Deputy accepts plea in DUI crash, faces jail time

K-9 handler deputy Johnny Pena with his partner Nantos.

Johnny R. Pena, the San Benito County sheriff’s deputy accused in Newark of driving under the influence while in a patrol car, accepted a plea deal in the case and will serve 22 days in jail, according to a spokeswoman for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Pena at a pretrial hearing Friday pleaded no contest to driving under the influence – accepting a sentence of 22 days in county jail, three years of probation, nine months of DUI school and restitution of $1,840, according to Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for the office.

It is unclear what other circumstances may have contributed to the 22-day sentence – as each county keeps its own database of records – and Drenick has not responded to an email requesting clarification.

The case stems from a Feb. 17 arrest in Newark during a training trip. Newark police arrested Pena, age 33 at the time and a Hollister resident, on suspicion of DUI after he crashed the vehicle in a solo-car wreck at 1:18 a.m. on Mowry Avenue at the Newpark Mall. A source familiar with arrest details confirmed that Pena had been driving a patrol car and that it happened during a training trip. Newark police cited Pena at the police station and released him to another party.

In the days following the arrest, the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office placed Pena on administrative leave. A county personnel official, Jackie Credico, on Monday confirmed that Pena’s status has not changed.

Sheriff Darren Thompson declined to comment Monday but shortly after the arrest said this in a statement: “We are very disturbed by this event, and we are determined to hold staff members accountable for their actions. After the completion of a thorough personnel investigation, the appropriate personnel action will be taken. The deputy involved has been placed on Administrative Leave, and will not return to work while the matter is pending.”

Pena has been with the sheriff’s office since November 2004.

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