NEW PORT RICHEY — Port Richey City Manager Tom O’Neill made his first appearance in court on a DUI charge this afternoon.
His arraignment was postponed, however, when County Judge Marc H. Salton recused himself from the case. The two know each other personally and are members of the same service organization, said Ron Stuart, spokesman for the Sixth Judicial Circuit.
O’Neill was charged with DUI on Aug. 29 by State Attorney Bernie McCabe, the result of a July 13 incident in which O’Neill was found unconscious behind the wheel of his SUV. The engine was running when authorities found him just before midnight.
Instead of being arrested or charged, O’Neill was taken to North Bay Hospital in Hudson for medical treatment and the incident was classified as a welfare check by New Port Richey Cpl. William Phillips.
McCabe subpoenaed O’Neill’s medical records from that night and the documents revealed a .367 blood alcohol content — more than four times the legal limit. A driver is considered impaired at .08, according to Florida law.
Last week, O’Neill submitted his retirement from his position, but the Port Richey City Council voted on a resolution that allowed him to remain after serving a 30-day unpaid leave, which included substance abuse counseling.