- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy pleaded guilty yesterday to driving under the influence of prescription drugs and was sentenced to undergo court-ordered drug treatment and a year of probation.

Mr. Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, also was ordered to pay at least $350 in connection with his middle-of-the-night car crash last month near the Capitol.

Two other charges against Mr. Kennedy were dismissed: reckless driving and failure to exhibit a driving permit.

Accompanied by his attorney, Mr. Kennedy entered his plea yesterday afternoon before Superior Court Magistrate Judge Aida Melendez.

“I am pleading guilty to driving under the influence,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Judge Melendez ordered Mr. Kennedy to undergo court-monitored drug treatment and pay $350 — $250 of which would go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and $100 to a crime victims’ fund. She also gave Mr. Kennedy a 10-day jail sentence that he would serve if he violated the terms of his probation, and she sentenced him to 50 hours of community service with the Boys & Girls Clubs.

“Today in court, I suffered the consequences of my actions,” Mr. Kennedy told reporters outside the courthouse. “I look forward today to moving on to the next chapter in my life.”

Under the terms of his plea deal, Mr. Kennedy must attend weekly meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and a recovery group facilitated by his physician. He must check in with his AA sponsor once a week and submit to random urine screenings.

He also has to meet regularly with a “qualified psychiatrist to monitor mood symptoms, anxiety and use of psychotropic prescription medications,” according to court documents.

Mr. Kennedy was booked on the three charges at Capitol Police headquarters about 12:30 p.m. yesterday, according to police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider.

Mr. Kennedy returned to Congress last week after nearly a month of treatment for addiction to prescription pain drugs at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The six-term congressman, who has struggled with addiction since high school, entered the clinic one day after the May 4 crash on Capitol Hill, which he said he could not remember.

The accident has raised questions about whether Mr. Kennedy, 38, had been drinking and had received special treatment by police, who did not conduct field sobriety tests. He has denied consuming alcohol before the crash.

In the hours before the crash, Mr. Kennedy said he returned home from work and took Ambien, a sleeping pill, and Phenergan, a prescription anti-nausea drug. He said he did not consume alcohol.

Mr. Kennedy crashed his green 1997 Ford Mustang convertible into a security barrier near the Capitol at about 3 a.m. The officer listed alcohol influence as a contributing factor in the crash and noted that Mr. Kennedy was “ability impaired,” with red and watery eyes, slurred speech and unsteady balance, according to the accident report.

Mr. Kennedy told the police officer that he was “headed to the Capitol to make a vote,” the report said.

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