of an agreement that saw Prosecutors drop the most severe charge against her, receiving stolen property.  Prosecutors in that case also opted to drop a charge of fraudulent use or removal of registered licensed plates as part of the agreement.

Sytch was rushed from her then-home in Palmerton, PA to Palmerton Hospital on 9/12/16.  That day, she was charged with possession of alcohol as well as being under the influence of alcohol - both of which violated the zero tolerance of her probation. 

On her Facebook page at the time, Sytch referred to her hospitalization as being related to her pancreas.   In Sytch's autobiography A Star Shattered, which was released in February 2016, Sytch wrote that past health issues involving pancreatitis were brought on by her heavy drinking and nearly led to her death in a previous incident.  In the book, Sytch wrote that she had been warned by doctors that if she did not stop, it would lead to her death.

Sytch announced via social media that she had been released from the hospital on 9/20/16.   Police sources in Palmerton, PA later confirmed to PWInsider.com that just three days later, 9/23/16, Sytch was once again transported to Palmerton Hospital after authorities were called to her home.   Court records cite that on that date, Sytch was again charged with being under influence of alcohol, a third violation of the zero-tolerance policy of her probation August 2016 probation.    Shortly thereafter, Sytch was taken into custody (apparently from the hospital) and incarcerated at Carbon County Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania. 

It was less than six weeks after her five-year probation began.

Sytch remained incarcerated for five months before being paroled in February 2017 after she agreeing to, once again, attend a WWE-financed rehab.  Upon her release, Sytch was ordered to directly report to an in-patient drug rehab located in Hanover, PA, to successfully complete the program and then complete any after-care recommendations.    Sytch was also ordered to report to the Carbon County Probation Office upon completion of the program and to perform an additional 75 hours of community service.  At this point, she was now ordered to perform a total of 200 hours of community service.

According to court records, Sytch was informed at the time of her February 2017 parole that the court would have a "zero-tolerance" threshold for the possession, control and consumption of alcoholic beverages and/or non-prescribed medication and as well as "zero-tolerance" for any missed urine screens without a legitimate excuse.   Sytch was also warned that a failure to adhere to the Judge's order would result in a petition to revoke her parole.   

It appeared to be the beginning of the end of this chapter of Sytch's life. 

It wasn't.  

Just a little over six months later on 8/22/17, a petition was filed requesting that Judge Matika revoke Sytch's parole.  He did.  A bench warrant for Sytch's arrest was issued the following day, but officials had been unable to serve the warrant and apprehend Sytch as she was no longer in Pennsylvania.  

Instead, Sytch was now residing in New Jersey, where the arrests continued.

Sytch was charged with DUI on 1/23/18 at 8:53 PM.  She was later charged with DUI and Leaving the Scene of an Accident following a 2/2/18 incident where she was in a car accident at 8:52 AM, allegedly fleeing the scene of the accident.  When she failed to appear in court to regarding those two DUI arrests, she was arrested in New Jersey again and charged with multiple charges of Contempt - Disobedience/resistance.

While she was being processed for those charged, New Jersey authorities learned that Sytch was a fugitive from justice due to the bench warrant out of her arrest in Pennsylvania stemming from her February 2017 parole being revoked.   At the same time, Sytch had been making independent bookings and autograph signing appearances all over the United States prior, including, incredibly a signing in Philadelphia, PA in January 2018, just a 90 minute drive from Carbon County, where a warrant was out for her arrest.

Sytch was transported back to Carbon County Correctional Facility.  In March 2018, an order was issued by Judge Matika to remove Sytch from Pennsylvania's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, a pre-trial diversion program for individuals with limited or no prior criminal record who are carefully screened by District Attorney's office for admission.  This was a program designed to be rehabilitative, as opposed to punishing, in its focus towards defendants.

Sytch remained incarcerated at Carbon County until 10/09/18, where she was again released under probation and agreed to the terms of a payment plan towards financial restitution to the State.

Sytch returned to New Jersey, but just a little over four months later, was again arrested.   On Saturday 2/23/19, Sytch was pulled over at 6:30 PM on Dupont Avenue in Seaside Heights.  In that incident, Sytch was arrested for driving while intoxicated, the sixth known time since 2015 Sytch had been arrested for such an offense.  That evening, Sytch was also given a summons for having an open alcohol container in a motor vehicle, for consumption of alcohol in a Motor Vehicle, reckless driving, failure to stop at a stop sign, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, driving with a suspended driver’s license, and careless driving.

Sytch was released by the Seaside Heights Police Department, but was then immediately placed into the custody of the Holmdel Police Department as she now had outstanding warrants and fines in the jurisdictions of the Holmdel, NJ Police Department  ($1,500) and Knowlton, NJ Police Department ($1,000) stemming from her January and February 2018 arrests in the Garden State.  Sytch was now charged with Contempt of court - Disobedience/Resistance of Court Command in relation to each of those warrants.  

Sytch remained incarcerated in Monmouth County Correctional Facility in Freehold, NJ until being transferred back to Pennsylvania on 3/20/19.  This would make the second time in as many years that Sytch was extradited from New Jersey's Monmouth County to Pennsylvania's Carbon Count because Sytch had violated her parole.     

Court records indicated that Sytch had missed a scheduled drug test on 2/11/19 and failed to report as directed to her parole officer.  She had also failed to maintain a stable residence or report her whereabouts.   This triggered a bench warrant for her arrest in Pennsylvania on 2/15/29.  That same day, the Carbon County Probation Department filed a motion to revoke her October 2018 parole, so when she was arrested in New Jersey, she was handed back over to PA, where she remained until she was granted parole again on 2/21/20.

Five months later in New Jersey, Sytch was arrested on the morning of 7/13/20, charged with Operating a Motor Vehicle during a second license suspension, Eluding a Police Officer, and Contempt/Violation of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.   That arrest immediately triggered, yet again, the State of Pennsylvania seeking to revoke her parole.  PA court records indicated that until her 7/13/20 arrest, Sytch had been adhering to her parole requirements, including monthly payments of financial restitution.

With Sytch incarcerated and facing charges in Monmouth County Correctional, Pennsylvania did not move to extradite her for a third time.  Instead, they rescinded the bench warrant on 5/14/21.  Sytch was released on 6/9/21 from Monmouth County, stating the same month that she had resolved all of her legal matters in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  

Sytch's PA case is currently listed as closed.  However, court records in Pennsylvania also indicate that Sytch and her attorney, Brian Gazio, were informed on 2/10 that Sytch was 1,050 days overdue on making payments towards her court costs.  Court records indicate Sytch currently owes $$4,200.68 (and counting) to Carbon County, PA with the last payment of $120 paid back on 6/15/20, the month before her July 2020 arrest in New Jersey.  

Sytch has been through several personal and legal issues over the last decade, including a period in 2012 and 2013 where she was arrested five times over the span of a month after she violated an order of protection taken out by a former boyfriend in Connecticut on three separate occasions.  Sytch was also charged with disorderly conduct, third degree burglary, and three counts of violating a protective order.   In that case, Sytch served 114 days in jail before being released, at which point she moved to Pennsylvania.

Sytch was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011 and is considered the original "WWE Diva."  She first broke into the business in Smoky Mountain Wrestling in the early 1990s before being signed to WWF as an announcer and later a manager.  She left WWF in 1999 to work for the original ECW and had a run in World Championship Wrestling as well.  At one point, Sytch was the hottest female talent in professional wrestling and was the most downloaded celebrity on AOL back in 1997.  

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