Pirates president Coonelly apologizes for drunken driving arrest

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates president Frank Coonelly issued an apology Thursday for his arrest in December for drunken driving in Ross.

Coonelly, 51, was arrested Dec. 22 and charged with driving under the influence, driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving the wrong way and careless driving, according to Allegheny County court records. The charge of driving with a suspended license or revoked license was withdrawn. He was released on his own recognizance.

He waived his right to a preliminary hearing that was scheduled for Feb. 1, and a formal arraignment is scheduled March 20.

"My actions that evening were irresponsible and wrong," Coonelly said in a statement. "I take full and sole responsibility for them. There is no excuse for ever driving under the influence of alcohol. My wife and I have preached to our children about the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol, not only for themselves but for the innocent drivers, passengers and pedestrians on the road."

Coonelly plans to enter the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which allows first-time offenders to avoid a trial and have their charges dismissed if they complete certain requirements, said Robert Del Greco, Coonelly's attorney. Coonelly's license will be suspended and he will attend alcohol educations classes in addition to working with a counselor, Del Greco said.

"I assure that he'll be treated the same way that any other person is treated under his factual scenario," the attorney said. "As indicated in his heartfelt statement, Mr. Coonelly regrets his actions and accepts full responsibility for his conduct. ... He intends on fully complying with all of the conditions of the program."

In the same statement, principal owner and chairman of the board Bob Nutting said he was glad nobody was injured in the incident and that Coonelly's actions did not reflect his character.

"Frank called me immediately to personally apologize for the mistakes he had made," Nutting said. "I expressed my extreme disappointment in his actions. I know that, through our discussion, he clearly understands the seriousness of his poor decisions, the harm that could have been inflicted on others and the embarrassment his mistakes have caused the organization."

"I have personally apologized to my wife and children, to Bob Nutting and to all of those at the Pirates organization who work so tirelessly for the Club," Coonelly said. "I would also like to apologize to all of the fans and friends of the Pittsburgh Pirates. My conduct that night was uncharacteristic to my personally held values and not who I am."

Coonelly arrived at the Pirates' spring training facility Thursday. Nutting is expected to address the team this weekend.

Staff writer Liz Navratil contributed to this story.


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