- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

GRETNA, La. (AP) - The 44-year-old son of former Lt. Gov. Melinda Schwegmann will get a new trial after a Jefferson Parish judge dismissed his most recent impaired-driving conviction.

John G. Schwegmann, of Metairie, was convicted Jan. 27 of fourth-or-subsequent-offense impaired driving. He was arrested last year after an off-duty sheriff’s deputy spotted him sleeping behind the wheel of his truck outside an apartment complex.

NOLA.com ‘ The Times-Picayune reports (https://bit.ly/1kpQzCv) Schwegmann performed poorly in a field sobriety test. Tests later confirmed he had no alcohol in his system, but prosecutors alleged he improperly took his legally prescribed medicines.

State District Judge John Molaison found Schwegmann guilty. In light of his drunken-driving history, Schwegmann faced at least 10 years in prison.

But after hearing additional testimony from Schwegmann’s wife, Donna, and his mother, Molaison ordered a new trial. In effect, Schwegmann’s new attorneys said, they provided Molaison with new evidence that was unavailable before the trial in January, as well as a defense to the charge.

Because the case is still open, First Assistant District Attorney Steve Wimblery would not comment.

Schwegmann, whose family was known to generations of New Orleans area residents for their now-defunct grocery chain and their involvement in state politics, remains jailed at least until his next court appearance, set for April 7, court records show.

A new trial date has not been set. Molaison set a $250,000 bond. If released, he would be confined to house arrest and subject to an alcohol monitoring system, records show.

A state probation officer, meanwhile, has filed papers seeking to have Schwegmann’s probation revoked in a 2009 case, because of his arrest last year. Schwegmann gave up his driver’s license last year and moved in with his parents to be under house arrest, records show. He is scheduled to appear in court in May.

Schwegmann’s father, John, was a member of the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities. His grandfather was a member of the Legislature in the 1960s and 1970s before he was elected to the PSC.

His family involvement in groceries dates to 1869, and the chain bearing the family name grew to become a household name in the New Orleans area, until the business folded in the 1990s.

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Information from: The Times-Picayune, https://www.nola.com

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