Parish president says he was not impaired

Larry Cochran mug
St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran, via Kenner Police Department

St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran claims he was not impaired when he was pulled over by police while driving in Kenner last month and that he has prescriptions for the drugs found in his system afterward, his attorney said Thursday.

The lawyer, Wiley Beevers, said that Cochran likely appeared unsteady during a field sobriety test at the time of his arrest because of a childhood surgery in which he had a benign tumor removed from his right ear. The surgery has affected his balance to this day, said Beevers, who provided a doctor’s note explaining the surgery.

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For weeks, Cochran has been under pressure from other parish officials to explain his arrest. He was pulled over the morning of Sept. 2, and while he had no detectable alcohol in his system he tested positive for a combination of prescription pain killers.

Beevers said Cochran is prepared to prove that he has valid prescriptions for both oxycodone and hydrocodone, drugs commonly sold as Oxycontin and Vicodin, although he did not provide the documentation Thursday. 

A third drug found in Cochran’s system, oxymorphone, is a byproduct of the oxycodone and not a separate drug, Beevers said.

He said Cochran has undergone a half-dozen recent medical procedures — including multiple surgeries — for problems with his hands, shoulder, back and urinary tract.

Cochran, nonetheless, had not taken either medication for several days before he was pulled over, Beevers said.

“Larry doesn’t deny he was operating the vehicle, but he denies he was operating it in a reckless manner,” Beevers said. “He was not impaired. Anybody who has a script can take medication as prescribed.”

Kenner police have said Cochran was pulled over about 12:30 a.m. after a witness called to report a Chevy Tahoe with a public license plate was “swerving all over the roadway” and even driving into the neutral ground on Joe Yenni Boulevard in north Kenner.

An officer pulled the vehicle over on Cabernet Drive, near the home of Cochran’s secretary. Police said Cochran performed poorly on a field sobriety test and that he displayed bloodshot, glossy eyes and slow speech.

According to police, Cochran also made strange comments, asking if there was anything officers could do for him and saying, “I guess this means I should fill out my resignation papers.”

Cochran showed a blood-alcohol content of .00 on what is commonly referred to as the Breathalyzer test; the legal limit is .08 percent. But police said he bit off the mouthpiece on the testing machine when he first tried to take it.

Suspecting he was impaired by drugs, they drew his blood and booked him on counts of driving under the influence and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

Cochran was released from jail shortly after his arrest because of overcrowding. Police publicly released the blood test results last week.

Beevers on Thursday hinted at other aspects of the defense he may present for Cochran if the case goes to trial.

He also said Cochran’s car was stopped on the side of the street when police initiated the traffic stop because the parish president was worried he was being followed.

“Police never saw him driving in a reckless manner,” Beevers said. “For a traffic stop, police must observe you breaking the law.”

At least one Parish Council member previously said he wanted Cochran to make a statement about the drugs found by the blood test.

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Wiley Beevers portrait
Wiley Beevers (courtesy of Wiley Beevers)

“I don’t know if it was just a one-time incident,” Councilman Paul Hogan said. “I don’t know if it is a recurring situation with him.”

But fellow Councilman Terrell Wilson said Cochran deserves the benefit of the doubt. “People ask me if he’s showing up at work,” Wilson said. “He’s at work, doing his job.”

Cochran was elected parish president in November 2015, succeeding V.J. St. Pierre. He had previously served as the Parish Council chairman.

A preliminary hearing in his case is scheduled for Dec. 4 at 1st Jefferson Parish Court in Metairie. Prosecutors had not filed charges against him as of Thursday.

