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Off-Duty CTA Driver Who Attacked Woman With Bat Gets 1½ Years Probation

 Dwayne Preston (left) hit Meagan Panici with a bat at Clark Street and Foster Avenue, authorities said.
Dwayne Preston (left) hit Meagan Panici with a bat at Clark Street and Foster Avenue, authorities said.
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Chicago Police Department; DNAinfo/Linze Rice

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — The off-duty CTA bus driver who attacked a woman with a baseball bat while on his way to work last year has been sentenced to probation.

Dwayne Preston, 46, pleaded guilty Tuesday to battery, court records show.

Judge Erica Reddick sentenced Preston to 1½ years probation and has ordered him to pay $500 in restitution.

RELATED: CTA Bus Driver Hit Woman With Bat In Traffic Dispute, Police Say

According to prosecutors, Preston was off duty and on his way to work when he poked and later hit a 29-year-old woman with a metal baseball bat after he claimed she cut him off in traffic about 7 p.m. on Feb. 23, 2016.

The victim, identified as Meagan Panici, was stopped at a red light near Clark Street and Foster Avenue when she heard honking, prosecutors said.

That's when Preston, who was dressed in his CTA uniform, got out of his car and began shoving a metal baseball bat through Panici's open driver's side window, authorities said.

Panici spit at Preston's chest, she said in an interview last year, and that's when Preston reportedly took a swing.

Panici suffered "extensive bruising" and internal bleeding on the back of her leg, prosecutors said, noting that "dozens of witnesses" watched the altercation unfold.

Preston initially was charged with battery, a misdemeanor, after his arrest. In May, prosecutors upgraded the charge to aggravated battery in a public place, a felony.

But on Tuesday, Reddick agreed to allow Preston to plead guilty to the reduced battery charge.

Preston has no other criminal history.

A CTA spokesman confirmed Preston is still employed by the CTA, but hasn't worked or been paid since the bat incident. In light of Preston's plea, the spokesman said, CTA will review the matter.