Police officer John Lewis was sent back to jail Friday without bail after his attorney unsuccessfully argued that Lewis is being persecuted by city police.
Lewis has been in jail for two months, ever since he was charged with DWI on Jan. 25. The arrest violated the only condition of his previous bail: that he stay out of trouble.
In the new bail application, his attorney argued that Lewis shouldn’t be penalized for the DWI arrest, his sixth arrest in two years.
“He’s in a unique environment here in Schenectady,” attorney Michael Horan said. “Being arrested is something most people have control over. He gets arrested every time he jaywalks.”
He then suggested that city police are deliberately targeting their colleague in an effort to keep him in jail.
“I think this arrest is an attempt to knowingly violate him,” Horan said.
Prosecutor Christina Tremante-Pelham vehemently objected.
“I don’t know what he’s trying to suggest,” she said. “To say he gets arrested every time he jaywalks?”
She told Drago that there is video footage of the alleged DWI. Lewis is accused of driving drunk and crashing into another car in the Ellis Hospital parking lot.
Horan disputed that, saying it is a weak case. He also noted that Lewis was recently acquitted in another case, also involving allegations of DWI. In that case, police did not perform field sobriety tests or ask Lewis to take a Breathalyzer test. They drove him home instead.
“He has been arrested five or six times. He has not been convicted,” Horan said.
But Horan went on to admit that Lewis has a problem with alcohol.
“I know the court is concerned, because of his drinking, Mr. Lewis is going to go out and hurt himself or someone else,” Horan said.
He suggested that Drago assign Lewis to treatment. Lewis attended inpatient and outpatient treatment for alcoholism last year, during which time he was arrested four times and charged with several alcohol-related crimes.
“Get him into treatment rather that just sitting in jail,” Horan said.
He proposed Drago also set a curfew or create other conditions that might keep Lewis from driving drunk.
Drago rejected all of his suggestions.
“You’re saying impose a bunch of conditions? He couldn’t even abide by the one condition I imposed in December,” Drago said.
She addressed Lewis personally, telling him she’d been lenient when she allowed him out on bail in December.
“Quite frankly, $20,000 cash or secure bond was a gift,” she said. “I told you, ‘Do not get re-arrested.’ I didn’t say, ‘Pick and choose, if you get rearrested for this crime, I won’t consider it.’ ”
In arguing against bail, Tremante-Pelham told Drago that Lewis has now been indicted in the Jan. 25 incident. That indictment has not yet been unsealed.
She also said that Lewis is facing a federal weapons investigation by the ATF regarding his possession of firearms.
“That investigation is nearing its conclusion,” she said.
Horan called the investigation “hearsay,” noting that ATF has been looking into the matter for two months and has not yet released any results.
Drago agreed that the matter could not be used to consider Lewis’ bail application.
Horan asked her to consider the fact that Lewis has not seen his young son since December. He also owns a house.
“He has property to take care of. He has taxes to file,” Horan said.
Drago wasn’t convinced. She denied bail, saying nothing had changed since the day she revoked it.