DA accused of reckless driving now teaching at WNMU

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico District Attorney infamously captured on video getting out of a potential DWI arrest now has a second job.

Despite being charged with using her job to obtain personal benefits, a New Mexico college has hired her as a part-time professor.

The University says she was the only applicant qualified for the job.


Francesca Estevez is the Grant County District Attorney.

“I didn’t think I did anything wrong, except I swerved to remain control,” says Estevez.

Back in 2016, a witness saw her weaving all over the highway near Silver City on a weekend in her government-issued car.

“Going off the road… Going head on! Other cars coming!” says the caller.

Silver City Police suspected she was drunk, but never tested her and sent her on her way.

The attorney general eventually charged her with reckless driving and for using her work car for personal gain and ethics violations.

As she waits for her trail to start in June, Estevez can add another job skill to her resume: teacher at Western New Mexico University.

“Ms. Estevez is on contract in a temporary position to instruct the Police Academy cadets,” says Gilbert Najar, Police Academy Director at WMNU.

The Police Acadamy Director says Estevez is teaching police cadets how to become a police officer. She is getting paid about $5,500 for the part-time job.

Najar says it is only going to last until April when a full-time professor comes on board.

“We were successful in finding an applicant here locally, current District Court Judge Aldrich will be assuming that position.”

Even though Estevez is controversial, Najar says he stands by his hire.

“I can’t comment on any pending legal actions,” Najar says, “Based on her qualifications, history and experience, knowledge, her doctorate and everything that I considered, she does meet the requirements.”

Najar says the cadets do not seem to mind their instructor’s history.

“I’ve not received any negative feedback on her instruction today,” says Najar.

Estevez is still in the District Attorney in Grant County. She easily won re-election after the now-infamous traffic stop.


Former Eagles fullback Jon Ritchie arrested for DUI

The celebrations in Philadelphia last week were mostly peaceful, but not necessarily without incident.

According to Rob Torone of Philly.com, former Eagles fullback and local radio personality Jon Ritchie was arrested for DUI and simple assault last Friday morning, hours after fans packed the streets for a victory parade.

The 43-year-old Ritchie also faces charges of recklessly endangering another person. He was released without bail, and has a court date on March 14.

Ritchie co-hosts a midday show on WIP radio and former Eagles offensive lineman Tra Thomas filled in for him Friday.

A former third-round pick of the Raiders, Ritchie spent five years with the Raiders, and also ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 2016.


DUI suspect arrested after Lamborghini crashes into construction trailer

DUI suspect arrested after Lamborghini crashes into construction trailer in Costa Mesa
A green Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera became wedged under a construction trailer after crashing in the 1600 block of Whittier Avenue in Costa Mesa early Saturday. The driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, police said. (Courtesy of Costa Mesa Police Department)

A 31-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving early Saturday after a green Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera crashed into and became wedged underneath a construction trailer in Costa Mesa, police said.

Costa Mesa police responded to a report of the crash in the 1600 block of Whittier Avenue at 2:10 a.m.

The driver, Cesar Castro Rodriguez of Westminster, was not injured and was looking for his 25-year-old passenger when authorities arrived, police said.

Rodriguez was arrested at the scene.

Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue crews spent 45 minutes cutting through the floor of the trailer to get to the passenger side of the car, a V-10 luxury sports model with more than 500 horsepower that when new cost around $200,000.

However, no one was in the car. The passenger had left and was found at his home two hours later with minor injuries, police said.


Boston police officer arraigned on drunken driving charges

An off-duty Boston police officer was allegedly drunk and speeding when his truck collided with another vehicle on New Year’s Day in Dorchester, leaving one man with a life-threatening brain injury, kidney and spleen lacerations, and a fractured pelvis, court records show.

The details were made public after the arraignment Friday of Domenic A. Columbo, a six-year veteran of the force, in Dorchester District Court on charges of operating under the influence of alcohol causing serious injury and negligence.

A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. Prosecutors did not seek bail.

Columbo, 39, dressed in a dark-colored suit, left court without speaking to reporters. His lawyer also declined to comment.

Authorities allege that Columbo was intoxicated shortly before 3:30 a.m. when his Ford F-150 struck a Honda Accord sedan in the area of Columbia Road and Ceylon Street.

