Obama uncle admits facts in drunken driving case
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts drunken driving charge against President Barack Obama's uncle will be dismissed if he stays out of trouble for a year, officials said Tuesday.
Onyango Obama, 67, admitted to sufficient facts at a hastily scheduled hearing Tuesday. That means he didn't plead guilty but acknowledged Massachusetts prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him. A judge continued the case for one year without a finding, meaning that if he does not get arrested during that time, the charge will be dismissed. A judge also ordered him to attend a driver alcohol education program.
Onyango Obama is the half brother of the president's late father. He was arrested in Framingham in August after a police officer said he made a rolling stop at a stop sign and nearly caused the officer's cruiser to crash into Obama's sport utility vehicle. Police said Obama registered 0.14 on a blood-alcohol test, above the state's legal limit of 0.08.
On Tuesday, the judge ordered him to give up his driver's license for 45 days. But his lawyer said he will apply for a hardship license to allow him to drive to and from his job as the manager of a liquor store in Framingham. Two other traffic violations were dismissed.
"He felt it was in his best interest to put this behind him," said his attorney, P. Scott Bratton. "He wants to return to his normal, quiet existence in society."
Obama, who is from Kenya, is also appealing a deportation order that dates to 1992, when he failed to renew his application to remain in the U.S. Bratton called it a technical error. He said Obama moved here as a teenager in the early 1960s to live with a host family and attend school.
The president refers in his memoir "Dreams from My Father" to an Uncle Omar, who matches Onyango Obama's background and has the same date of birth.
After his arrest, Obama allegedly said, "I think I will call the White House," when asked if he wanted to make a call to arrange for bail, according to a police report.
Obama's lawyer said Tuesday that he has had no contact with the White House about the case.
Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said prosecutors recommended a guilty conviction with one year probation on the drunken driving charge.
"By admitting to sufficient facts today to operating under the influence ... the defendant has admitted responsibility for the essence of the crime he committed and has now been held accountable for his actions," Leone said in a statement.