Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port Richey city manager pleads no contest to DUI charge

NEW PORT RICHEY — Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill avoided jail time on Monday after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge.

Police found O'Neill, 60, asleep at the wheel of his Ford Escape idling in the middle of Astor Drive on July 13. He could not perform field sobriety exercises, got a ride to a hospital in an ambulance but was not investigated further for DUI. Blood tests from the hospital later revealed his blood-alcohol level was 0.367. Florida law presumes a driver impaired with a level of 0.08.

On Monday, Pasco County Judge Anne Wansboro sentenced O'Neill to a year of probation, fines and some restrictions on his daily life.

This was O'Neill's second DUI arrest, a fact prosecutor Chris Labruz­zo asked the judge to consider when sentencing. The state did not ask for a specific punishment.

O'Neill's lawyer, Sam Williams, said O'Neill sought treatment for alcohol after his arrest, but his main issue was stress management.

Wansboro also imposed a curfew of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., with exceptions for work, treatment or counseling. O'Neill's driver's license was revoked for six months, and his car will be impounded for 10 days. His car will be fitted with an instrument that tests his breath for alcohol before it starts, for one year. He will also have to continue his alcohol treatment meetings, which Williams said he attends regularly.

O'Neill is the former city manager of neighboring New Port Richey. An officer from that city's police department discovered the idling SUV on Astor Drive and recognized the driver as O'Neill. Other departments were called in "to avoid the appearance or potential conflict of interest" in the incident, which was classified as a "welfare check."

A police dash cam video showed O'Neill emerge from the driver's seat with the help of paramedics who walked him to the back bumper. The officer asked O'Neill to perform field sobriety exercises, but O'Neill was unable to. He wouldn't say whether he'd been drinking.

He was taken to a hospital that night but wasn't investigated further for DUI. An officer drove his car home for him.

Later, after a Tampa Bay Times story about the incident, the State Attorney's Office opened an investigation. O'Neill was charged with DUI on Aug. 29.

He was suspended from work for 30 days after the incident.

O'Neill was charged with his first DUI in August 1996. He pleaded no contest, court records show. He was sentenced to six months' probation, community service and DUI school.

After Monday's sentencing, O'Neill was fingerprinted and then walked with his lawyer to the misdemeanor probation office at the courthouse. He declined to comment.

Port Richey city manager pleads no contest to DUI charge 01/27/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 27, 2014 10:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter

    Blogs

    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle