Plea deal follows Schenectady man's 9th DWI arrest
SCHENECTADY A Schenectady man arrested last year on his ninth lifetime drunken-driving charge — second in the past 10 years — pleaded guilty Monday to a felony driving while intoxicated count, a prosecutor said.
In return for his plea, 55-year-old Kenneth Conner is to go into an intensive treatment program, focusing on both his alcohol problem and some mental health issues, prosecutor Stephanie Hughes said.
The plea also comes with restrictions designed to ensure Conner does not drink alcohol or drive, Hughes said. Conner must wear an alcohol-sensing anklet until further notice of the court. He’ll also be under probation supervision.
The plea Monday also came with potential consequences for Conner if he is found to have violated any of the rules placed on him, Hughes said.
“If he doesn’t do well, the first time of him not following the rules, the judge was very clear he’s going to be going to state prison,” Hughes said.
Key to the deal, Hughes said, was Conner’s attorney, Deborah Slack-Bean, arguing that Conner had never in his earlier cases been placed in court-ordered treatment. Conner has previously been to jail and state prison.
While his arrest last year was his ninth lifetime, those arrests stretched over 34 years. It was his second in the previous 10 years and third since 1996. Drug court and alternative treatment court have only been around for about the past decade.
His eighth drunken-driving arrest came in 2007 in Schenectady. That one also came more than 10 years after his seventh, making the 2007 case a misdemeanor. Current driving while intoxicated law makes a second drunken driving conviction in 10 years a felony.
After his seventh, which resulted in a 1996 felony DWI conviction, Conner was sentenced to one to three years in state prison.
Conner’s ninth DWI arrest came Oct. 17, 2012, when he was pulled over by Rotterdam police on Patton Drive around 8:30 p.m. for an equipment violation, police said.
An officer observed that Conner appeared to be intoxicated and he was found to have a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent — almost twice the legal threshold for intoxication.
Conner also submitted to field sobriety tests, including a Breathalyzer.
Conner’s bail was set then at $10,000. He has been free since shortly after his 2012 arraignment.
Hughes said Conner will be closely monitored during his treatment.
“He’s going to be under an intensive treatment program where he’ll have to report in every day,” Hughes said. “He’ll also be under probation supervision at the same time as drug court supervision.”
Then there is the alcohol-sensing anklet and a device that will be placed on the car that he has access to, his girlfriend’s. The device on the car will prevent it from being driven by a drunk driver. Conner’s license though, is revoked. He may never be eligible for a license again, Hughes said.
Though Conner got his license back after his 2007 conviction, he is now subject to a lifetime review by the DMV, according to regulations instituted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year.
Anyone with five or more alcohol- or drug-related convictions over a lifetime will have their license permanently revoked.
Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago accepted Conner’s plea.