After 17 days in jail, former congressman Sweeney completes sentence

Former U.S. congressman John E. Sweeney walked out of the Saratoga County Jail on Friday after servi

Former U.S. congressman John E. Sweeney walked out of the Saratoga County Jail on Friday after serving 17 days of a 30-day sentence for driving while intoxicated.

He left the jail about 7:30 a.m. under a policy in which inmates routinely receive one-third off their sentences for good behavior.

“It’s another step in my life past,” the former 20th District representative said before quickly getting into a tan Saturn sedan driven by a young woman, which then accelerated away.

Sweeney said he was “going home,” but didn’t respond to other questions from gathered reporters and cameramen.

Sweeney, 54, of Clifton Park, admitted in Saratoga County Court in February that he was driving while intoxicated on April 5, 2009, in Clifton Park. He was originally charged with felony DWI because he had also been convicted of misdemeanor DWI in Clifton Park Town Court in 2007, but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

In an unusual move, Sweeney surrendered and started his sentence on April 14, even though his formal sentencing by acting County Court Judge Guy L. Tomlinson didn’t happen until April 23.

Though he is out of jail, Sweeney still faces years of supervised probation.

The first 12 months of probation will include monitoring with an ankle-worn electronic device that can detect any alcohol consumption.

Sweeney will also be without his driver’s license until 2013, and will be forbidden to drive. During the probation period, his vehicle will be required to have an ignition interlock system so the car will not start if the driver has consumed alcohol.

Sweeney, who is a lawyer, also must perform 300 hours of pro bono legal work or other community service.

He was also fined $1,000 and must pay a driver responsibility assessment of $250 a year for three years.

Sweeney , once a rising star on the state and national Republican scene, served in Congress from 1999 to 2007. In November 2006, he was defeated in his bid for re-election by Kirstin Gillibrand, now a U.S. senator.

Since his arrest, Sweeney has gone through treatment for alcohol dependence.

Categories: Schenectady County

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