The former Prince George’s County liquor board chairman involved in a crash outside the MGM National Harbor in December has pleaded guilty to drunken driving charges.
Charles W. Caldwell III, 73, appeared in Prince George’s County Circuit Court to enter his plea Friday to driving while impaired, about five months after his arrest on the opening night of the new casino.
Judge Vincent J. Femia sentenced Caldwell to probation before judgment for one year and a fine of $645 dollars.
Caldwell’s sentence is similar to what Prince George’s County Councilman Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) received last week when he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in a government SUV that he crashed into the back of a vehicle stopped at a red light, injuring a couple.
Caldwell’s arrest became a high-profile incident that encompassed his position on the liquor board, his attendance at the VIP opening of the highly anticipated casino and reports of his attempt to leverage his status to get out of the charge.
Caldwell was leaving the MGM National Harbor shortly before midnight Dec. 8 when he collided with at least one other vehicle, police said. Caldwell fell, told officers he didn’t remember the crash and couldn’t keep his balance during a field sobriety test, according to a police report from the incident.
The report from the incident also indicates Caldwell asked arresting officers, “Is there any way we can make this go away?” while mentioning his role as chairman of the Prince George’s Board of License Commissioners.
After his arrest, Caldwell publicly denied he was impaired, saying he lost his balance due to his age. Caldwell stepped down from his board position shortly after his arrest.
Caldwell’s hearing Friday was brief, with his attorney telling the judge his client didn’t take a breath test, pleaded guilty and would pay a fine rather than go to jail. Prosecutors at the hearing said Caldwell had a prior drunken driving conviction from 1986. The charge from 30 years ago was not factored into Caldwell’s sentence Friday.
A few minutes after entering his plea, Caldwell went across a hall to pay his fine.
Caldwell’s attorney William C. Brennan declined to comment on the matter after the hearing.