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Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By Peter E. Bortner Republican & Herald POTTSVILLE, Pa. — A Mount Carmel woman’s tearful apology was not enough to keep her out of prison after she admitted Wednesday to a Schuylkill County judge that she was intoxicated when she drove her sport-utility vehicle into the sheriff’s house in Ashland in August 2017.

Melanie L. Rooney, 40, must spend 30 days to six months in prison, plus an additional 12 months on probation, and pay costs, a $750 fine and $100 to the Substance Abuse Education Fund, Judge Charles M. Miller decided. He made the sentence effective at 10 a.m. Sept. 8.

“I would not have accepted this plea without (Sheriff Joseph G. Groody) being in agreement with this,” Miller said. “Don’t make a mistake like that again.”

Miller also said Rooney was fortunate that no one was hurt.

“You put other people in jeopardy,” Miller told Rooney.

Rooney shed tears as she apologized to Groody, who was in the courtroom for her plea.

“Thank you,” she told him. “I’m sorry for the pain I caused your family.”

Rooney pleaded guilty to accident involving damage to attended vehicle or property and driving under the influence. Prosecutors withdrew two counts of recklessly endangering another person and one each of accident involving death or personal injury, disregarding traffic lane, failure to drive at a safe speed, stop sign violation, failure to obey traffic control devices, reckless driving, careless driving and failure to stop and give information.

Ashland police charged Rooney was under the influence of alcohol on Aug. 14, 2017, when she drove her 2001 Ford Explorer into Groody’s home at 23rd and Walnut streets.

Police said Rooney was driving west on Walnut Street at a high rate of speed when she struck a stop sign in the 2300 block of Walnut Street, jumped a curb, traveled across the lawn and struck Groody’s house. The house sustained exterior and interior damage, but no one in it was injured, according to police.

Police said Rooney left the vehicle and fled from the scene. However, she was caught a short time later in the parking lot of the Gitman Bros. shirt factory, police said.

When apprehended, Rooney had an odor of alcohol about her, glassy and bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, police said. She refused to take a blood alcohol test, according to police.

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