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Man Gets His Third First-Offense DUI

Last summer, Christopher Gish was taken into custody 3 times in the time period of 11 days and was charged with DUI in Dickson County.

His driving privileges could have been taken after his 2nd offense but he remained free until the third offense because of some reasons, in which the communication gap between the Borough cops and circumstances of Lackawanna County’s method of prosecuting the DUI drivers were included.

Last week, he was sentenced to 6 months of house arrest by Lackawanna County Judge, Michael Barrasse, for a 3rd time DUI offense. In the month of October after pleading guilty, he was ordered to pay an amount of $8,100 in fine.

38-year-old Gish slipped through the loophole in the State law due to the short period of time in which he got DUI’s otherwise he would have been facing strict penalties for the 3rd offense.

According to Chief William Bilinski, another reason of his short sentence was that he was taken into custody on 22nd of August for the 1st offense and for the 2nd time on 27th of August and due to the close dates, the Dickson City police officer didn’t make the link between the 2 offenses he committed. Police failed in recognition so he was allowed to drive and was set free on the roads which was a risk for other people present on the roadways.

According to David Hahn, who is the agency’s director, Dickson City Police Officer Michael Ranakoski did not check the background details from the 911 dispatch center during the 2nd time Gish was taken into custody, which maintains countywide and national criminal database on matters such as outstanding warrants and the times in which someone is taken into custody. By law, a cop must request that information for the dispatcher to release it, told Mr. Hahn.

Had he requested it, the cop may have learnt that Mr. Gish was getting arrested for his second DUI arrest in 5 days. In that case, steps could have been taken to stop his release, which is what happened after the 3rd time he was taken into custody.

Speaking through Chief Bilinski, the officer said he did not make the request due to the reason that he was focused on completing the arrest at the time. But even if he had, the happening of the first time arrest may not have been available to him.

The reason behind that is that law enforcement officials here rely on a blood test to find the BAC level when building a case against a suspected drunk driver. Chief Bilinski said that the results from a blood test can take almost 2 to 3 weeks to arrive from the lab. It is usual in the county to release suspected drunk drivers from custody until those results are available to show that the person was under the influence.

That time period delays the filing of charges and the launching of a criminal court case. DUI cases in which breath tests are used can initiate court proceedings and the potential penalties faster. Due to the reason that Mr. Gish had been taken into custody twice in a short period of time, his initial charges would likely not have even been logged yet, according to Chief Bilinski and Mr. Hahn.

Lackawanna County Deputy District Attorney, Robert Klein, who is the head of the office’s DUI unit, said that the lag time of using blood compared to breath tests is extensively outweighed by its greater accuracy value, as well as its ability to test for illegal drugs in the suspected individual which is an increasing issue in area drivers.

Mr. Klein said of blood testing, “It’s better. All around better”.

When he was taken into custody for the first 2 times, Mr. Gish had an extremely high BAC level which came out to be 0.332 percent the 1st time it was tested and 0.312 percent the 2nd time. Chief Bilinski, who took Mr. Gish into custody for the third time, estimated him at similar levels. These BAC levels are more than or near to four times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Attempts to approach Mr. Gish were not successful.

He will lose his driver’s license for 3 years, one for each verdict because he has been sentenced now, told Mr. Klein. He was able to get back his seized Ford F-150 pickup truck after his 1st DUI and drive it, as he had not yet been convicted.

When he was taken into custody for the 3rd time, he was behind the wheel of a Honda Civic with expired registration and no insurance, said Chief Bilinski.

Although they failed to recognize Mr. Gish’s immediate criminal history at the time of the 2nd arrest, Dickson City police officers did notice it a short time after and were ready for him the third time on 2nd of September. The department alerted the district attorney’s office in advance and Judge Barrasse set extraordinarily high cash bail of $100,000, essentially denying another fast release.

The chief said, “We knew we needed to get him off the street because he just was not complying. He would not listen.”

