Pittsfield man, 48, to serve 9 months in jail, probation for third OUI

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PITTSFIELD >> A city man received a split sentence Friday after pleading guilty to a third charge of operating under the influence and a charge of negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

James Cooney, 48, of New Hampshire Avenue, received a 2 1/2 year jail sentence following his plea in Central Berkshire District Court before Judge William Rota. Nine months of that sentence will be served directly and the balance will be suspended for two years while Cooney serves probation.

Cooney admitted being intoxicated behind the wheel on Dec. 9, when he struck one vehicle in Pittsfield before continuing on to Dalton, where he smashed the vehicle he was driving into a telephone pole, severing it in half.

Rota said it was a "miracle" no one was injured that evening.

Cooney was ordered held without bail following a dangerousness hearing in mid-December.

Cooney also admitted he had two prior OUI convictions and violated the probation conditions attached to the latter one.

In arguing for a lighter sentence, Cooney's attorney, Robert Fuster, said an extended stay in jail would jeopardize his family's insurance coverage and a scholarship opportunity for a family member due to his being unavailable to work during that time.

Rota acknowledged there were often unintended collateral consequences due to a person being incarcerated but said, "There is one person in this room who is responsible, and that's Mr. Cooney."

Due to his previous violation of probation, a representative of the Probation Department told Rota they did not feel Cooney was a good candidate for a straight probation sentence.

Cooney will serve his sentence at the Berkshire Jail and House of Correction and will receive credit for 35 days of time already served in custody.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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