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White Will Plead Innocent To Charges
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Riverbank City Councilmember Jesse James White has been formally charged by the Stanislaus County District Attorney's office with felony counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and causing injury to his four-year-old son in a Feb. 20 traffic accident in Oakdale.

He is also accused of hit and run driving and resisting a police officer at the scene.

His attorney Mary Lynn Belsher of Modesto said Monday he will plead not guilty at his March 21 arraignment to all charges, both felonies and misdemeanors, noting a defendant is presumed innocent until proved guilty and that after the arraignment her client is entitled to a preliminary hearing at which a judge will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

White posted bail, is not in custody and entered an alcoholism treatment center last week, according to his attorney.

Police claim White's blood alcohol level was .24 percent, about three times the legal limit, when he crashed his Corvette about 1 a.m. into two parked cars and then tried to flee, leaving his child, who had suffered a bloody nose still strapped in his car seat.

White faces felony charges of driving under the influence and causing an injury, hit and run with injury and exposing a child to great bodily injury and death.

Police also say he announced himself to them as Jesse James White at the accident scene and he threatened they would regret putting him under arrest.

Council members and constituents again called for White's resignation at the Feb. 27 council meeting, a week after the accident. He did not attend that meeting but sent word he does not plan to resign from the council. He can be removed if convicted of a felony. By council policy, White's absences from council meetings while he is under treatment for alcoholism can be considered excused medical leave, according to City Attorney Tom Hallinan.

White was elected to office in 2008 at the age of 19 and his term expires this November. Criticized by some fellow council members for his decisions and behavior since soon after taking office, he was on probation for "wet and reckless driving" when elected and two years later was arrested on drug possession charges. He also has survived two recall attempts and a couple of legal actions by council to remove him from office.