Copyright © 2010 by Valley Freedom Newspapers
BROWNSVILLE — Mayor Pat M. Ahumada Jr. on Tuesday expressed regret about his arrest by Brownsville police early Tuesday on a charge of driving while intoxicated.
This is Ahumada’s third DWI arrest. He pleaded guilty in 1988 to a 1987 DWI charge and received six months probation. Ahumada’s second DWI arrest was in 2003, but the charge was later dismissed.
“I’m disappointed about the incident,” Ahumada said of his arrest Tuesday, adding, “I’m not admitting to anything.”
Ahumada said he would not resign from the city’s top elected post.
“It is the people who will decide if they want me as mayor or not,” he said. “I hope they understand that I am human and from time to time, we fail.”
The 57-year-old mayor was released at 4:19 a.m. on a $3,500 personal recognizance bond assessed by Municipal Judge Ben Neece. A PR bond allows someone accused of a crime — typically a minor offense — to be free while awaiting trial, without posting bail, based on the person’s promise to appear for future court hearings. If the accused then fails to appear as required, cash or some form of security must be paid and a new warrant is issued.
Ahumada said he was driving in the early morning hours when police officers stopped him.
According to the police report, Brownsville Officer L.G. Perez spotted the mayor at 2:34 a.m., speeding in a black 2002 Ford Escape in the 1300 block of Alton Gloor Boulevard. The report says the Escape was traveling erratically — straddling the center left turn lane and running over a curb — at which point the officer stopped the vehicle in the 5400 block of Paredes Line Road.
“I advised Ahumada that he had been stopped for driving erratically and asked him if he had been drinking,” Perez’s report states. “Ahumada stated in slurred speech that he was coming from dropping off a friend. … As Ahumada spoke I could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from within the vehicle.”
He also was swaying from side to side as he walked toward the rear of his vehicle, the report says.
“I was coming from a friend’s house,” the mayor said.
Ahumada refused to take Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests and said he wanted his lawyer. The police officer confiscated Ahumada’s driver’s license because he refused to provide a breath sample.
The mayor was patted down for weapons, handcuffed and taken to the police department, where he was processed and booked into the city jail at 3:24 a.m., reports show.
“They followed the procedures,” the mayor said of police officers. “I didn’t ask for any considerations.”
“Everybody has a job to do and I respect that,” he said.
Ahumada said police impounded the Ford Escape, which is registered to a family member.
Because of his prior DWI conviction, this latest DWI charge raises the level of severity from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor, according to the Texas Penal Code. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000 upon conviction.
Despite his present troubles, Ahumada said a few hours after his arrest, “I still have to continue my work.”
He was getting ready to board a Continental Airlines flight to Washington, D.C., about 11 a.m.
“I’m heading to Washington to lobby for funds, to lobby for projects,” he said.
The mayor had missed a 5:40 a.m. flight, City Manager Charlie Cabler said, noting that a group of city employees and commissioners are in the nation’s capital to meet with officials from numerous federal agencies in search of funding opportunities.
“He got arrested,” Cabler said. “Obviously, he’s got the right to resolve this issue in a court of law.”
Brownsville city commissioners did not respond to requests for comment.
Ahumada’s arrest follows the DWI and assault-family violence arrest of former City Commissioner Carlos A. Cisneros early Sunday. Cisneros tendered his resignation early Monday as assistant to Cameron County Commissioner John Wood.
Ahumada said he does not feel he should step down as mayor.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I do my job as mayor and dedicate more time than anyone I know of, and will continue to do the best I can. The job does not pay, but I enjoy serving.”
The mayor’s post is up for election next year.
Emma Perez-Treviño and Ildefonso Ortiz are reporters for The Brownsville Herald.