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Texas DA convicted of DWI not tied to hit-and-run

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Posted: Jun 15, 2013 11:13 AM

Updated: Jun 15, 2013 11:13 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Investigators have concluded there is no evidence tying a Central Texas prosecutor convicted of driving while intoxicated to a hit-and-run accident that happened on the same night she was arrested.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested April 12 following a report of a vehicle swerving in traffic. Her blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit for driving. She pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and served about half of a 45-day jail sentence.

The night she was arrested, Jeff Van Gorp reported that an SUV had clipped the side of his car, popped his tire and damaged the fender before driving away. Lehmberg was driving a Lexus four-door sedan. Van Gorp in later statements said it could have been a Lexus.

But the Austin American-Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/11CZR2L) that the Travis County sheriff's office has ended its investigation in the case after concluding Lehmberg could not have hit Van Gorp's car.

"There is no way her car could have jumped high enough to put the damage on the other car," said sheriff's office spokesman Roger Wade.

Senior Deputy Paul Cossette, who investigated the collision, wrote in an email to the newspaper that several factors led officials to come to that conclusion, including damage to Lehmberg's car not matching the height of damage to Van Gorp's car and no paint transfer on either vehicle that would suggest they came in contact with each other.

Lehmberg's claim that she scraped the rock wall in front of her home seems to match the damage on her car, Cossette said.

Lehmberg has faced mounting pressure to quit since her arrest. Gov. Rick Perry on Friday vetoed funding for the state's Public Integrity Unit overseen by Lehmberg because of her refusal to step down.

Rick Reed, an attorney behind one of the efforts to oust Lehmberg from office, initially claimed in court filings that Van Gorp called 911 after the collision to report that "his vehicle was struck by an oncoming silver-colored Lexus" with a license plate that matched Lehmberg's.

However, in the 911 call the Travis County sheriff's office released Wednesday, Van Gorp is recorded saying that a newer, midsize SUV hit his car.

"If the Sheriff's Office expects the citizens of Travis County to give any credence to Deputy Cossette's findings and conclusions it should release all records relating to his investigation immediately, if it has not already done so," Reed said.


Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

Topics: District Attorney-DWI Arrest

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