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Ex-Schenectady cop seeks bail on DWI charge; hearing possible next week

Ex-Schenectady cop seeks bail on DWI charge; hearing possible next week

Former city police officer John Lewis finally got bail set Friday in connection with his January dru

Former city police officer John Lewis finally got bail set Friday in connection with his January drunken driving arrest, but he’s still in jail.

It will be at least next week before he can post bail for the first time in nearly four months — if he is allowed to.

Lewis has been held in Schoharie County Jail ever since he was charged with driving while intoxicated. Until then, he had been out on $20,000 bond while he waited for trial on 10 other criminal charges.

Schenectady County Judge Karen Drago revoked that bail when he was arrested in January. It was his sixth arrest in two years, and Drago said she no longer believed he could stay out of trouble, which was the one condition she had imposed when she had granted him bail.

On Friday, Lewis’ attorney asked the court to at least set bail on the latest charge, in which Lewis is accused of driving drunk to Ellis Hospital. Acting Judge Polly Hoye heard the case because Drago is presiding over the trial of another Schenectady police officer, Detective Sherri Barnes.

Prosecutor Michael Tiffany urged Hoye not to release Lewis. He told her that Lewis had not shown up for “numerous” court hearings and had been rearrested in jail for punching a window.

Lewis’ attorney, Michael Horan, said the window incident was going to be adjourned in contemplation of dismissal in Schoharie County. He also argued that Hoye should not hold Lewis’ no-shows against him because he was in treatment at the time.

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.

Tiffany said Lewis was rarely in treatment on his court dates.

“On only one occasion was actual proof provided the defendant was in treatment,” he said.

Horan countered by saying that Lewis had a strong defense in the latest charges. In addition to DWI, he has been charged with driving without a license, but Horan said he had a conditional license. Normally, conditional licenses can be used only to drive to and from work and school. But they can also be used to drive to a hospital for medical treatment, he said.

Tiffany said he’s confident he can prove both charges, but Hoye was convinced by Horan’s argument.

“Bail is appropriate,” she said, noting that the DWI charge is a misdemeanor. But she told Lewis his bail would be revoked if he drank alcohol or drove anywhere. He would also be sent to jail if he’s caught buying or possessing alcohol, she said.

She set bail at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond.

Despite Hoye’s ruling, Lewis still can’t leave jail. He must first get permission to post bond on the 10 other criminal charges for which Drago revoked bail.

Horan is taking that case to Supreme Court Judge Vincent Reilly on Monday. Horan plans to argue that the court must grant Lewis another bail hearing.

“The statute requires that at the end of 90 days, it be reviewed,” he said. “Ninety days was last week. It was not reviewed.”

He said he does not expect Reilly to set bail. Reilly is more likely to order the county court to schedule a bail hearing.

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