CROWN POINT — David Scheeringa, a Hobart Township board member charged with five operating-while-intoxicated offenses, will submit a plea agreement next week that would allow him to enter the Lake County Veterans Treatment Court, his defense attorney told Judge Julie Cantrell Wednesday.
Scheeringa, 51, has for months tried to transfer his criminal cases into the treatment court, which provides support and possible alternative sentencing for veteran defendants. The Lake County Prosecutor's Office opposed the board member's request because of his extensive criminal record and limited history in the U.S. Army.
Defense attorney Thomas S. Mullins said at Wednesday's court hearing he reached a deal for Scheeringa after meeting with Lake County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Barbara McConnell. He did not outline the terms of the agreement, but said it would be ready to be submitted by Oct. 17.
Though Scheeringa has not been admitted to the treatment court, he has been subject to its rules while his attorney negotiated with prosecutors. Cantrell said she was happy for Scheeringa, and noted he has done amazing in the program.
“It's been a hard road,” he told the judge, but every day in the program has made him a better person.
He thanked Cantrell and the court personnel, who he said were “just wonderful.”
Scheeringa has four prior convictions for operating while intoxicated, with his first offense occurring in 1997. He is charged in five other operating-while-intoxicated cases filed in the last four years.
In one of those cases, the board member allegedly backed his vehicle into a Hobart police officer's squad car on Jan. 18, 2017, after he was stopped on suspicion of drunken driving, according to court records. He submitted to a breath test, which indicated he had a 0.25 blood-alcohol content, more than three times the legal limit to operate a vehicle.
Scheeringa was beaten by a primary challenger in May for his seat on the Hobart Township Board.
Lake County Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.