A top aide to Gov. Deval Patrick is facing drunken driving charges. Brookline police say Ron Bell, the governor's $97,000-a-year community affairs director, was pulled over at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday after nearly striking a police cruiser on Boylston Street.
The police report says the 48-year-old Bell failed field sobriety tests and refused to take a Breathalyzer test. The report says he admitted to having two bottles of beer about an hour prior.
Bell was released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty at his arraignment Monday to charges including driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding.
His lawyer tells the Boston Herald that Bell has gout, which may have contributed to his inability to pass sobriety tests.
A spokesman for the governor says Bell has been placed on unpaid leave.
"Ron Bell is a valued member of the staff and a friend, and he's been a supporter for a long, long time," Patrick said. "We are taking [the charges] seriously, and, more to the point, he is taking them seriously."
Patrick says he expects, and holds, his staff to the highest standards.
"What they do reflects on all of us and that's why we have taken the steps we have with Ron Bell. As I say, he's a friend, he's a valued member of the staff, but he is not above the law."
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This program aired on October 5, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.