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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Pretrial hearing in DUI case of city manager O’Neill delayed

NEW PORT RICHEY — A pretrial hearing in the DUI case of Port Richey City Manager Tom O’Neill has been rescheduled for Jan.  27.

The hearing had been set for Tuesday, but O’Neill’s attorney, Samuel Williams, asked for a continuance and Circuit Judge Anne Wansboro granted it when there was no objection from the state attorney’s office.

O’Neill was not in court Tuesday when Williams made the request on his behalf.

The city manager faces a driving under the influence charge related to a July 13 incident when New Port Richey police discovered O’Neill unconscious behind the wheel of his car.

O’Neill’s blood alcohol content was 0.367, more than four times the legal limit, according to an affidavit a police officer filed that night.

Instead of arresting O’Neill, Cpl. William Phillips reclassified the traffic stop as a “welfare check.” O’Neill was taken to Morton Plant North Bay Hospital.

On Aug. 6, O’Neill said in a phone interview that he was in need of medical attention for chronic conditions.

On Aug. 29, Pasco-­Pinellas State Attorney Bernie McCabe filed the DUI charge, a first-degree misdemeanor. That led Port Richey City Council members to call a special meeting Sept. 4 about disciplinary action.

O’Neill was suspended from his job for 30 days, beginning Nov. 2. He is back on the job now, and at last week’s city council meeting he faced questions from the council about counseling sessions he must complete as part of the terms of his suspension.

O’Neill told officials he had gone beyond what the council had asked in seeking help for substance abuse, at his own expense.

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