Driver who’s called a ‘clear danger’ gets maximum prison sentence

Driver who’s called a ‘clear danger’ gets maximum prison sentenceBy Melinda Miller | Published October 26, 2017 | Updated October 26, 2017SHARE TWEET His second arrest for driving while high cost Maxamillion Hernandez dearly on Thursday when he was sentenced to 1 3/4 to four years in prison on his conviction for vehicular assault.On May 10, 2016, Hernandez, 22, drove his speeding car through a red light in the Town of Tonawanda when he was in a chase with another vehicle. His car T-boned a taxicab on River Road, seriously injuring a passenger and also harming the driver.He also told investigators he had smoked pot earlier in the day.While Hernandez was free and awaiting resolution of the felony charges against him in that case, he was arrested on Aug. 16, 2016, while driving on Route 400 in West Seneca, and charged with driving while impaired.“So,” Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio said to Hernandez on Thursday, “you have one case pending where people were seriously injured, and three months later you are arrested for the same thing again. “You drive when you are high a lot,” she said bluntly.Assistant District Attorney Christopher McCarthy said neither victim wanted to come to court to give a statement, but that they trusted the court to deliver a fair sentence. He also reminded the judge that one of the victims suffered a severe head injury and fractures to his leg and ribs, preventing him from working for some time.For the defense, attorney Sean Hill made a lengthy appeal for the judge to consider the “brief period of incarceration” recommended in a pre-sentencing report for Hernandez, possibly ordered him to spend weekends in jail so he could continue attending Erie Community College.He pointed out that video of the injury crash showed that Hernandez braked when he saw the other car, that he stayed at the scene and that he and his passenger tried to help the people in the taxicab.But Hernandez’s continued use of drugs, even after both arrests and counseling, was too much for the judge.“You’re just a clear danger and a threat to others on the road,” she said, before pronouncing the maximum sentence allowed for vehicular assault in the second degree, a Class E felony. A one-year sentence for his conviction for the second arrest will run concurrently.

Source: Driver who’s called a ‘clear danger’ gets maximum prison sentence – The Buffalo News

Driver revived for third time within a month with Narcan

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VINELAND – For a third time within a month, a city man was revived by Narcan after he was found unconscious behind the wheel.

Richard Flores Jr., 28, of the 500 block of South Eighth Street, was arrested around 5:30 p.m. Friday after police received a call about a unconscious male driver behind the wheel of a vehicle at Myrtle Street and Michigan Avenue.

A witness told officers that the driver might be overdosing, noting there was a hypodermic needle stuck in Flores’ arm.

Flores regained consciousness after Vineland EMS administered Narcan. He was taken to Inspira Medical Center Vineland for further medical evaluation.

According to police reports, Flores was involved in motor vehicle crashes on Sept. 22 and Oct. 8 where he also overdosed at the scene and needles and heroin were found in his possession.

Narcan has been administered numerous times to Flores to revive him, however, “he is a repeat offender and is driving unlicensed and revoked,” police said.

Flores was charged with driving under the influence of narcotics and issued summonses for reckless driving, controlled dangerous substance in a motor vehicle, being an unlicensed driver, driving while on the revoked list, possession of drug paraphernalia, and other related drug offenses.

The case is pending in Cumberland County Superior Court and Vineland Municipal Court.

Man arrested after almost striking a highway worker with his car

SHADY COVE — The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Trail man Tuesday afternoon on several charges after a motor vehicle crash on Highway 62 near Old Ferry in Shady Cove.Richard Stephan Mori, 64, of the 9000 block of Elk Creek Road, was arrested on charges of driving under influence of intoxicants, reckless driving, endangering a highway worker and harassment.Deputies responded to a call of a motor vehicle crash at 3:32 p.m. after Mori’s vehicle, a white 1998 Ford F-150 pickup, rear-ended a logging truck and a passenger vehicle that were at a stop due to the work zone. The highway, an undergoing enhancement project by Oregon Department of Transportation, only had one lane open with flaggers direct traffic while construction crews working in the other lane.According to the press release, Mori got out of his car and became “confrontational” by pushing one of the other drivers. He also threatened to shoot one to them. According to the press release, no weapon was seen.As he drove away, Mori nearly struck a flagger in the highway work zone, the press release shows. He was then located by a deputy on Rogue River Drive at Orchard Lane. He was taken into jail after a traffic stop.At the jail, deputies also issued citations for refusing a breath test, careless driving and driving with an open container of alcohol.Jackson County Sheriff said in the press release Mori was not charged with a “hit and run” because there was no visible damage to the involved vehicles.