Usually, a 3rd DUI conviction within 10 years at the highest level of BAC level, which categorizes Mr. Gish, would require a judge give the defendant minimum 1 year in prison and would permit for a maximum of 5 years but as the arrests came in such close succession, Mr. Gish had no convictions on his record at any of the times he was arrested. Therefore, every time he was taken into custody, the arrest had to be logged as a 1st offense which carries a lighter compulsory sentence of just 72 hours in jail and permit for a maximum of 6 months. Penalties for first offense also carry a driver’s license suspension of 1 year rather than serving 18 months in jail for the 3rd conviction.

Other than the 6 months of house arrest and the high amount of fine, Judge Barrasse sentenced Mr. Gish to 18 months of alcohol-free court supervision, nine months of monitoring with an alcohol-detecting bracelet and alcohol counseling for his addiction. In his court appearance, Mr. Gish accepted to the issue. After he was taken into custody for the 3rd time, Mr. Gish told police officers that he couldn’t stop and didn’t want to be let out of prison, told Chief Bilinski.

The chief added, “He knew he had a problem. He was getting up in the morning and he was drinking just to feel good.”

News Source: TheTimes-Tribune

Elkins Park Woman Charged With DUI In Husband’s Death

54-years-old Alexandria Cogan of Elkins Park was charged on Monday for causing an alleged DUI accident that resulted in her husband’s death.

The incident took place in Lower Moreland on 19 August on Huntingdon Pike near Spur Road when Cogan was driving a Mazda Miata convertible. She had the top of the vehicle down when it crossed over the yellow lines and slammed into a Toyota Camry. Police reports confirm that Cogan was driving at a speed of 63 m.p.h in a 45 m.p.h zone when the incident happened.

As a result of the collision, the Mazda flipped over. Cogan’s husband, 70-year-old Stuart, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Camry was damaged from the front-end heavily and the driver of the Camry was rushed to the hospital. The extent of the driver’s injuries were not known.

According to police records, Cogan has a previous drunken-driving conviction. She was arrested in 1999 in Cheltenham for DUI for which she entered the Montgomery County’s diversion program.

For the recent incident, she was arraigned Monday afternoon on charges including a felony count of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence. Her bail was set at $100,000 by District Judge Jay Friedenberg after which she was released. According to the court documents, Cogan’s blood alcohol level was recorded at 0.253, which is three times the legal limit for driving.

Glenn Frank Gilman, Cogan’s attorney based in Philadelphia, did not return a phone call immediately for comment.

News Source: www.Philly.com

Secane Woman Awaiting Trial For Fatal Drunk Driving Incident

24-year-old Nichole Labelle of Secane is awaiting trial for killing a young man while she was driving intoxicated in Philadelphia.

The incident took place two years ago in Upper Darby when Labelle was arrested one Tuesday night after she crashed her car. According to police, she had used prescription pills and was high on heroin at the time.

According to the police reports, Secane crashed her vehicle into an unoccupied car at about 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday. The incident took place on Westbrook Drive near Alverstone Road.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood gave details of the incident saying that Labelle was speaking in a lethargic manner. She also had only one shoe on at the time. She told the police that she allegedly got distracted which caused the crash.

Labelle was questioned by the police and she told them that she had taken two prescription pills, Adderall and Seroquel, and she also had a shot of heroin before she got behind the wheel of her car.

According to the authorities, Labelle has several problems.

Her previous record showed that at the time she was arrested for this incident, she was already out on bail awaiting trial for another driving under the influence incident that took place on July 15, 2012. She was facing homicide by vehicle charges after she killed 21-year-old George Kaminski of West Grove, Chester County in a midafternoon crash.

Labelle was travelling on Enterprise Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia when she crossed over the shoulder and crashed into a stopped tractor-trailer. Kaminski, who was a passenger in the truck suffered severe head and body trauma in the crash. He died two days later from the injuries he sustained in the accident.

She was arrested on charges of vehicular homicide and her bail was initially set at 10 percent of $350,000 in that case. However, it was later reduced to 10 percent of $50,000 which she posted in August.

The next pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for 17 December. A spokeswoman for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Tasha Jamerson, stated that new charges are most likely to be brought up against Labelle in the conference and a bail revocation may also be requested then.