The Accord sustained “major damage” to the passenger-side front and rear doors, and a passenger in the car, Jose Teixeira, suffered injuries so severe that police called the Homicide Unit and Fatal Collision Investigative Team to the scene, the report said.

Teixeira, who turns 21 on Saturday, ultimately survived, but he was initially rushed to Boston Medical Center with a litany of critical injuries.

They included a “life threatening brain injury requiring surgery (craniectomy), laceration to his kidney and spleen requiring surgery, pelvis and rib fractures requiring surgery, and a fractured right femur requiring surgery,” the report said.

Teixeira’s condition Friday wasn’t known, and his family couldn’t be reached for comment.

The driver of the Accord, Jose Andrade Dossantos, 20, suffered a “possible fracture” to his clavicle, along with minor cuts and scrapes, according to the report. Attempts to reach Dossantos for comment were unsuccessful.

Columbo suffered a laceration to his forehead and scalp area, as well as a fractured vertebra in his neck, the report said.

A blood sample taken from Columbo at the hospital showed an ethanol serum level of 141 mg/dl, which is “over the legal limit of alcohol” for driving, police said. Dossantos’s sample showed no ethanol detected.

Columbo’s ethanol reading suggests a blood alcohol content of 0.11 or greater at the time of the crash, according to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office. The legal limit is .08.

Witnesses told investigators that Columbo’s truck was “definitely going fast” and “speeding really fast” at the time of the collision, the report said.

Columbo is currently on paid administrative leave, and his next court date is scheduled for March 23.

Asked for comment Friday, a Boston police spokesman referred a reporter to a prior statement from Commissioner William B. Evans.

“My officers are expected to abide by the same laws they are sworn to uphold,” Evans said. “No one is above the law, and those who break it will be held accountable. I am happy to hear that all those injured will recover, and I take this opportunity to remind everyone not to drink and drive.”

Authorities have said Columbo has no prior disciplinary history, and he received a department commendation in 2014 for helping to save the life of a stabbing victim.

Police said in a 2014 release announcing the commendation that Columbo and Officer Kevin Plunkett applied pressure to the unconscious victim’s leg wound and created a tourniquet with his belt to “combat the worsening situation.”

Columbo’s driving record provided by the Registry of Motor Vehicles shows two prior surchargeable accidents in Westwood in 1996 and Needham in 2003.

In addition to the accidents, Columbo was cited for speeding in 1998, 2000, and 2001, and for a seat belt violation in 2009, according to his record.


Trial in fatal boating collision moved to late April

Mongan attorney agrees to trial extension to give expert time to prepare report

A trial date was set Thursday for Marc Mongan, shown here in court Thursday. The Oregon man is charged in a 2016 fatal boating collision. The trial is set to begin in late April.

OREGON – The trial of an Oregon man charged in a 2016 fatal boating collision now is set to begin in late April.

An attorney for Marc Mongan, 47, Thursday agreed to an extension of a speedy trial demand to allow more time for a defense expert to compile a report.

Judge John Redington rescheduled the trial, originally set to begin Wednesday, for April 23 to May 3.

Mongan is charged with one count of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, which carries 3 to 7 years in prison, three counts of reckless homicide, each of which carries 2 to 5 years, and three counts of reckless conduct, each of which carries 1 to 3 years, in the death of Megan Wells, 31, of Rockford.

Wells died June 24, 2016, when a johnboat Mongan was operating on the Rock River struck her as it went over the back of the pontoon boat in which she was riding, throwing her overboard.

On Jan. 30, Redington granted a motion from David Neal, of the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s office, to continue the case until he gets the defense expert’s report.

Mongan’s attorney, Russell Crull, told Redington on Thursday that his expert wants to see the pontoon boat, which is in the custody of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, then will need 2 weeks to write the report.

Crull is working with the IDNR’s legal department to set a date that the boat can be examined, he said.

The defense’s standard demand for a speedy trial mandates the trial must begin by March 15, unless the defense agrees to an extension of that deadline, to which Crull agreed.

Redington ordered the extension and said the expert must examine the boat by March 2 and have the report turned into the court by March 15.

Neal asked for time to file motions once he has seen the expert’s report.

Redington set a final pretrial hearing for April 5.