by Ivan Foley
Saying prosecutors could not acquire the necessary certified documentation from the state of New York on her previous alcohol-related offenses, a special prosecutor lowered the DWI charge against Platte County’s human resources director from felony status to a misdemeanor.
Mary Robinson, the county’s HR director since 2009, then pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge in court Wednesday morning.
She was arrested at a DWI checkpoint in Platte City in late June. Authorities said her blood alcohol content was .174, which is more than twice the legal limit of .08.
Under the plea deal in what is termed a Class B misdemeanor, Robinson was sentenced to 180 days in jail but that portion of the sentence was suspended. Instead of reporting to jail, she is placed on supervised probation for two years. Conditions of the probation include 120 days of SCRAMX, which is an alcohol-monitoring program with a GPS locator.
SCRAM consists of an electronic alcohol-sensing bracelet. The X adds the GPS locator factor.
“Basically it is house arrest for the first 120 days of her probation,” says Mark Ferguson, Robinson’s attorney. Robinson is still allowed to go to work, he said.
Robinson was also ordered to complete a Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP), which Ferguson said she has already done. SATOP is a weekend or evening course. She must complete a victim impact panel, which Ferguson said is an hour and a half class.
Judge Rex Gabbert with the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District was brought into hear the Robinson case after all Platte County judges were recused.
Gabbert told Robinson in the courtroom on Wednesday morning that her probation will be taken seriously.
“If you test positive (for alcohol) you will do those 180 days in jail,” Gabbert said to her, explaining that a violation of her probation would not be tolerated by the court.
Though her arrest was on June 27, charges were not filed until Aug. 20. At the time, The Landmark was told by a representative of the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office that the delay was due to prosecutors waiting on documentation “from another jurisdiction” to know how to “stage” the charges.
According to a statement of probable cause filed with the felony charge, authorities said background investigation revealed Robinson has had at least three previous DWI offenses.
Court documents say Robinson has three DWI convictions in the state of New York under the last name of Dolan.
Court documents that were filed with the felony charge indicate Robinson has a conviction of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in Dover Plain, NY in 1988; a DWI in Colony Town, NY in 1999; and a DWI conviction in East Greenbush Town, NY in 2001.
Luke Yager, an assistant prosecutor in the office of outgoing Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley, declined the chance to comment after Wednesday morning’s hearing.
Yager handled the appearance for the special prosecutor on Wednesday. Earlier hearings had been handled by Joe Van Amburg, an assistant Cass County prosecutor who is the son of James Van Amburg, presiding judge of Platte County Circuit Court.
Asked if the state had not acquired that documentation why the felony charge was filed originally, Yager declined comment.
Asked why it took four months after the filing of the felony charge to realize the state apparently did not have the documentation to proceed with the charge it had filed, Yager again declined to comment. He referred questions to Georgia Sanders, the press liaison for the Cass County prosecutor’s office.
Sanders had not returned Landmark calls at press time.
Ferguson, Robinson’s defense attorney reached by The Landmark later Wednesday morning, said:
“We were able to show they didn’t have triple authenticated records from New York,” on Robinson’s previous DWI offenses that had been outlined in the statement of probable cause filed along with the felony charge.
Asked what a “triple authentication” of those New York records means, Ferguson said it would be a document the “judge, clerk, everybody has to notarize to give an official seal that the record is verified as accurate.”
Robinson, 43, is the wife of Kevin Robinson, the Platte County auditor. She earns an annual salary of $61,700 in her role as HR director.
The HR director reports directly to the county commission. Commissioners have issued no significant disciplinary action since her arrest. The county did suspend her privilege of driving county vehicles, but Robinson told The Landmark in a brief interview that she “has never driven a county vehicle” in her time with the county.