Racine County District Attorney Rich Chiapete Thursday plead guilty to three municipal citations against him, putting the drunk driving case against him to rest.

Chiapete was cited for operating while intoxicated, first offense and hit and run after he hit a tree and a traffic signal at the intersection of Melvin and Main Streets Friday night while driving home after a friend’s birthday party. On Thursday, he was also issued a citation for obstruction because he lied about his involvement in the crash when officers first questioned him, according to a story in The Journal Times.

Our friends at Racine Uncovered posted a press release from the City Attorney’s office detailing the settlement Chiapete reached with the city.

In exchange for his guilty plea, Chiapete was fined $1,205 and will have his license revoked for a year. When he does drive, he will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed for a year. The agreement was filed with Racine Municipal Court, but Kenosha Municipal Judge Michael Easton has not yet reviewed the settlement. Easton was appointed to the case after Racine Municipal Judge Mark Nielsen recused himself.

Easton has the discretion to approve or reject the settlement.

The accident was reported to dispatch at 10:04 p.m. at the intersection of Melvin and Main Streets in the City of Racine as a vehicle vs. traffic pole, according to a press release from the Racine Police Department. A tree was also struck.

When officers arrived, they found a 2004 Volkswagon but not the driver. Police determined the driver was Chiapete, so they went to his home where they placed him under arrest for first offense OWI and cited him for “duty upon striking property, also referred to as hit & run on/or adjacent to highway,” the release continues.

Chiapete released a statement Saturday, saying he took full responsibility for exercising “extremely poor judgment on many levels.”

Because this is Chiapete’s first offense for both the OWI and the hit and run charges, and the accident did not involve other parties or any injuries, officers had the discretion to issue citations instead of elevating the charges to a state level.

Still RPD Chief Art Howell asked Wisconsin State Patrol to review the case to be sure his officers handled the situation appropriately. State Patrol investigators Tuesday determined that officers acted impartially.

Everything looked to be handled on the up and up,” State Patrol Lt. Rich Reichenberger is quoted as saying in The Journal Times.


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