Gerard B. Sullivan, 50, of Lincoln, pleaded not guilty Friday morning at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal to refusing to submit to a chemical breath test. That was the first charge he was given by the police the night they arrested him after they said they saw him weaving in and out of lanes, crossing over the double yellow line and turning into the curb on Post Road.
Sullivan, who has been an assistant U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island since 1991, told the arresting officers he knew the Warwick police chief and was a prosecutor, and asked for leniency the night he was arrested.
Added 1-2010: In just moments Monday morning, a drunk-driving charge against a veteran federal prosecutor who had sought leniency from the police when he was arrested Thanksgiving Day was dismissed in District Court, Warwick. The same judge who presided over the criminal case last Tuesday, when the prosecution declined to dismiss the charge against Sullivan, addressed the federal prosecutor Monday. "The state is apparently submitting a dismissal," Judge Frank J. Cenerini began, as he continued to outline the case, saying, "The gentleman was charged with DWI" and then pleaded at the Traffic Tribunal to the charge of refusing to submit to a chemical-breath test. "As is the customary disposition in these matters, the DWI - if there is a refusal submission - is dismissed," Cenerini said. And the matter was over. Sullivan and Bristow walked out of the courtroom and declined to speak with reporters.
The Warwick city solicitor stated "And we were satisfied that he, Mr. Sullivan, got the appropriate punishment through the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, and we just needed to look at a couple documents [to be sure] that any problems Mr. Sullivan may have had were being properly addressed. ... But, certainly, we're satisfied that any issues or problems he may be dealing with were being addressed, so we treated him just like we treat anybody else." City Solicitor Sgroi would not say exactly what those problems or issues may be, but Bristow said at the Traffic Tribunal on Jan. 4 that Sullivan is enrolled in an alcohol-treatment program. Asked if that was what he was referring to, Sgroi replied: "I just want to make sure that we don't have anybody on the road that can endanger anybody else. That's my main concern. I'm confident that won't happen with him. But obviously, I'm not 100 percent sure with any of the defendants, how they will act in the future, but I'm satisfied that everything's under control."
Sgroi said it's his understanding that either a refusal charge or a DUI charge is dropped if someone pleads to the other charge. "Some defendants would rather plead to the DUI and some would rather, for their own reasons, plead for the refusal and opt for the six-month suspension" that is the minimum there, Sgroi said. The minimum suspension in District Court is one month. When Sullivan admitted at the Traffic Tribunal on Jan. 4 that there were sufficient facts to prove he refused the chemical test, he waived his right to a trial there. In accepting his guilty plea, the attorney general's office agreed to drop motor-vehicle violations against Sullivan for not abiding by a laned roadway and not using a turn signal. As part of the plea agreement, Sullivan's driver's license will be suspended for seven months, from the time he surrendered it on Dec. 22.
In the Dec. 2 article about the arrest of assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard Sullivan ("U.S. prosecutor charged over breath test"), Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney is quoted as saying, "I don't think the fact he was a public official had any bearing on the arrest the officers made. He was treated like anybody else." Yeah, right! And I believe in the Easter Bunny. It has long been evident that there is one set of rules for the ruling class employed in government, and another set of rules for us serfs. Another way of saying the same thing is that laws are enforced against the people, but not so much against the ruling class. Ordinary citizens who don't pay their taxes go to prison. Tim Geithner gets appointed treasury secretary. America was never supposed to have an aristocracy. When are the American people going to wake up and realize that they are being played for fools? -- Susan R. Berge Burrillville