STPUD president avoids jail time regarding September ’09 incident
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – South Tahoe Public Utility District Board President Dale Rise will avoid jail time for a September 2009 incident where he resisted police officers responding to a report of a domestic disturbance at his South Lake Tahoe home.
El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury on Friday sentenced Rise to three years summary court probation, 500 hours of community service, a $2,250 fine and a 52 weeks batterers’ treatment program in response to Rise’s no contest plea to three misdemeanor counts of resisting a police officer on Sept. 2.
Rise said he made the decision to plead to the misdemeanor charges about two weeks ago. He said he chose not to go to trial “to get it over with” for his daughter.
Prosecutors originally filed felony resisting police charges against Rise because of the incident, during which he struggled with three South Lake Tahoe police officers in the entryway of his home. Police responded there following the report of a verbal argument between Rise and his wife, Donna, on Sept. 28, 2009.
Prosecutors reduced the felony counts to misdemeanors as part of standard plea negotiations with defense attorney William Cole, said Deputy District Attorney Peter O’Hara.
Reducing the severity of the charges made sense because of Rise’s lack of a criminal history, O’Hara said.
“I thought it was fair and appropriate,” O’Hara said of the sentence imposed by Kingsbury.
Rise apologized to police officers after being placed in the back of a police car the morning of the incident, according to police reports.
Rise’s attorney, William Cole, also struck on conciliatory note on his behalf during Friday’s sentencing hearing.
“He understands he has to pay,” Cole said. “He made a mistake.”
Eight people spoke on Rise’s behalf during the hearing, including fellow utility district board member Mary Lou Mosbacher.
Former board member Ernie Claudio asked for leniency because of Rise’s community involvement.
“I would ask that the court today take into consideration that he has given quite a bit to the community,” Claudio said.
Because Rise was not convicted of a felony, he will still be able to serve on the utility district’s board, said Dennis Cocking, district spokesman.
During sentencing, Kingsbury said elected officials are held to a higher standard by the public and called Rise’s behavior that night “stupid” and “completely inappropriate.”
Domestic disturbance situations are often the most dangerous for police, and Kingsbury said the whole incident would likely have been avoided if Rise allowed officers to enter his home and see that its occupants were safe.
Kingsbury declined to give Rise the 120-day suspended sentence asked for by O’Hara, but said that if he gets in trouble again she will not be as lenient.
Rise received the same treatment as anyone else would in his situation, Kingsbury said.
The judge said she expected Rise to successfully complete the informal probation and be a role model to other people in the year-long treatment program.