Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mayor in Venezia Case Remains Free after Drunken-Driving Charge

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mayor in Venezia Case Remains Free after Drunken-Driving Charge

Article excerpt

A federal judge refused to jail Mayor Sylvester Jackson of Washington Park on Friday, even though the judge said he believed Jackson had violated his bond by drinking alcohol while awaiting sentencing for racketeering.

U.S. District Judge William D. Stiehl of Southern Illinois said revoking Jackson's $250,000 bond and jailing him was unnecessary to protect others or ensure that Jackson would appear for sentencing in February.

But Stiehl said the drunken-driving charge filed against Jackson Nov. 4 justified ordering him not to drive anymore.

Jackson, 45, faces up to five years in prison. He pleaded guilty of racketeering for accepting bribes to protect gambling that prosecutors say was operated by Thomas Venezia of Belleville.

Venezia and three others are being tried before Stiehl on charges of gambling and racketeering in a scheme using video machines at taverns that illegally paid off winners.

In the hearing Friday, Jackson's attorney, David Fahrenkamp, said he was seeking evidence to support his belief that Jackson's 10-year history of diabetes in combination with two cocktails he drank could have caused an artificially high blood-alcohol reading of .19 percent.

That reading was the basis of the DUI charge against Jackson filed by police in O'Fallon, Ill., after they found him apparently unconscious in his car.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Miriam Miquelon asked Stiehl to revoke or alter Jackson's bond because he had committed another crime and used alcohol excessively.

But Jackson testified Friday that he had drunk nonalcoholic beer and only two highballs before driving home that night. He said he did not believe those drinks could have caused the blood-alcohol reading of .19 percent, almost twice the .10 percent legal level of intoxication in Illinois.

Stiehl joked that he had never drunk nonalcoholic beer, so he was unsure whether it could cause the odor cited by police who arrested Jackson. …

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