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District 87 board member Fitzgerald Samedy sentenced to veterans treatment court a 2nd time after 4th DUI

A District 87 school board member was sentenced on Tuesday to a second term of probation with the McLean County Veterans Treatment Court for aggravated drunk driving and driving on a revoked license.

Fitzgerald Samedy, 36, admitted to the felony driving offenses during a plea hearing with Judge Charles Feeney. The charges related to a May traffic stop in Bloomington when police said the school board member smelled of alcohol and displayed slurred speech and glassy eyes.

Fitzgerald Samedy was sentenced Tuesday to a second term of probation with the McLean County Veterans Treatment Court for aggravated drunk driving and driving on a revoke license.

Samedy refused a breathalyzer test when police stopped him in the 100 block of South Evergreen Lane, according to authorities.

The conviction is Samedy’s fourth DUI conviction, with others recorded in 2009, 2016 and 2018.

Prosecutor Emily Young recommended a 30-month probation term, with 180 days in jail. Samedy would serve 60 days in jail, with the remainder stayed, under the state’s request.

Young pointed to Samedy’s extensive record of alcohol-related offenses.

Defense lawyer Jennifer Patton asked that Samedy be admitted to the veterans court, a program he successfully completed about 18 months before his most recent DUI. Samedy has mental health issues related to his military service, said Patton.

The defense lawyer said Samedy had been drinking at home and drove down the street to handle a situation involving his dog on the night of his arrest.

Samedy served in the Army from 2006-08, including multiple overseas deployments as a petroleum engineer, according to Patton.

Feeney, who also presides over veterans treatment court, noted a report showing 70% of Samedy’s diagnosed post traumatic stress disorder is tied to his military service.

“That’s huge for me,” said Feeney.

Allowing Samedy to return to the specialized probation program serves the ends of justice, said Feeney. Veterans return with mental as well as physical wounds, the judge observed.

“We should be just as cognizant of the wounds we can’t see,” said Feeney.

Samedy was eligible for three to seven years in prison on the aggravated DUI charge, or probation with a 10-day jail stay and 480 hours of community service work. The revoked license charge held a potential one to six years in prison, or probation with at least 30 days in jail.

A spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections said in December that a felony conviction does not disqualify Samedy from serving on the school board. That prohibition applies to child sex offenders, said spokesman Matt Dietrich.

Samedy declined to comment after the hearing about his school board position. Patton said, ”I know he wants to stay on the board.”

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