September 18, 2014

Elyria
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Dog warden takes deal in DUI arrest

LORAIN — Lorain City Dog Warden Michael Mattei took a plea deal Thursday that will keep a drunken driving conviction off his record.

Mattei pleaded no contest to charges of reckless operation, failure to control and physical control and was fined $850.
In exchange for his plea, Elyria City Prosecutor Jay Grunda, who served as special prosecutor on the case, dropped DUI charges against the 30-year-old dog warden.

Mattei was arrested April 4 after he called police and told them he sideswiped a guardrail while turning left on Jaeger Road from Kolbe Road in his 2007 Honda.

When officers arrived at his Estelle Avenue home, they smelled alcohol on Mattei and administered a breath test, which determined he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.116 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

But Grunda said that because the test was administered after Mattei returned home, he could not establish a timeline that would show that he was drunk when he hit the guardrail. Mattei, he said, could have consumed alcohol after he reached his house. Rather than gamble on a judge throwing out the case because of the problems with the Breathalyzer test, Grunda said he chose to offer a plea deal.

“It was better to hold him accountable,” he said.

Defense attorney Mike Duff said Mattei also received a 90-day driver’s license suspension, but that ended Thursday because his client’s license has been suspended since his arrest. Mattei had work driving privileges during that suspension, Duff said.

“He’s glad it’s over and behind him,” Duff said.

Lorain Safety Director Phil Dore said Mattei, who took vacation after his arrest before returning to work, won’t face punishment from the city.

“What he did on his off time has no impact on his job,” Dore said. As a civil service employee, Mattei doesn’t fall under Mayor Tony Krasienko’s personal staff and wouldn’t be subject to Krasienko’s edict that he would fire any of his employees convicted of a crime.

“We couldn’t fire him if we wanted to,” Dore said.

Mattei was the third city official to face a DUI charge in the past year. Councilman Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward, pleaded no contest to charges after he was arrested for trying to pick up a prostitute while drunk.

And former Law Director Mark Provenza resigned from his longtime job after he was ordered back to jail one day after he was released from serving a 90-day jail sentence for ramming a Lakewood home with his wife’s minivan while drunk.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.