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New Bedford councilor Hugh Dunn officially charged with drunk driving

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FALL RIVER, Mass. — New Bedford City Councilor Hugh Dunn has been officially charged with multiple offenses including operating under the influence, according to a report by the New Bedford Standard-Times.

A Fall River clerk magistrate made the decision following a show-cause hearing earlier this week to determine if there was enough evidence to charge him with OUI after he crashed his car in the early morning of May 1.

Dunn was not arrested at the time, but three New Bedford police officers have since been disciplined after an internal investigation concluded they “did not perform their duties properly.”

The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office later accused Dunn of driving while under the influence, leaving the scene of property damage and negligent driving. But the accusations didn’t officially become charges until Fall River Clerk Magistrate John O’Neil decided Wednesday there was enough probable cause, according to the Standard-Times.

A Fall River clerk told 12 News earlier in the day the case file would be returned to New Bedford District Court for future proceedings. Dunn’s arraignment was not immediately scheduled.

Show-cause hearings are typically held behind closed doors, but The New Bedford newspaper successfully argued the hearing should be made public given the circumstances and Dunn’s stature in the community.

The defense argued there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Dunn was intoxicated when he crashed his car. The special prosecutor’s arguments echoed many of the facts laid out in the New Bedford Police Department’s internal investigation released earlier this year.

The investigation showed — among other things — that the responding officers didn’t look into whether Dunn was drunk, even though it was early in the morning and he’d been coming from a bar where investigators later determined he’d had several alcoholic drinks.

“Not one officer inquired as to where Mr. Dunn was coming from or where he was going,” wrote Lt. Robert Holmes of the department’s professional standards division.

“No citation was issued to Mr. Dunn even though he struck 2 parked cars and a sign and then attempted to leave the scene,” he added.

Dunn, who represents Ward 3, is running unopposed for re-election this year.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is an investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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