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Cronin pleads no contest to DUI; Judge revokes her driver's license



Published: Wed, April 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



She can attend a driver's intervention program instead of going to jail.

BOARDMAN -- As a Mahoning County Common Pleas judge, Maureen Cronin is accustomed to making courtroom decisions.

She made one Tuesday morning, but this time as a defendant in the Mahoning County Area Court in Boardman, where she pleaded no contest to a charge of driving under the influence.

"No contest" means that a defendant agrees to accept punishment without acknowledging guilt.

After Cronin entered her plea, Judge Joseph Houser told her that she would be treated just like any other first-time offender.

Houser found her guilty and revoked her driver's license for 180 days. She also was charged $250 in court costs, sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 177 days suspended and 12 months nonreporting probation. Cronin isn't likely to serve the three-day jail sentence; like all first-time offenders, she can choose to attend a driver's intervention program instead of going to jail.

She can apply for an occupational permit that would allow her to drive to and from work after 15 days.

Cronin, 51, has been on the bench since 1994. Her current term expires next January.

"A judge is not above the law," Cronin said, minutes after she paid her fine and walked out of the building, attorney Samuel G. Amendolara at her side.

"I'm not above the law. I did what I did ... it was a lapse in judgment."

Traffic stop

Cronin was stopped at 11:19 p.m. Thursday after a driver called 911 and told an Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher that he believed the driver in front of him was impaired. The caller stayed on the phone until Trooper Michael Smith arrived and began to follow Cronin's 2002 Pontiac northbound on state Route 625 (Lockwood Boulevard).

The judge said she was driving home Thursday night from Mountaineer Race Track & amp; Gaming Resort in Chester, W.Va., when stopped by an OSHP trooper in Boardman. The judge said she'd had "a couple" of glasses of wine at the gaming resort. She said she refused a breath test at the Canfield post after speaking to her attorney.

"I admitted I had been drinking and said, 'Give me the ticket,'" the judge said Friday.

On Tuesday, she added that she was ready to move forward.

"I'm going to take the punishment," she said. "It's not going to be fun, but it is what it is."




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