Labelle faces several charges in the recent case, including DUI, careless driving and other related offenses. She is currently being held at Delaware County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail.

News Source: Mobile.Philly.com

Haverford High School Football Coach Faces DUI Charge

58-year-old Joe Gallagher, a longtime football coach at Haverford High School in Delaware County, is going to need a good defensive coordinator after his recent DUI charge.

Gallagher was arrested on the suspicion of drunk driving after he allegedly fled the scene of a crash that took place in Prospect Park on Saturday. According to the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, he is also facing charges of reckless driving apart from the DUI charge.

Police reports confirm that Gallagher allegedly drove into another vehicle about 4 p.m. when he was at an intersection. After the crash, he fled the scene. However, no one was injured in the crash.

Gallagher was later pulled over by a Prospect Park Police Department officer who spotted his car as described by witnesses.

The officer found an open bottle of Piraat Belgian Ale in the car’s center cup holder. Gallagher also had a faint odor of alcohol on his breath and he told the officer that he “messed up.”

“I hit [the other driver] and should have stopped,” he told the officer.

According to Amanda Larsen, a spokeswoman for the Haverford Township School District, Gallagher has taken a leave of absence from his coaching position. The reason for his leave of absence is “personal reasons”.

During his absence, an assistant coach at Haverford High, Jack O’Donnell, will serve as the acting head coach.

News Source: Mobile.Philly.com

Fleeing DUI Driver Strikes Bicyclist And Parked Car In West Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – A suspected drunk driver was taken in custody in West Philadelphia after he tried to flee and evade police officers. While he was attempting to flee, he hit a 22-year-old man riding a bicycle and also struck a parked car.

The incident took place on Saturday and started around 12:40 a.m. Police tried to stop a vehicle which was speeding and travelling in the wrong lane of a two-way street at 5500 Spruce Street. However, the driver completely ignored the police and struck a bicyclist. The incident took place in the 800 block of South 56th Street in Cobbs Creek.

The driver, who was thought to be driving while under the influence then continued to flee while officers pursued him. He hit a parked vehicle which caused the parked vehicle to strike another parked vehicle. The vehicle was parked along the 5000 block of Baltimore Avenue.

After the driver hit the parked vehicle, he tried to flee from the scene in foot. He was later found at his home by the police where he was arrested.

The bicyclist who was hit by the drunk driver sustained several injuries and was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He sustained injuries to his arms, legs and neck. However, he was listed to be in stable condition.

The drunk driver who tried to flee from the accident spots was expected to be charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, recklessly endangering another person and similar offenses. The identity of the 20-year-old driver was not immediately released by the police.

News Source: Philadelphia.CBSLocal.com

Drexel Hill Man Charged With Aggravated Assault After Slamming Into Three Vehicles While DUI

UPPER DARBY – A DUI crash that took place on Sunday resulted in a Drexel Hill man being charged with aggravated assault and related offenses.

According to police reports, the man was driving under the influence, seriously injured a 31-year-old woman and also slammed into three vehicles.

The offender, identified as 57-year-old Ronald Devuono of the 3800 block of Bonsall Avenue, was driving a bright orange 2014 Dodge Charger when he went for a Sunday drive through Drexel Hill area around 5 p.m. Police reports state that he allegedly had an open bottle of Don Perignon in the vehicle.

Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said that Devuono struck a parked 2014 Jeep Cherokee while driving in the area of Childs Avenue and Lasher Road. The incident caused significant damage to the Jeep and Devuono fled the scene at a high rate of speed. However, witnesses were able to note the license number of his car.

After fleeing from the scene, Devuono went in the area of Garrett Road and Congress Avenue where he smashed his car into a 1999 Toyota Corolla within five minutes of the first crash. The Corolla was being driven by a woman. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the collision and was admitted to Delaware County Memorial in serious condition with multiple fractures. After his car bounced off the Toyota, he then smashed into a 2004 Acura.

