Former Riverbank councilman pleads no contest to DUI charges

02/01/2013 10:48 AM

06/26/2013 2:29 PM

Former Riverbank City Councilman Jesse James White on Friday pleaded no contest to four criminal charges and was sentenced to serve one year in jail for drunken driving, crashing his Corvette and leaving his injured son in the car in Oakdale last winter.

Whether White actually serves his sentence in jail will be up to the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves gave White three months to apply for the sheriff's alternative work program. If he does not apply or does not qualify for the work program, White must surrender at the jail May 1.

The judge also ordered White to serve five years of probation with a lengthy list of requirements. Reeves told White that she can sentence him to serve three years and eight months in prison if he violates probation.

White declined to comment as he walked out of the courtroom Friday morning. His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Marcus Mumford, said his 24-year-old client already is participating in a voluntary six-month residential rehabilitation program for alcoholism.

"He wants to be a good example for his family and his community, because he knows he made a mistake," Mumford said shortly after the hearing.

White was elected to the Riverbank council in November 2008 at age 19. He did not seek a second term on the council; his term ended in December. His grandfather Dave White served on the council for nearly two decades.

In a separate case, White was arrested in May 2010 on drug possession charges after sheriff's deputies said they found small amounts of marijuana and cocaine during a probation search of his apartment and car.

He was on probation for a June 2007 conviction of alcohol-related "wet and reckless" driving.

White resolved the drug case by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge in 2011. He also was required to complete a 20-hour drug-and-alcohol education class, which he did in the fall.

In an August preliminary hearing, witnesses testified they saw White's Corvette crash on F Street in Oakdale on Feb. 20.

His 4-year-old son was in the Corvette and suffered a bloody nose. White left his son in the car when he tried to leave, police have said.

Oakdale police Lt. Mike Nixon testified that after being handcuffed, White said, in slow, slurred speech: "Let me go, I'm Jesse James White. I'm a very important person. You are going to regret this."

White was taken to a hospital, where his blood was drawn. Test results showed he had a blood alcohol content of 0.24 percent, three times the legal limit to drive, according to testimony in the preliminary hearing.

Friday, White pleaded no contest to two felonies: driving under the influence causing injury and resisting an Oakdale police officer. He also pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors: child endangerment and hit-and-run causing property damage.

As part of a plea deal, the district attorney's office dropped two other criminal charges.

The judge ordered White to complete a 52-week parenting class, to complete an anti-drinking and driving course, and to drive a vehicle only with an installed interlock ignition device. The device prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver is under the influence of alcohol.

Reeves also ordered White to pay restitution and submit a DNA sample to a state database for felony convicted offenders. The judge told him he cannot own or possess a gun for the rest of his life because of his conviction.

During his probation, White is not allowed to be inside any business such as a bar, restaurant or nightclub where alcohol is served to be consumed on the premises.

Reeves made sure White understood all the requirements of his probation, because she said she can force him to serve a prison sentence if he violates the court's orders.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at or (209) 578-2394.

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