Source: Man arrested after almost striking a highway worker with his car

Officer arrested on suspicion of DWI after allegedly causing car wreck

Arthur Lopez, 34, is accused of driving while intoxicated.An off-duty San Antonio police officer was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after he went the wrong way down a one-way street and caused a collision, officials said.Witnesses identified the officer, Arthur Lopez, 34, as the driver of a silver pickup that was involved in a crash near Market and Navarro streets, authorities said. Police said they believe Lopez was traveling the wrong direction on Navarro, a one-way street, and caused the crash.Lopez allegedly exhibited six signs of intoxication, including a strong odor of alcohol and bloodshot eyes. Lopez allegedly swayed during a sobriety test officers administered at the scene. Lopez refused other sobriety tests and a warrant for a blood draw was applied, according to the release.He was booked into Bexar County Jail on a $1,000 on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

Source: SAPD officer arrested on suspicion of DWI after allegedly causing car wreck – San Antonio Express-News

SF’s Alleged Drunk Driving Debutante Continues To Maintain Innocence, Still Out On $230K Bail

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It’s been nearly two years since a San Francisco debutante allegedly mowed down two kids in a Marina crosswalk as she drove her SUV while allegedly under the influence. But other than a brief booking the day of the crash, the suspect hasn’t spent a day in jail, continuing to plead not guilty as the case makes its slow way to trial.

A refresher, for those of you who’d forgotten the case: It was 8:30 a.m. on November 4 of 2015when witnesses say that then-30-year-old Sea Cliff resident Kirsten Andereck struck two Marina Middle School 7th graders who were walking in the crosswalk at Bay and Buchanan Streets.

According to police reports that the time, an ice cream delivery truck had stopped in the westbound lane of Bay Street to allow 12-year-olds Peter Nguyen and Julian Melendez to cross. Witnesses say that Kirsten Andereck instead passed the truck on the left and struck the kids with her white Volkswagen Tiguan SUV.

The collision was hard enough, ABC 7 reported at the time, that “the boys were launched into the air by the impact, thrown across the intersection. Their backpack, clothes, and shoes left scattered in the street.”

Andereck, who’d graduated from St. Ignatius College Preparatory in 2001, was a debutante at a Cotillion event hosted by the Cotillion Club of San Francisco in 2004. She was most recently employed as a teacher at several kindergarten and elementary schools in the city, and has a master’s degree in bilingual education from the University of San Francisco.

Her parents are Helga Andereck and Dr. William Andereck, who at the time of his daughter’s arrest was an internist and the medical director of California Pacific Medical Center’s Program in Medicine and Human Values.

She was arrested at the scene on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, police said at the time.

The next day, Andereck was released on $230,000 bail, after being charged with two felony drunk-driving counts, with one of those regarding the causation of great bodily injury, as well as two counts of child endangerment with enhancements of allegations of great bodily injury. She pled “not guilty” on November 10, represented at the time by two private defense attorneys: V. Roy Lefcourt (a defense attorney featured in this 1998 SF Weekly cover story on gang homicides) and Betsy Wolkin (perhaps best known as Ross Mirkarimi’s defense lawyer during his domestic violence case).

“This has been an exceptionally emotional” time for Andereck, Lefcourt said following her appearance in court to enter her not guilty plea. According to media reports at the time, Andereck was in fact so distraught by the case that she’s “had to be hospitalized the last few days,” Lefcourt said.

Meanwhile, the kids were also being hospitalized, in their cases for broken bones and “traumatic injuries,” an attorney for their family said. They had both returned to school by August of 2016, when their families announced a civil lawsuit against both Andereck and the city of San Francisco, as they say safety improvements to the intersection might have prevented the collision.

