Attorney Debra A. Tuomey, in making her brother's filing, said the Florida Highway Patrol's investigation of the case was a "government sanctioned assassination against one individual." Her suit suggests that the police and prosecutor's office were driven by Belniak's history as a DUI driver and convicted drug dealer rather than the facts of the accident .
According to the Tampa Bay Times
, the lawsuit seeks to get the victims' relatives to pay Belniak, now 38, for his "pain and suffering ... mental anguish ... loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life" and the medical bills he got as a result of a crash he pleaded guilty to causing.
"This is ridiculous," Georgette DeFranco, 48, a relative of the victims, told the Times
. "You caused it. You accepted guilt. How can I or anybody in this family be responsible for your injuries?"
DeFranco, the Times
reported, lost her mother, Linda McWilliams, 66; her sister, Denise Bassi, 50; and her brother-in-law, Gerard Bassi, 51, in the crash. DeFranco's stepfather, Ray McWilliams, was injured but survived, but died last March at age 68 allegedly, in part, due to the after effects of the accident. The Bassi couple lived in Connecticut and were visiting Florida for the holidays.
Authorities said Belniak, at the time of the accident on Christmas day 2007, was driving between 75 and 85 mph when his pickup
smashed into the back of McWilliams' Chevrolet Tahoe
. The SUV
crumpled. Gerard Bassi died at the scene. Denise Bassi died in surgery that day. Linda McWilliams was taken off life support a week later. Authorities said Belniak had alcohol, Xanax and evidence of cocaine in his system.