His vehicle then bounced onto the trolley racks before it came to a stop. Devuono then leaned out of his Charger to empty a bottle of Dom Perignon onto the ground according to witnesses.

“When police officers arrive, he can just about get out of the car. There was a strong odor of alcohol and he flunked field sobriety tests,” said Chitwood.

Devuono suffered several injuries in the crash. He was taken to Delaware County Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries and for blood tests.

Chitwood commented on the incident saying, “Here’s a guy who could have killed numerous people, not only in vehicles, but on the sidewalk. Fortunately, nobody got killed, but the woman he hit suffered significant injuries.”

Devuono faces several charges as a result of the incident including driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, reckless driving, careless driving, accident involving damage to unattended vehicle or property, failure to stop and render aid, reckless endangerment and related offenses.

He is being held in Delaware County prison on 10 percent of $25,000 bail.

Source: www.DelcoTimes.com

Drunk Driver Slams Into Two Vehicles And A Cruiser At Intersection

MONTGOMERY TWP., Pa. – A dash cam video has been released by the Montgomery Township officers of a drunk driving suspect who slammed into two vehicles on an intersection before crashing violently into a police cruiser.

The officer driving the cruiser was waiting at a red light when a car careened through the intersection, before crashing into the police cruiser and other vehicles.

Montgomery Township officers responded to reports of a vehicle collision and entrapment at an intersection according to the reporter.

The crash was recorded by the dash cam on the cruiser. Another vehicle was also struck by the drunk driver but it was not recorded on camera.

The driver of the vehicle was charged with DUI. There were no serious injuries from the accident and only one single minor injury was reported.

After the incident, the drunk driver showed little remorse after the accident. According to CBS Philadelphia, he reportedly told the police that he didn’t understand why those involved in the crash were upset.

Police Chief Scott Bendig said, “This could have been catastrophic. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.”

The dash cam video was released by the department to reinforce the dangers of drunk driving.

News Source: www.PoliceOne.com

Camden County police officer faces DWI charges in crash that toppled sign

A Camden County police officer has been charged with DWI after he allegedly drove a red pickup truck through three street signs on Friday 20 June, shortly before 2 am. The crash happened at Route 38 and Church Road. The officer was removed from street duty after the incident.

The officer, 21-year old William A. Grasso of Hammonton, N.J., is facing drunken driving charges. After driving through the three street signs, he struck a building and also knocked down a neon sign for Benash Liquors in Cherry Hill. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and reckless driving. Grasso was off-duty at the time.

According to police, it was not clear where Grasso was coming from at that time. Grasso was also removed from police duty after the crash. The Camden County police department’s internal affairs unit is investigating the crash.

Their police spokesman Mike Daniels said, “The officer has been taken off the street and relieved of police powers as the facts of this incident are ascertained.”

Daniels said that Grasso could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. It is not known if Grasso has an attorney or not.

An accident report filed by Cherry Hill police stated that Grasso’s truck hopped a curb in the traffic circle median. It then struck two road signs before going back onto the road and hopping another curb. The truck then plowed into another road sign before it finally rammed into the longtime liquor store sign. After that, the truck hit part of a brick retaining wall and finally stopped after hitting a tree.

Grasso suffered from head trauma after all the crashes and was also bleeding. He was taken to Kennedy Health System in Cherry Hill.

The liquor store sign in which Grasso crashed had been around since 1947. According to the co-owner of Benash Liquors, Rich Brooks , the sign was considered an area icon. It was known for its red and yellow arrow pointing toward the store’s door. “The guy pretty much destroyed it,” Brooks said.

Brooks took photos of the damage early Friday after he learnt about the crash. The snapped photos show the pickup’s windshield severely cracked and the front end nearly totaled.

Grasso’s blood sample was taken to check his BAC level, but his blood alcohol content level was not released by Cherry Hill police. According to the accident report, his blood test results were “pending.”

Grasso was nominated for officer of the week in September 2013 for his “outstanding police work” as is mentioned on the Camden County police website. He is the second member of the Camden County Police Department to be entangled with the authorities while off-duty.

Grasso is scheduled to appear in court next Wednesday.

