WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) - Robert R. Nichols, a former Blandford selectman, was briefly taken into custody Thursday in Westfield District Court after Judge Rita S. Koenigs found that he had violated probation.
Nichols had, exactly one year prior to Thursday’s proceedings, been placed on probation for one year when he submitted to facts sufficient to warrant a guilty finding for a charge of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs brought by State Police.
The charge resulted from a head-on collision between a SUV driven by Nichols and a school bus occupied by four children who did not suffer any injuries in the crash.
Nichols was found to have been under the influence of at least three prescriptive medications at the time of the accident.
Nichols was in court Thursday for a violation of probation hearing because he had been arrested in Saugus for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor.
Koenigs noted that the standard for a violation of probation had been “amply met” by a .18 blood alcohol determination at the time of his arrest in Saugus and ruled that Nichol’s probation was revoked and a guilty finding was entered.
She said that, with the violation found, the question before her was the appropriate sanction to be imposed.
Koenigs rejected a recommendation that Nichols’ probation be extended for a year with a 14 day in-patient rehabilitation program saying “We’re past probation. He’s not going to be on probation any more.”
Assistant District Attorney Nate Burns offered as an alternative a 127-day term in the Howard Street house of correction where a rehabilitation program is available.
Defense attorney Jill Gately countered with a suggestion of a 10-day term in the house of correction but Burns said “a shorter sentence really doesn’t address the issue” as 127 days is the minimum period which would allow the Howard Street rehabilitation program to be effective.
Gatley said that Nichol’s wife has serious medical issues which preclude her from working so he is the sole support of the family and said he would lose his job if he was sentenced to a 127-day term.
Nichols was taken into custody when Koenigs declared a lunch recess and said she would consider her options during the break.
When court resumed, Koenigs said that she had decided not to incarcerate Nichols and said she would impose a $5,000 fine and a $1,000 surfine.
She ruled that the fine must be paid by Nov. 1 and said that no extensions would be allowed.
Media Credit: The Westfield News