SPARTA TOWNSHIP, NJ - A trial will be set in municipal court for Lois Ann Drinkard, age 66, who is charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident, and reckless driving.

Drinkard entered a not guilty plea before acting municipal judge Gerard F. Smith on Monday, Jan. 14. He said he will set a trial date.

The Sparta Police Department reported in The Alternative Press, "Officer CJ Grauerholz arrived on scene and spoke to the victim and several eyewitnesses. Subsequent investigation revealed that the victim was lawfully backing his 2010 Honda CRV into a parking space near Panera Bread. A 2006 beige Cadillac was traveling north on Center Street at an unsafe speed when it struck the left front of the Honda, causing moderate damage to the car. The operator did not report any injuries at that time. The Cadillac then fled the scene at a high rate of speed, exiting right onto Woodport Road and traveling north."

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The municipal court administrator told The Alternative Press witnesses, told police they observed Drinkard’s vehicle driving away from the vicinity of the accident, and that when police stopped her the vehicle was damaged and dripping fluids.

"Drinkard denied striking another vehicle and insisted she had struck a snow bank," the Sparta Police Department reported. "Her vehicle was deemed by officers on scene to be unsafe to drive. She was directed not to operate the vehicle until repairs could be made."

Court officers said some cases were deferred from the docket because of the substitute judge.

Jim Pierson told Smith he took care of two bad check charges of $9,276.90 and $1,024.89. The judge said he would have to report to intake at the county on Jan. 28 and if he really repaid the amount of the two checks the case would probably be sent back to municipal court.

Two people were brought from the county correctional center to appear in municipal court.

Lori Write pleaded guilty to obstruction of the highway for an Aug. 18, 2011 incident. She told the judge a friend of her neighbor agreed to take her to see her mother, but, when the car turned down Route 15 instead of up Route 206, she became concerned, and jumped out of the car into the traveled way, where she was struck by another car. She was sentenced to the four days she has already served and ordered to pay a $150 fine, $30 court costs, $50 to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, and a $75 surcharge by next Friday.

Terrance O’Connor, also brought from the correctional center, pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license and driving while intoxicated on May 24, 2012.

It is O’Connor’s fourth offense. Smith sentenced him to 90 days in jail, to be served at the completion of his current sentence. He will also serve 90 days in an alcohol rehabilitation facility and pay $1,006 in fines, $33 costs, $50 VCCF, $75 surcharge, $200 DWI surcharge. He will also lose his drivers’ license for another 10 years and serve 48 hours in the intoxicated drivers resource center.

Leopoldin Fernandez entered a not guilty plea on a charge of driving with a suspended license. He will hire an attorney within a week and a trial date will be set.

Keith Bellesheim entered a guilty plea to driving while intoxicated. He said he had between four and five beers at a friends house. The prosecutor said Bellesheim was cooperative and polite and attends school and works. He was fined $506, $33 costs, $50 VCCF, $200 DWI surcharge and $75 surcharge. He will ose his license for seven months and serve 12 hours of in the intoxicated driver resource center.

Samuel Dellagrange pleaded guilty to violating provisions of his provisional drivers license by having three people in the car and having unclear license plates. He was fined $106 and $23 court costs on each charge.


Editor's Note: Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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