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Judge candidate’s drunk driving case tossed in plea deal

Oakland County Judge candidate fails roadside sobriety test Royal Oak Police, The Detroit News


Royal Oak — In a plea agreement with the city attorney’s office, a candidate for the Oakland County Circuit Court bench pleaded guilty Wednesday to littering and acknowledged responsibility for careless driving in exchange for having a drunken driving charge dismissed.

Julie A. McDonald, 49, of Bloomfield Hills was arrested Sept. 8 on Woodward Avenue after a police officer saw her toss something out a driver’s side window of her 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and make an unsignalled turn onto the busy roadway.

“I was driving down 11 Mile and threw a cigarette out the window and on the street,” McDonald told Royal Oak 44th District Judge Jamie Wittenberg at a pretrial hearing in which the plea agreement was entered.

McDonald made no reference to drinking; the littering offense is a misdemeanor, while careless driving is a civil infraction.

Misdemeanors are punishable by jail time and fines of $245.

Satisfied that McDonald understood the agreement, Wittenberg accepted the plea and allowed her to remain free on bond pending a Dec. 13 sentencing date. Wittenberg also ordered McDonald not to use alcohol or controlled substances except for prescribed purposes.


He said she is to report to the probation department for an alcohol screening assessment prior to the sentencing. A first-time drunken driving conviction, while a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 93 days in jail and other conditions.

McDonald would not respond to questions from reporters. Her attorney, Lawrence Sherman, said “My client sincerely regrets her actions.

 “Clearly this situation was avoidable and she is disappointed in herself for allowing this to happen,” Sherman told reporters outside the courtroom. “She has spent a lot of time reflecting on her actions and the negative consequences brought about by them. She is truly sorry.

“As a candidate for public office, she has an obligation to set a higher standard,” Sherman said. “She recognizes that responsibility and is committed to achieving it.”

City attorney David Gillam said after reviewing the facts in the incident, it was determined that the plea agreement was appropriate.

“Her actions, her driving, speed, was not excessive or outrageous,” Gillam said. “She tested at about the level of intoxication.”

Gillam bristled at a suggestion that McDonald received special consideration because she is a judicial candidate.

“Our office doesn’t prosecute people based on their jobs or what they might be in the future,” he said. “…This is not a matter of pay $245 and you’re out the door… She will be interviewed by probation officers and the judge has much discretion in sentencing, including putting her on probation for up to two years.”

Gilliam noted the matter is also being reported to the Attorney Grievance Commission and the Judicial Tenure Commission, which can also determine whether other penalties could be appropriate. Those supervising agencies have a broad range of powers, including suspension of licenses to practice law, even disbarment.

Police said McDonald, who was driving a few miles over the posted speed limit — 54 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone — before being stopped south of Catalpa about 10:45 a.m.

She fumbled with papers inside the vehicle and gave the officer an expired registration and insurance papers for the vehicle. The officer smelled an odor of alcohol inside the vehicle and described McDonald’s eyes as “watery and bloodshot,” according to a police report obtained by The News under the Michigan of Freedom of Information Act.

McDonald subsequently failed field sobriety tests and when asked if she had been drinking, told the officer she had four vodka-and-soda drinks the night before. She recorded a .10 blood-alcohol level, and later at the police station, a .08 level, at which a motorist is considered intoxicated.

During the ride to the police station, McDonald fretted to the officer on how she was running for office and the arrest would reflect badly on her. When the officer told her he had no discretion in the matter, she calmly said she understood.

Later while sitting handcuffed in the patrol car’s back seat, she managed to make a call on her cellular phone. In the conversation, according to a patrol car videotape, she told the person she called for help: “I’m screwed…”

Despite the plea agreement, there is nothing preventing McDonald, the daughter of retired Oakland Circuit Judge John McDonald, from being elected to the judgeship, which until a few weeks ago appeared to be uncontested.

The newly created judicial seat on the Oakland bench carries a six-year term and pays $145,558 a year.

Following her arrest, four other attorneys — Michael Blau of Farmington; Maryann Bruder of Huntington Woods; Edward Nahhat of Royal Oak; and Corrine Shoop of Southfield, all registered as write-in candidates with the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

Drunken School Security Guard Arrested After Halloween Trick-Or-Treating Collision

Michael Barrett, 47, of Woodcrest Avenue in Stratford, was charged with risk of injury to a child, operating while under the influence and failure to maintain his lane, police said.

Barrett, who works as a school security officer at Booth Hill School in Shelton and in the Trumbull school system, had a blood alcohol level of .191, more than twice the legal limit of .08, police said.

According to police, he was driving his 12-year-old daughter to go trick-or-treating at the time of the collision at Nichols and North avenues. He struck a car driven by a woman who also was driving her children to go trick-or-treating.

Barrett smelled strongly of alcohol, police said, and admitted he had six drinks.

His status with the Shelton and Trumbull school systems could not be determined Friday.

Impaired Driver in Stolen Jeep Led Police on Chase, Crashed Into Cars: Police

Police said Scott Kaminski crashed into several vehicles during the chase.

A Glastonbury man suspected of driving under the influence and crashing into several cars, including a school bus in East Hampton, was arrested after a police chase that went through several towns and ended in East Windsor Monday afternoon, according to state police. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018)

A Glastonbury man suspected of driving under the influence and crashing into several cars, including a school bus in East Hampton, was arrested after a police chase that went through several towns and ended in East Windsor Monday afternoon, according to state police.

