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Pa. man sentenced for series of DUIs

March 24, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A man convicted of his seventh, eighth and ninth driving under the influence offenses was sentenced Wednesday in Franklin County Court to serve time in state prison for those and other offenses.

John W. Swartz, 48, of 38 Mount Rock Road, Shippensburg, Pa., was sentenced to 23 months to 13 years in prison by Judge John R. Walker. In addition to the three drunken driving charges, Swartz pleaded guilty Feb. 23 to causing or risking a catastrophe and fleeing or attempting to elude police.

"This is one of the most egregious DUI cases I've ever seen," Walker said.

Swartz was arrested three times between Sept. 13, 2003, and Feb. 19, 2004, according to court records.

Shippensburg police arrested him in the first instance after his pickup truck struck a fence and he was found asleep behind the wheel, records state.

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On Dec. 15, 2003, he was refused service at Dilly's, 642 Lincoln Way West, and thrown out, according to Chambersburg Police. When police arrived, they found his pickup truck halfway inside the bar and witnesses told police he had rammed the wall several times, police said.

The restitution figure for damage to the building was $14,170, according to Assistant District Attorney John Lisko.

On Feb. 19, 2004, Chambersburg police said they pursued Swartz's pickup for five miles before discontinuing the chase. Pennsylvania State Police later pursued the truck until Swartz lost control and went into a snowbank in a yard, according to court records.

In each case, Swartz's blood alcohol content was between two and three times the legal limit for intoxication of 0.08 percent, court records stated.

Swartz had DUI convictions dating to the 1970s, Walker said, quoting from the sentencing report.

Swartz's attorney, Michael Whare, said his client had not used alcohol since his last arrest 13 months ago and had spent 60 days in an inpatient rehabilitation program. Whare asked Walker to show Swartz mercy and sentence him to the county prison so he could be near his family and continue treatment.

"Go to church for mercy. Go to court for justice," Walker said.

"You can send people to treatment until hell freezes over ... but people have to make that commitment," Walker said.

"I could have put the hammer down a lot harder," Walker said, referring to the harsher sentences he could have given Swartz. Walker gave him two months credit for the time Swartz spent in rehabilitation.

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