Vol. 15 Issue No. 3 | January 21 – 27, 2009

Parents responsible for misconduct of under-18 drivers

By Linda Bentley | January 21, 2009

‘To a third party or juror, it still looks like you’re stealing’

CAVE CREEK – Just two weeks shy of his 17th birthday, M.O. was pulled over in Cave Creek for making an unsafe lane change when it was also noted he was driving with only an instruction permit and no adult beside him in the vehicle. The citation didn’t end there.

M.O. was also charged with driving in violation of restrictions, not having a valid license, driving with a suspended, revoked or cancelled license, and for failure to provide proof of financial responsibility.

In Arizona, a person must be 18 to obtain a class D or operator license.

At 15 years and six months, a graduated instruction permit may be obtained, which requires being accompanied by an adult with a class D or commercial license who is at least 21 years of age.

A graduated instruction permit is good for 12 months.

M.O. appeared in court last Friday with his mother to address his litany of traffic offenses. However, the punishment fell pretty much all on M.O.’s mother, who had to negotiate his plea deal with the prosecutor, sign the papers, agree to pay the fines and fill out the paperwork for time payments.

It will be another eight months before M.O. turns 18 and becomes legally responsible.

Also under age, but, at 19, a legal adult, James Kalscheur pled guilty to being an underage driver consuming alcohol.

Kalscheur was fined $520, ordered to attend the alcohol screening program for minors and was informed he would have a two-year restriction imposed on his license.

Ryan Dennehy, who is still several months shy of his 21st birthday, pled guilty to underage consumption.

He told Judge George Preston he had a beer before driving his friend home.

When Preston asked if he worked or went to school, Dennehy stated he works at Safeway at Tatum and Greenway in the deli department.

Dennehy was fined $370 and ordered to attend an underage drinking program.

Craig Berke entered into a plea agreement on a town code violation for excess litter on his property.

Looking at pictures taken of Berke’s property that day, Preston said, “It looks like you have a whole dumpster full of stuff on what looks like pretty nice desert property.”

Berke said he’d been cleaning it up and had just a little bit more to do.

Preston fined Berke $520 and explained he had 25 days to clean the rest up and bring it into compliance.

Berke said, “My understanding is it had to be cleaned up from view of the street,” and asked if he could do community service work in lieu of paying the fine.

Preston said he wasn’t going to get involved in the details of what he needed to do to bring his property into compliance and told Berke half his fine, $260, was eligible to be offset by community service.

Thomas Mack was cited for illegal dumping when he dumped two bags of household trash in a dumpster at Home Depot without realizing the dumpster was for paper only.

Mack explained he immediately removed the garbage and disposed of it properly at the time he was cited.

He entered into what Preston called a “pocket plea,” meaning Mack admitted being guilty of the offense but because he became compliant, the court would withhold judgment.

Attorney Tom Rawles appeared on behalf of Gary and Jeri Rust for charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with a government operation, stemming from an altercation they had with former Deputy Marshal Bobby Hernandez, who was attempting to confiscate a sign from their private property that he claimed violated the town’s sign ordinance, without first issuing a written citation, which is also required by the ordinance. Their case is now set for a bench trial on March 20 before Judge Pro-tem Michael Wells.

Angela Burke, who appeared with Attorney Ken Bemis, reviewed the charges against her with Town Prosecutor Mark Iacovino.

Bemis was under the impression the charges for theft and making a false report against Burke were duplications of the theft and false report charges pending against Burke in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Although Iacovino noted the false report charge was apparently duplicated by the county attorney’s office, he said the theft charge was a different charge.

Burke explained to Iacovino that no one at the Cracked Crab, where she worked, was aware the business was going under and said since she was authorized to use the owner’s credit card, she used it to pay what he owed her.

Iacovino, reviewing her file, said, “I don’t even want to know what the justification was … the evidence against you, to a third party or a juror, it still looks like you’re stealing.”

Burke explained the situation at the Cracked Crab to Iacovino, stating, “We were like family,” and said, the owner, Bob Haas, “paid us cash at times just to keep everyone quiet.”

After reiterating the evidence against Burke looked and smelled like fraud, Iacovino looked at Bemis and asked, “What are we going to do today?”

Iacovino agreed to continue the case until Feb. 20 so Bemis could contact the county attorney’s office to deal with the duplicated false report charge.