State Senator Michael D. Brady, accused last year of driving drunk through Weymouth, reached a plea deal with prosecutors Tuesday in which he admitted they had enough evidence to convict him at trial but will avoid a conviction.
The agreement, a common outcome in drunken driving cases, will continue the Brockton Democrat’s case without a finding for a year, during which he’ll be on probation. Should he stay out of trouble, the charges will be dismissed.
With the deal, Brady’s 15-month criminal case came to an end, though still unclear is whether he could face further consequences on Beacon Hill. Senate President Karen E. Spilka said Tuesday she wants to “review all the facts” before deciding whether to pursue a formal Senate probe.
Brady’s attorney, Jack Diamond, announced he had reached an agreement with the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office as Brady’s trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday morning before Judge Daniel Dilorati in Quincy District Court.
Under the deal, Brady, 57, will pay $600 in fees and fines, lose his license for 45 days, and be required to attend an alcohol education program. A separate criminal charge of negligent operation was also dismissed. Brady spent less than eight minutes before the judge, only speaking in court to acknowledge the facts of the case and answer Dilorati’s questions.
In a statement Brady released several hours after he left the courthouse, he said he wanted his constituents and Senate colleagues to know he takes “full responsibility for my actions.”
“I understand the embarrassment that this brings to all of them as well as to my friends and family,” Brady said, adding that his behavior “was not acceptable.”
“Like many who have made the decision to confront alcohol abuse I understand that this is a problem for which I need help,” he said. “I am thankful for the love and support of my family and so many friends as I seek to improve my life, literally one day at a time.”
The vast majority of drunken driving cases in Massachusetts — some 85 percent — are resolved outside of a trial, most of them through pleas, according to a study of OUI cases court officials commissioned in 2012. Most commonly, especially among first-time offenders, cases are “continued without a finding,” which carries most of the penalties of a guilty finding without giving the defendant a criminal record.
David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk County District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey, said Brady took the “standard disposition” for first-time OUI offenders should they choose not to go to trial.
“Defendants have the right to resolve a case at any point short of trial through admission,” he said. “Once admission takes place, we cannot force a trial.”
Back on Beacon Hill, a lawmaker does not have to be criminally convicted for the Senate to open an investigation or take action against one of their own.
Under language the chamber approved this year, the Senate could refer Brady to the Committee on Ethics for a probe if “any finding or decision by a court of law . . . indicates sufficient facts to believe” that he violated a Senate rule or engaged in other misconduct.
The committee, which conducts its investigations confidentially, can only recommend that a senator be disciplined. The final decision is left to the full Senate.
Brady, who made $112,748 last year, currently cochairs the Committee on Public Service and is a vice chairman of the Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development.
“The Senate takes this matter very seriously and we will want to review all the facts laid out in the transcript of this morning’s proceedings, when it is available,” Spilka said in a statement Tuesday. “I will need to consult the members of the Senate once those facts have been made available to determine next steps.”
Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr, who sits on the Committee on Ethics, said it’s an open question whether there’s a “meaningful role” for a Senate investigation.
“We need to consider . . . whether there is additional things that can be done that could add to the process of securing justice here,” he said. “A lot of us are still digesting it.”
Brady was pulled over in the early morning of March 24, 2018, when police said he was unsteady on his feet, slurred his words, and had breath that smelled of alcohol.
He admitted to drinking at a “work event” in Boston and at one point told an officer that “he was a state senator,” according to a police report. Brady failed several field sobriety tests, police said, and his license was suspended for nearly six months after he refused to take a breathalyzer test.
At the time of his arrest, Brady released a statement apologizing to his constituents “for any embarrassment and distraction that this incident causes.” He also said he was entering a treatment and counseling program for alcohol abuse.
“I know that as a senator, I am held to a higher standard,” he said then.
Brady had been previously cited for drunken driving in 1998, also in Weymouth, where police said he admitted to drinking “a lot of beers” before driving his car into a telephone pole.
But Brady, then a Brockton city councilor, avoided drunken driving charges after appearing in a closed-door clerk’s hearing in Quincy District Court. A criminal count of driving to endanger was reduced to a marked-lanes violation, a civil infraction that cost Brady $100. And he was found responsible for not wearing a seat belt and fined $35.