SNOW HILL — A Seaford, Del. man, who pleaded guilty in March to first-degree assault and other charges following an incident last September when he struck two law enforcement officers in a drug deal gone bad, causing the officers to fire their service weapons at the vehicle, was sentenced last Friday to 15 years, with all but 10 suspended.
Last September, Antonio Ambrosino, 18, allegedly accelerated his vehicle toward and collided with an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer and a Worcester County Sheriff’s deputy during an apparent drug deal. The struck officers were forced to fire their service weapons at Ambrosino’s vehicle as it sped away following the collision. Ambrosino was ultimately taken into custody after jumping into the bay around 41st Street following a multi-agency pursuit.
Last November, a Worcester County grand jury indicted Ambrosino on 15 total counts including attempted first-degree murder of an Ocean City Police officer, first-degree assault on the same OCPD officer, first-degree assault on a Worcester County Sheriff’s deputy and a member of the Worcester County elite drug enforcement unit known as the Criminal Enforcement Team. Ambrosino was also indicted by the grand jury on various drug and weapons charges.
The first-degree murder charge was later dropped in a plea arrangement brokered by prosecutors from the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office. Instead, Ambrosino pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered.
Back in court last Friday, Ambrosino was sentenced to 15 years for the first-degree assault conviction with all but 10 years suspended. He was also sentenced to five years for the marijuana distribution count, all of which was suspended. He was placed on supervised probation for three years upon his release.
The investigation indicates just after 11 p.m. last Sept. 30, the Worcester County Sheriff’s deputy, working an assignment in Ocean City as part of the expanded police presence in the resort all weekend in anticipation of the arrival of thousands of vehicles related to the cancelled H2Oi car event in the resort, pulled into the parking lot of a shopping center between 33rd and 34th streets on the oceanside of Coastal Highway. According to police reports, the deputy observed a Chevrolet Malibu parked in the lot with two men inside. The deputy notified police communications he would be checking on the vehicle and an OCPD patrol unit with three officers responded to assist.
The investigation revealed the deputy and an OCPD officer approached the vehicle on opposite sides while two officers positioned themselves near the rear of the vehicle. As the deputy approached the vehicle, he observed the two suspects in the car weighing and bagging marijuana, according to police reports.
When the suspects saw the officers approaching, they immediately attempted to hide the marijuana in the car. The deputy gave commands to the suspects, but were ignored and the driver, later identified as Ambrosino, started the car and put it in reverse.
The driver quickly accelerated striking the deputy. After striking the deputy, Ambrosino put the car into drive and accelerated forward. He then steered the vehicle to the left and drove directly at the OCPD officer, striking him as well.
The force of the impact catapulted the officer over the hood and windshield and onto the roof of the vehicle. The driver continued to accelerate away and the officer was thrown onto the hood of a vehicle parked nearby.
The investigation indicates the OCPD officer who was struck fired at the driver after being hit and another OCPD officer fired at Ambrosino as his vehicle was striking his fellow officer. Neither suspect was hit by rounds fired by the officers.
After fleeing the parking lot, the suspect’s vehicle ended up at a dead end on 41st Street and the bay. Police took the passenger, Arkad Espinal, 20, of Reading, Pa., into custody in the vehicle. Ambrosino jumped in the bay but was later arrested about eight blocks north of that location.
A Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) officer on the shore used thermal and night vision equipment to locate Ambrosino about 400 feet from shore and directed a patrol boat to his location. Maryland State Police helicopter Trooper 4 also responded and shined a spotlight on the suspect in the water.
According to police reports, Ambrosino was walking in waist-deep water and officers urged him to stop and raise his hands. He shouted several times the water was cold and that he was going to die. He was eventually lifted into the patrol boat by his arms and taken into custody.
Espinal’s charges included possession with intent to distribute marijuana and psilocybin and transporting a gun replica. Espinal later pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and was sentenced to 45 days, all of which was suspended. He was also placed on probation for 18 months.