And that brings us to today, where the wheels of justice continue to turn. A look at court records shows that the civil suit brought by the victims against Andereck and SF continues, the most recent filings made on October 12 of this year.

But what of the criminal case, tweeted so openly by the District Attorney’s office when charges were filed? That, too, winds on, as DA’s spokesperson Max Szabo tells SFist that Andereck’s next appearance in court is November 16 (it’s case number 15024617, to be called at 9 a.m. in Department 23 at the 850 Bryant courthouse, the court website says).

But that appearance is just a hearing, Szabo says. He confirms that Andereck “hasn’t changed her plea” to any of the charges, which means that unless a plea deal is reached, a trial is inevitable. When asked about a possible trial date, however, Szabo said regretfully that he had no details on timing of a “final outcome,” meaning that we might expect this case to drag on for some time to come.

Drunk Driving? 15 Hollywood Actors Charged With DUI

Reese Witherspoon

The Oscar winning actress is known for romantic comedies like Legally Blonde but also biopics like Walk the Line. She’s also known for having a pretty quiet personal life as a mother. So it was very surprising when she made headlines for being arrested with her husband, Jim Toth, who was driving, for driving under the influence and disorderly conduct in 2013 in Atlanta.

“I think it was a moment where people realised that I wasn’t exactly what they thought I was,” the actress told Glamour. “I guess maybe we all like to define people by the way the media presents them, and I think that I showed I have a complexity that people didn’t know about.”

Source: Drunk Driving? 15 Hollywood Actors Charged With DUI

Heisman winner Troy Smith cited for driving under influence

GLENDALE, AZ – NOVEMBER 29: Quarterback Troy Smith #1 of the San Francisco 49ers watches from the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 29, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The 49ers defeated the Cardinals 27-6. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former NFL player and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith has been cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and operating a vehicle under the influence in Ohio.The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says the 33-year-old was asked to move his car to a diversion area at a Columbus checkpoint Friday after deputies detected a marijuana odor. A spokesman says paraphernalia was found during a vehicle search and that Smith refused to take field sobriety tests.Smith was not arrested and instead was issued a summons to appear in court.Smith won the Heisman in 2006 during his senior year at Ohio State University, leading the team to the national championship game that season, where the Buckeyes lost to Florida. He played for four years in the NFL with two different teams.Smith was also arrested in April 2016 on charges of driving under the influence and marijuana possession.

Source: Heisman winner Troy Smith cited for driving under influence – fox8.com

A stolen truck, a stolen backhoe and a strange case for police

A 42-year-old man is behind bars after a strange incident involving a stolen truck, a stolen backhoe and alleged driving under the influence.Here’s how it all went down, according to Pasco police:At about 11:22 a.m. Saturday, a citizen flagged down a Pasco officer near North 20th Avenue and West Octave Street. The citizen was concerned about a man driving a backhoe erratically in the area.The officer found an unoccupied backhoe nearby, with a man running away from it through Memorial Park.The officer stopped the man — Craig Burch of Kennewick — who was “EXTREMELY happy that officers were there to help him load the backhoe into a ‘77 Chevy C2 pickup (obviously a bit small to carry a backhoe),” Pasco police wrote in a post about the incident.It turned out Burch had outstanding warrants and his driver’s license was suspended.Also, the pickup and backhoe were stolen.Burch was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of narcotics, along with his warrants. He was booked into the Franklin County jail on investigative holds for possessing a stolen vehicle and theft of a motor vehicle, police said.

Source: A stolen truck, a stolen backhoe and a strange case for Pasco police | Tri-City Herald

Methuen police misled Spanish-speaking drivers suspected of DUI, lawsuit says

Methuen police officers participated in a traffic stop last year.

After a night of drinking and watching movies with friends, Patricia Pimentel sped out of her friend’s driveway, hit two parked cars, and was arrested and charged with operating under the influence.

At the Methuen police station, she was handed a form in Spanish that said the legal blood alcohol limit is .10 and that a jury would be notified if she refused to take a breathalyzer test.