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Hagerstown man sentenced for crashing pickup into Funkstown lounge

July 14, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • In this file photo, firefighters work outside Mitzi's Lounge at 48 Frederick Road in Funkstown. The club was hit by a Ford F-250. James Charles Walling was sentenced Thursday to one year in jail for crashing a pickup truck into Mitzi's Lounge in Funkstown last year.
Herald-Mail file photo

A Washington County Circuit Court judge Thursday sentenced a Hagerstown man with previous drunken-driving convictions to one year in jail for crashing a pickup truck into Mitzi's Lounge in Funkstown last year.

Judge Donald E. Beachley sentenced James Charles Walling, 43, of 849 Frederick St., to the jail term after he pleaded guilty to driving while impaired by alcohol, but suspended an 18-month state prison sentence for possession of cocaine.

In exchange for the plea agreement, charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, reckless driving, negligent driving, failure to remain at the scene of an accident and several motor vehicle charges were dismissed, according to court records.

Shortly after 2 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2010, Washington County sheriff's deputies went to Mitzi's Lounge at 48 Frederick Road for a report of an accident.

When they arrived, they found a Ford F-250 had crashed into and destroyed a brick wall at the business, according to the statement of probable cause. A parked car at the club had also sustained damage.

The pickup was registered to Walling, and he was found walking nearby, the charging documents said. At first he told a deputy the truck had been stolen, but then said he "picked up a stripper named 'Cruise,' and she was driving at the time of the accident," the documents said.

He told the deputy he tried to back the vehicle up afterward, but it would not move, the documents said.

Deputies were unable to find the woman Walling claimed had been driving. Walling also had a revoked driver's license, the documents said.

A small amount of cocaine was found on Walling after his arrest, the documents said.

"I want him to go to jail and do his time because he might kill someone," owner Mitzi Pierpoint told Beachley.

Pierpoint said she has not yet been paid for the more than $38,000 in damage Walling caused to the building that houses her exotic dance club.

Assistant State's Attorney Christopher McCormack said Walling had at least four previous alcohol-related driving convictions on his record.

"I'd like to tell Mitzi I'm sorry .... I'm glad I didn't kill anybody," Walling said.

Walling told Beachley he is currently being held on $250,000 bond on unrelated charges of violating a protective order and second-degree assault.

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