McKeesport city solicitor pleads guilty to DUI charges
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McKeesport solicitor J. Jason Elash pleaded guilty Monday to charges stemming from a January 2012 car crash.
Mr. Elash, 41, was charged with driving under the influence and speeding after he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a McKeesport building after attending Mayor Mike Cherepko's inaugural ball at the McKeesport Palisades.
Mr. Elash, who arrived in court wearing a gray suit and taking swigs from a small plastic jug of iced tea, pleaded guilty before Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Borkowski. Mr. Elash's attorney, Anthony DeLuca, said the charge was reduced to a lesser degree of DUI, allowing a lower mandatory punishment of 30 days of incarceration, a $750 fine and a one-year driver's license suspension. The January 2012 charge was Mr. Elash's second DUI charge.
Mr. Elash and Mr. DeLuca declined to comment on whether the plea would affect Mr. Elash's employment as McKeesport's solicitor.
Council president Darryl Segina said he asked Mr. Cherepko to fire Mr. Elash after he was charged, but the mayor refused.
"I think he should resign, or the mayor should fire him," Mr. Segina said Monday.
Mr. Cherepko did not return calls seeking comment.
Lawyers who are convicted of a crime are required to report the conviction to the disciplinary board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, according to chief disciplinary counsel Paul Killion, but, he added, a suspension of Mr. Elash's license or a disbarment is unlikely.
According to a criminal complaint, Mr. Elash drove through a wooden fence and into a building about 100 feet off Long Run Road about 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 22, 2012. A McKeesport police officer arrived on the scene to find Mr. Elash being treated by medics. As the officer questioned him, he said, he could smell alcohol on Mr. Elash and overheard him tell medics that he had been drinking.
Mr. Elash was taken to UPMC Mercy, and police later obtained a warrant to obtain blood that was drawn from Mr. Elash at the hospital. Tests showed his blood alcohol content was 0.196, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Elash is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Borkowski on May 22. Mr. DeLuca said he expects Mr. Elash's license will be suspended for a year and said he will request monitored house arrest in lieu of jail time.
First Published March 5, 2013 12:00 am