NHC Commissioner Berger's case continued again - WNCN: News, Weather

NHC Commissioner Berger's case continued again, officials waiting on lab results

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New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger (Source: NHC Jail) New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger (Source: NHC Jail)
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger was set to appear in court Thursday for a DWI and drug charge he received in December 2013, but his case has been continued to a later date, officials said.

Berger's attorney Buddy Allard said officials are waiting on lab results for the case.

However, Berger is expected to face a judge later this month for his December 2012 DWI charges. 

The District Attorney's office announced last year that the case would be continued into 2014.

Berger's court date for that charge was originally scheduled for Tuesday, December 10. But, according to Samantha Dooies, Assistant to the District Attorney Ben David, both sides agreed to continue the case until January 29.

"In light of the new charges that Mr. Berger acquired last week [December 2013] and witness availability, both the state and the defense have agreed that a continuance in this case is in the best interest of both parties," Dooies said in an email. "The new court date will be January 29, 2014, at which time a special outside judge will be assigned to hear the case. It is still scheduled to be a trial."

Berger bonded out of jail around 7:45 p.m. on December 6, after being arrested around 12:45 a.m. that morning.

A judge denied a request to raise Berger's bond to $15,000, leaving it at the original $5,000. However, Berger's attorney, Buddy Allard, said Berger would not be able to pay that amount and Berger's family would not be helping him cover the cost.

According to jail documents, Berger was charged with DWI, impeding traffic and possession of schedule II drugs.

In court, Assistant District Attorney Alex Nicely called Berger a "danger to the community."

WPD spokesperson Linda Rawley said Berger was found in the middle of Masonboro Loop Road, slumped over the wheel unconscious.

"I was pulling into my neighborhood and there is a car parked in the middle of the intersection and they are not responsive," a woman told 911 operators. "I'm in the middle of the intersection making sure no one will come and hit the car."

The caller went on to say that she tried honking and knocking on the car door, but there was no response from Berger.

According to Rawley, officers found several bottles of pills in the car when they arrived on scene. Notes from the 911 call show Berger was driving a rental car from Hertz at the time.

Berger's attorney, Buddy Allard, says the drug cited for the possession charge was a prescription.

"There's no allegation that he was in possession of any illegal controlled substance," Allard said. "What he was charged with was a prescription medication that was not in a bottle with a prescription label attached with his name on it."

Berger will face that drug possession charge on Dec. 19 and will appear before a judge for Friday's DWI charge on Feb. 20.

Berger was charged with DWI on December 18, 2012.

District Attorney Ben David said that case was continued for several reasons. He says it will allow the court to bring in the officer that actually arrested Berger, who has since moved to New Jersey.

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners removed Berger from the board in May via the "amotion process." A judge, however, sided with Berger's appeal and he was reinstated on the board, with a list of rules.

"His personal issues are no longer a distraction from the real work we are doing on key issues important to the citizens," Chairman Woody White said.

The new guidelines for Berger state he will not be able to use county vehicles or have a county credit card. He must be on time to meetings and he's not allowed to abuse his email privileges by sending what commissioners called "rambling emails" to county staff.

Commissioners said in September they would not seek another amotion hearing to remove Berger from the board if things went well over the next few weeks.

There is no word at this time what commissioners plan to do moving forward.

Copyright 2013 WECT. All rights reserved.

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