DUI Charge Against Masino Dropped
The firing of the arresting Suwanee officer means the Gwinnett solicitor does not have enough evidence to proceed with the case.
A Gwinnett prosecutor has decided to drop the driving under the influence charge against Gwinnett Chamber VP Nick Masino, due to lack of evidence. The case came apart because of the dismissal of the arresting Suwanee police officer.
Masino, a Suwanee resident and former mayor of Suwanee, was arrested last August on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road after his vehicle was observed swerving between lanes. Initially, an off-duty officer spotted Masino's vehicle swerving on I-85, and phoned Suwanee police.
Masino did not finish a field sobriety test and subsequently was booked into the Gwinnett Detention Center. He also was charged with texting while driving and improper lane change. Those charges also have been dismissed.
Masino told the arresting officer that he had had "one drink" at a restaurant in the Mall of Georgia area, according to the arrest report. The arrest report also said that the officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from Masino's vehicle, and that Masino "stumbled over his words."
However, arresting officer Michael Chavez was dismissed by the department in January because of an inappropriate on-the-job encounter with a woman, and so Chavez was unable to testify in Masino's case. Solicitor Rosanne Szabo, who prosecutes cases in Gwinnett State Court, said there was not enough evidence to continue the case without Chavez's testimony.
Before the dismissal, Masino had said in court documents that Chavez unlawfully detained him without probable cause to believe he had committed a crime or violated any traffic law, according to a media report. Masino also claimed Chavez failed to properly read him his rights and coerced him into taking the field sobriety test.
More than 20 other DUI cases also will be dismissed because of Chavez's firing.
Compiled by Suwanee Patch Editor, Steve Burns.