The chief said he's ashamed of the conviction.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NEWTON FALLS -- Newton Township trustees say a DUI arrest and subsequent conviction on a reckless-operation charge weren't enough to keep them from hiring a 31-year-old man as police chief.
Trustees Peter J. Augusta and Delbert Woloski said Brian Persin's May 2001 conviction is in the past and wasn't considered when they hired him.
Persin became a full-time Newton Township police officer in June 2001 and was promoted to chief earlier this month, Augusta said.
"We knew about the conviction when we hired him as an officer," Woloski said.
Persin said he is ashamed of the matter.
"It's not something that is going to happen again," Persin said. "It was just a mistake I made on my own time. I paid my dues, and I don't drink and drive."
At the time of the crash, Persin worked as a part-time police officer for Newton Falls.
According to municipal court records, Persin, who was not on duty at the time, was driving home from his brother's house April 5 and was heading south on Braceville-Robinson Road when he drove into a ditch.
A friend took Persin to St. Joseph Health Center, where officials called the Ohio State Highway Patrol because they suspected Persin had been drinking.
Reports state that Persin told the trooper he had "two or three beers" after the crash. A blood test taken by hospital personnel showed Persin's blood-alcohol level was 0.192, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.10.
In May that year, Persin's attorney, George Kalafut, was able to get the judge to toss out the blood test results because state law prohibits the use of blood tests taken more than two hours later as evidence, court officials said.
Judge Thomas Old convicted Persin of a reduced charge of reckless operation and gave him a 30-day suspended jail sentence and a $250 fine. The judge also suspended $100 of the fine.
"Brian is a real good guy," said Newton Falls Police Chief Robert Carlson, who was Persin's boss at the time. "He was an excellent officer when he worked for us. We did not have any problems with him at all."
Augusta and Woloski concurred, saying Persin does his work "very well."
The Newton Township Police Department has five employees including the chief. Persin earns $12 an hour, officials said.
"DUIs can happen to everyone," Augusta said.
"I try to judge people on how they act around me and how they get things done, and Brian has been a very good employee and a very good person," Augusta said.