State police have arrested 32-year-old Scott Kaminski, of Glastonbury, who they said was driving a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee that had been reported stolen earlier in the day and Waterbury police were chasing the vehicle, but they ended the pursuit when the driver got away and contacted state police.

State police said this case was connected to a crash earlier in the day when a driver in a stolen pickup hit a school bus full of children in East Hampton around 7:40 a.m.

The driver of a Jeep stopped to make sure everyone was OK and the driver who hit the bus school took the Good Samaritan’s Jeep and took off, according to police.

Police Chase Starts and Ends With Crashes

[HAR] Police Chase Starts and Ends With Crashes

A suspect accused of crashing a stolen vehicle into a school bus full of kids and stealing a good Samaritan’s vehicle in East Hampton has been located after a police pursuit through multiple towns that ended in a crash in East Windsor Monday.

(Published Monday, Oct. 29, 2018)

Initial reports were that the Jeep was in the area of the Southington rest area on I-84 East.

Around 2:18 p.m., police saw the Jeep speeding on I-84 East near exit 39A in West Hartford, then get off at exit 42 and hit several vehicles in Hartford and West Hartford, according to state police.

The Jeep was then seen near exit 48 and troopers tried to stop the vehicle, but state police said Kaminski kept going.

After getting off I-91 at exit 42, Kaminski took South Main Street to Route 140, where the Jeep hit a dump truck and another vehicle before flipping over onto the side, police said.

When the chase ended at Route 140 and Shoham Road, Kaminski was unconscious and he was transported to Hartford Hospital.

Police said there were two warrants for him from Manchester police.

Once he was released from the hospital Kaminski was charged with first-degree larceny, interfering, engaging in a pursuit, reckless driving, operating under suspension, possession of narcotics, possession of drug paraphernalia, prescription container violation and operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

No headlights, beer cans in front seat lead to felony DWI

A Niagara Falls woman pulled over for not having her headlights on was arrested early Wednesday on several charges including felony driving while intoxicated, according to the City of Tonawanda Police Department.

Gabrielle C. Hickey, 19, was pulled over around 1:30 a.m. on Delaware Street for operating a vehicle with no headlights. Officers said Hickey showed signs of intoxication, and that there were numerous 16-ounce cans of beer on the front seat and on the floor of vehicle.

Hickey admitted to officers to “drinking and driving.” When instructed to exit her vehicle to conduct field tests, police said Hickey attempted to flee the scene but was detained by officers.

Police say Hickey, who had a previous DWI in January 2018, failed all field tests and refused a Breathalyzer test. She was also charged with first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle as well as three traffic charges. She was held on $500 bail.

No headlights, beer cans in front seat lead to felony DWI

Officer suspected of OVI after on-duty crash

A Piqua police officer pleaded not guilty to driving while under the influence Tuesday in Miami County Municipal Court.

Justin Augustine’s attorney, Mark Wieczorek, filed the written plea.

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An arraignment had been scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Augustine was also charged with operating a vehicle without being in reasonable control.

Body camera footage obtained by this news organization shows the moments after Piqua Officer Justin Augustine was taken back to the police station following an on-duty crash.

Augustine is facing an OVI charge and was placed on paid administrative leave because of the incident.

A Piqua police officer is facing an OVI charge and is under administrative investigation following a crash while he was on duty.

Officer Justin Augustine, 38, is charged with OVI and operating a vehicle without reasonable control, according to records.

“The first principle in any internal investigation is the department’s duty to the public,” said Piqua Chief of Police Bruce Jamison. “The second principle is the duty to provide fair procedures to any officer involved.”

Augustine reported the Oct. 27 crash to a supervisor, according to a press release from the Piqua Police Department.

Body camera footage obtained by this news organization shows the moments after Piqua Officer Justin Augustine was taken back to the police station following an on-duty crash.

A portion of body camera footage was released Monday evening and showed Augustine saying he was “done” and “****ed up.”

This news organization attempted to contact Augustine at his home, however no one answered the door.

A police report said he told the supervisor, Lt. Rick Byron, he damaged the cruiser when he stopped in the lot to go the bathroom. A crash report said the cruiser passenger side hit a flatbed semi-trailer parked in the lot, causing heavy damage to the cruiser.

“Officer Augustine walked me to the passenger side of his patrol vehicle, where I observed significant damage to the entire passenger side starting at the front windshield and ending on the rear quarter panel,” officers wrote in a police report read. “While speaking with Officer Augustine, I observed that his eyes were bloodshot and red and that his speech was slow and slurred.”

The crash was in the 700 block of East Ash Street around 7:30 p.m., records showed.

A short time later, after Augustine had been taken back to the police station, another officer told the supervisor investigating that he felt the supervisor “needed to go on station to deal with Officer Augustine as he appeared to be impaired and was demonstrating odd behavior, to include hugging and kissing him and other officers and telling them that he loved them,” the report read.

Augustine told investigators “he had been drunk today, but denied being drunk now,” according to the report.

Police ended up finding Four Loko Gold alcoholic beverage can in the driver’s door of Augustine’s personal vehicle at the police station and also located a can of the same drink near the crash scene, the report read.

Augustine is due in court for arraignment on Wednesday and was placed on paid administrative leave.