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UPDATED: Commissioner Berger arrested on DWI, drug charges

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Brian Berger

Brian Berger

Just days before he was scheduled to appear in court for similar charges this time last year, New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger was arrested Friday morning on charges of driving while impaired and drug possession.

Three months after being reinstated to the board, Berger was charged with his second DWI in a year, according to jail records. He was charged with DWI in December 2012.

According to Wilmington Police Department Spokeswoman Linda Rawley, police found Berger “in the middle of the road” in the 3500 block of Masonboro Loop Road at 12:47 a.m. Friday.

Berger was unconscious and “slumped over the wheel,” Rawley said.

Police found several different pills on Berger, which were determined to be schedule II controlled substances.

Berger, 37, was charged with DWI, possession of a schedule II controlled substance and impeding traffic. The DWI and impeding traffic charges are misdemeanors; the drug charge is a felony.

Berger was booked at the New Hanover County Detention Facility under a $5,000 secured bond.

Reached for comment Friday morning, Commissioners Chairman Woody White offered the following via a text message: “Regrettably it appears that Mr. Berger’s personal problems have resurfaced. While we worry about his health and well-being, the board is not distracted from the important work we do on behalf of the citizens.”

Asked whether the charges—the felony in particular—would warrant the board to pursue his removal a second time, White said that is unknown at this time.

Berger was removed from the board in May after several incidents—last December’s DWI charge among them—that called his ability to serve into question. The board removed Berger, through a process called amotion, in a hearing in which commissioners determined he posed a security risk and had threatened or harassed some county employees.

Related story: Commissioners vote 3-2 to remove Berger from board

Berger appealed the removal, and a superior court judge found the board erred in its removal by allowing comments from commissioners that were not entered as evidence. While the board’s use of amotion was upheld, Berger was reinstated to the board in September.

Commissioners agreed they would not pursue Berger’s removal a second time, saying he could serve on the board so long as he adhered to a set of adopted rules that called for his attendance and timeliness at meetings, among other requirements. Berger has been tardy or absent from meetings multiple times since. (Related story)

Berger was charged with DWI on Dec. 18, 2012, after police observed him perform an unsafe movement with his vehicle around 2 a.m. in downtown Wilmington. His blood-alcohol level was determined to be .08—just over the legal limit to drive in North Carolina. Berger later said he consumed three beers and a shot of liquor that night but did not think he was too impaired to drive.

That case has been continued in court multiple times, and his next appearance on that charge was scheduled to be held this Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Thursday afternoon, Berger attended and participated in an agenda review session for the board’s regular meeting this coming Monday. During a staff presentation on changes to the county’s personnel policy, Berger asked specifically about protections afforded employees who are charged with—but have yet to be convicted of—offenses such as DWI.

The changes would allow all employees the opportunity to appeal a disciplinary action resulting from an offense. Human Resources Manager Mark Francolini told the board some department heads reporting to the county manager are not currently afforded the same appeal process.

Addressing Francolini, Berger said: “Can you talk a little about what protection might be afforded to individuals who have only been charged with a crime, particularly two you mentioned: domestic violence and DWI, which are probably the two biggest where charges are ultimately dropped and the individual turns out to be innocent.

“I would hate to see somebody lose their job because of that,” Berger said.

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Posted by on December 6, 2013. Filed under Crime,Local News,New Hanover County,Wilmington. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

10 Responses to UPDATED: Commissioner Berger arrested on DWI, drug charges

  1. Marty Miller Reply

    December 6, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Brian, enough is enough.You are a disgrace to the city and the county. Apparently you have a high tolerance for shame. Please do all of us a favor and leave the state or at least the county. The county government and the people can no longer entertain your mental problems.

  2. loser Reply

    December 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    what a loser. get this dude out of local politics. He needs to be in jail like a few people i know after 2 duis. throw the book at him. jerk

  3. Wilmington citizen Reply

    December 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    This and the first arrest last year sound like a frame job!

  4. Chase Reply

    December 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    A frame job? I don’t think so. If you’re passed out in the middle of the street drunk and with pills in your possession, pretty sure only you are to blame. Get this loser out of our politics. It bothers me that people of such poor character are elected to represent the people of New Hanover County. Next election, do your homework on the candidates!

  5. Shaun O'Rourke Reply

    December 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Wilmington has endured enough from this guy.

    This is what happens when uneducated people vote for a tea party member without fulling understanding their candidate, or his mental well being.

    We need more moderate republicans to work with moderate democrats.History proves this is the best way to govern.

    When you are a crazy extreme right wing nut, or a tree hugging left leaning liberal nothing gets done in local, state, or national politics.

    Wake up America!!

  6. Wilmington citizen Reply

    December 6, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    It bothers ME that people are so quick to judge before facts come out. Was Mr. Berger prescribed the medication? Was alcohol a factor? I find it interesting that there was no mention of a BAC. Please remember this is suspicion of DWI, not a conviction. Let our appointed judges do the job we pay and elect them to do. Not arm chair internet judges, media outlets, or the city council. I certainly don’t condone substance abuse or drunk driving. If he was driving around hopped up on recreational goofballs and boozing, then the officers made a great arrest. We just don’t, and should not, know all the facts unless Mr. Berger chooses. Judges will get to the bottom of this one way or the other.

  7. 2wilmcit Reply

    December 7, 2013 at 11:04 am

    really wilmington citizen? your way of thinking is what is wrong with this city,county & country. unless you are in fact mr. berger. Loser!

  8. Ilm citizen Reply

    December 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Berger was not prescribed the medication or didn’t have the medication properly labeled in his possession at the time of the arrest, thus warranting the schedule 2 charges. A DWI doesn’t necessarily mean he was under the influence of alcohol, it just means he was too impaired to drive on some sort of substance (ie- the pills he had in his possession). Passing out at the wheel in the middle of the road warrants an arrest in all 50 states. Berger is a dummie and will be riding a bike to all meeting from here on out, which will cause him to be more tardy. What an IDIOT!

  9. bob dobalina Reply

    December 8, 2013 at 9:06 am

    yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy toss him to da gators… sad that our commissioners only challenge is from such an ahole… the commission is embarrassing and filled with its own “personal interest members” who can hide behind this idiots actions…. berger is just the ugly girl of the group and the other members probably understand how they benefit from having him around…

  10. Bill Reply

    December 8, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I did not know he was a “Tea Party Candidate”…….is this true or is this just another smear on a truely noble and American Patriotic group? Berger seems to be more of a Liberal Democratic, far left looney type from what I know of him.

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