Defense attorney opts for rehab program

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A well-known criminal defense attorney facing trial for driving under the influence was given the option of going to a 90-day alcohol rehabilitation program instead.

James P. Sheets, 42, of Bethel Park chose rehab and will go to Greenbrier Treatment Center, said his attorney, Patrick Thomassey.

Mr. Sheets has two outstanding cases, one on charges of DUI and endangering the welfare of children dating to Sept. 18, 2012, before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman, and another for DUI and careless driving from Jan. 18 before Judge Thomas E. Flaherty.

Both of those cases are still pending, and Mr. Thomassey said he hopes they will be resolved once Mr. Sheets completes his rehab program.

In the case before Judge Cashman, Mr. Sheets was accused of DUI, while his 1-year-old daughter, who was secured in her car seat, was with him.

When Mr. Sheets appeared before Judge Cashman on Wednesday, the judge told him he saw him on Monday, and the attorney looked bad, and he said that Mr. Sheets looked even worse in court before him.

He gave Mr. Sheets the option of going to trial or going to rehab. Judge Cashman had Mr. Sheets go with the sheriff's deputies while treatment arrangements were made.

"Judge Cashman did the right thing today," Mr. Thomassey said. "Me and a lot of his colleagues are worried about [Mr. Sheets], and we're going to help him through this."

Mr. Sheets previously worked as an assistant public defender for five years and went into private practice about eight years ago.

"He's battling some demons," Mr. Thomassey said. "It's an example of the pressure of being a criminal defense attorney."

neigh_south

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.


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