News Source: Articles.Philly.com

Man charged with DUI after fatal motorcycle crash

UPPER DARBY – On Friday night, a fatal collision took place between a vehicle and a motorcycle at the intersection of Coverly and Marshall roads, which resulted in the death of a Lansdowne man.

47-year-old Gregory Hayes was pronounced dead at the accident scene at 11:12 p.m. He was of the 200 block of Braddock Road. Hayes is a Philadelphia School District police officer who was on his way to work the midnight shift. He was riding a motorcycle to work.

The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Salome A. Seay, of the 200 block of Coverly Road, in the Lansdowne post office section of Upper Darby was driving the vehicle that struck Hayes. He was arrested and charged with DUI and homicide by vehicle DUI related.

According to police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, “This is a tragedy that should never have happened.” It was later found out that Hayes was married and a father of two very young kids. He was wearing a helmet when the accident happened and had the right of way and did everything right.

“It looks like the defendant was trying to drag race with another motorist and when the light turned green he took off at a high rate of speed and just turned right in front of the guy on motorcycle. It’s just a tragedy,” said Chitwood.

Two witnesses present at the scene reported seeing the man driving a red Silverado pickup truck at an estimated speed of 65 to 75 mph before he cut off the motorcyclist.

Hayes was riding a Suzuki motorcycle and was traveling the eastbound direction on Marshall Road when Seay allegedly made a left turn which caused his motorcycle to broadside the passenger side of the truck.

When officers arrived at the scene, they detected an odor of alcohol on the driver. They took a BAC test and also a field sobriety test.

According to Chitwood, “He flunked every field test, the PBT (portable breath test) and field test and was taken to the hospital for blood testing.”

Seay was taken into custody and was arraigned on charges of DUI, homicide by vehicle,homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, aggravated assault while DUI, careless driving, improper left turn and reckless driving.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 16 before Magisterial District Judge Christopher Mattox. He was held in lieu of posting 10 percent of $100,000 bail pending his hearing.

News Source: www.DelcoTimes.com

Drunk driver accused of hitting and killing teen will not be charged

LEVITTOWN, Pa. – According to police reports, a driver accused of hitting and killing a teenager from Bucks County and injuring another one while driving under the influence of a prescription drug will not be charged. The driver was also under the influence of cocaine.

The victim’s family members say it is a miscarriage of justice.

The victim, identified as 15-year-old Zachary Gonzalez, was struck and killed along Route 13 while riding his bike with his friends. The incident took place 3 months ago, but police tape still marks the spot where the incident took place.

Since the DA’s office says that it cannot charge the suspect in the teen’s death, the grief of the victim’s family is turning into rage.

Sarah Hughes, the mother of the second victim injured in the crash said, “After two children went over your windshield that’s what you cared about? And the DA doesn’t think that’s enough evidence.”

The drunk driver allegedly struck her son Jeffrey, and his friend Gonzalez, as they rode their bikes along the stretch of Route 13 in Levittown in January.

Jeffrey is still struggling and dealing with the aftermath of the crash and has not given his statement on camera yet.

The offender, identified as 60-year old Brian Patterson, was driving under the influence of prescription drugs and cocaine when he hit the boys. According to the police, he don’t have enough evidence to prove that the drugs were the reason behind the crash.

Matt Hoover, Assistant District Attorney for Bucks County said, ” Multiple witnesses to the crash confirmed the victim entered the road way on his bicycle and the defendant did not have any time to react and avoid the crash.”

Patterson was located at his home by Fox 29, but he refused to talk about the crash. They also found that Patterson had a history of drug and DUI charges, which date back up to 15 years. Patterson has also pleaded guilty to driving while his operating privileges were suspended. This happened just a week before the January crash.

“He hit somebody and they’re no longer here. And he hurt my child and that’s not ok and I want to know why he’s not getting charged with that,” Hughes said.

If Patterson is convicted, he will face a mandatory 3-day jail sentence and up to one year in prison for each of the two drug possession charges.

News Source: www.MyFoxPhilly.com

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