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Former Pa. Rep. Joe Brennan Sentenced To 90 Days in Prison

Former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Brennan pleads guilty to DUI and simple assault but gets probation for simple assault.

A Lehigh County judge sentenced former State Representative Joe Brennan to a mandatory 90 days in prison Thursday after he pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of alchohol.

Judge Maria Dantos also sentenced Brennan to 18 months' probation for simple assault stemming from the same incident when he struck his wife on Aug. 15 at their Fountain Hill home before driving away drunk. His blood-alcohol content measured 0.22 percent. The state's legal limit is 0.08 percent.

Brennan, who must also pay a $1,500 fine, will begin serving his sentence Monday in Lehigh County Prison.

Assistant District Attorney Stephen VanNatten said Brennan's wife, who did not attend the sentencing, did not want her husband to serve time in prison.

"She is going through a tough time and raising their two children on her own," he said.

Brennan, 48, who had asked to serve his sentence under house arrest in Dauphin County where he now lives, argued serving time in prison could jeopardize his new job, future employment and provide financial hardship.

"It's a hardship for every defendant who stands before me," Dantos said.

Dantos, who said it was a difficult case to sentence, said she would not generally give probation on an assault, but acknowledged the wife's request and Brennan's years of public service. Brennan will begin serving his 18-month probation in Lehigh County after he completes his prison term.

Dantos acknowledged Brennan's battle with alcoholism as a "lifetime problem and addiction" but that he "was well-equipped to secure treatment."

In imposing a prison sentence of a minimum of 90 days to 23 months maximum, Dantos said she must follow mandatory sentencing guidelines.

Staberdearth January 04, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Politi-privileged, addicted, angry boy meets real world, objective, wizened judge... The set up for an analyst job by his cronies was a sham in any case. Thank you, Judge Dantos!
Rich Cranium January 04, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Jail time for a DUI but beating your wife is apparently ok... you just get probation for that. If it were up to me he would be spending those 18 months in jail for the assault
Rachel Thompson January 04, 2013 at 02:19 PM
He got off to easy. His public service got him a pass card? It should be the other way around. And how stupid is she? The guy is a mean drunk, take the kids and run while he's in jail.
Cate Shea January 04, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Yes, he is an alcoholic. He is addicted to alcohol. That is a severe,progressive illness. Sentencing him to jail is irrelevant to the problem. He needs to be sentenced to a strict rehab program. What is wrong with Pennsylvania's court system? When a person I know in Georgia threatened someone else with a knife, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, that person spent the night in jail. The next day, at the hearing, that person was sent to rehab (yes, it was a "choice" -- rehab or jail.) That person has not had a drink in more than four years at this point, and has re-entered a productive role in job and family. What exactly does the court hope to accomplish by a sentence of jail? An addict goes to jail an addict, and comes out of jail an addict, to continue the downhill spiral caused by addiction. This is medieval. Wake up, judges.
Sherry Miller January 04, 2013 at 05:33 PM
@rachel, she is not stupid, read the article, they r living seperately!
Staberdearth January 04, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Nonetheless, it is an "illness" that can hurt others. There is a huge distinction. I could have an illness and it not impact others well being per se as alcoholism impacts those around them and their well being, sanity, physical condition, etc. I hear you, but you need to be more specific so that you aren't suspect of excusing it away. Being an alcoholic has its consequences and that the tough part of it. This guy knew where to go for help...for quite some time. Did he?
Joe Brennan January 05, 2013 at 04:19 AM
What does the court hope to accomplish? It's called PUNISHMENT. You may not believe in it, but many of us do. When you do something illegal (again and again), you deserve to be PUNISHED. This guy Brennan has been in and out of rehabs, yet continues to get behind a wheel drunk. The system has ENABLED his behavior, not altered it. Left to his own devices, he'll get drunk behind a state-owned vehicle and run over a child crossing the street. Rehab has failed him, and he has failed rehab. So now he is left watching his life fall apart as he hits rock bottom in jail. Sometimes, that is better than rehab in getting someone straightened out. He has taken advantage of a system that has let him become this way.
Jennifer Moyer January 06, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Somebody with Former Pa. Rep. Joe Brennan's problems should not have gotten to be a legislator. It seems that voters need to know more about the people they elect. Making voting easier for uninformed voters is not likely to result in better government.

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