PORT RICHEY — City Manager Tom O'Neill has begun a suspension imposed by the city council after the State Attorney's Office charged him in August with driving under the influence.
The council voted to suspend O'Neill for 30 days and he agreed to enter substance abuse treatment. The board opted to delay the suspension until Nov. 4 in order for the city to complete its budget and hold hearings on a water rate increase which recently passed.
O'Neill did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story, but Assistant City Manager Jocilyn Martinez, who is running the city until O'Neill's return, said she is looking to keep operations moving forward.
"We've made a lot progress while Tom has been city manager, so we want to keep that going," she said.
Meanwhile, O'Neill's court case is also progressing. He pleaded not guilty to the DUI charge in September and is scheduled for a pre-trial conference Dec. 17, according to court records.
A State Attorney's Office report released Aug. 29 stated O'Neill had a blood alcohol level of 0.367 — more than four times the level Florida law presumes a driver is impaired — after he was taken to the hospital on July 13 when a New Port Richey police officer found him asleep behind the wheel of his sport utility vehicle.
Police did not follow through with a DUI investigation, but prosecutors took up the case after a dashboard camera video of the incident surfaced showing O'Neill with his arms draped over paramedics' shoulders as he was helped to the back of his SUV. He was unable to perform sobriety tests at the scene, according to the police report.