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Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Richardson charged with DUI

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:36 a.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Mayoral candidate A.J. Richardson, 36, of Sheraden talks to reporters about his arrest for driving under the influence as he leaves the Pittsburgh Municipal Court, Downtown, on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Mayoral candidate A.J. Richardson, 36, of Sheraden talks to reporters about his arrest for driving under the influence as he leaves the Pittsburgh Municipal Court, Downtown, on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Mayoral candidate A.J. Richardson, 36, of Sheraden leaves the Pittsburgh Municipal Court, Downtown, on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh mayoral candidate A.J. Richardson speaks to reporters outside Pittsburgh Municipal Court, Downtown, on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.

A Pittsburgh mayoral candidate suspected of drunken driving told police who found him slumped over the wheel of a running vehicle early Wednesday that he was “going to be mayor” and that the officers were “subservient to the white man,” officers reported.

As he was released from custody, A.J. Richardson, 36, of Sheraden denied that he was drunk behind the wheel and blamed the arrest on a conspiracy to discredit him as a candidate. He later did an about-face and said he would plead guilty to the charges.

“This is a weak, feeble attempt to discredit me. I was not intoxicated. I know the officers. People have been following me, and all of this is strategic,” Richardson said as he left the Allegheny County Jail.

“I'm totally innocent,” he said, vowing to stay in the race.

A few hours later, Richardson was contrite when he appeared for a mayoral debate at the University of Pittsburgh.

“I want to apologize to each and every one of you and also to the city of Pittsburgh for my actions,” Richardson said. “I shouldn't have been drinking. It was senseless. It was reckless. It's not who I am.”

Richardson then left the debate, saying he had to “mentally and emotionally regroup.”

Police charged Richardson with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without a vehicle registration. He was arraigned in Pittsburgh Municipal Court and released on his own recognizance to await a preliminary hearing scheduled next week .

Officers found a green minivan stopped in the middle of Steuben Street in the West End about 3 a.m. Wednesday. They yelled and hit the driver's door window to wake Richardson, according to a criminal complaint.

Richardson nearly fell when police ordered him to do field sobriety tests, the complaint said. He refused to take tests to determine his blood alcohol content and “became verbally hostile stating that he was going to be mayor, repeatedly,” according to the complaint.

Police said Richardson told the officers: “Let me talk to someone who's in charge because y'all brothers are subservient to the white man. … Y'all brothers, you should have some backbone and be a voice for the black people.”

Both officers are black, as is Richardson.

Officers towed Richardson's vehicle, which had front-end damage and a flat tire. He denied he hit anything.

Court records show he has a record of traffic-related arrests and court appearances for failing to pay rent to three landlords.

In September 2008, Munhall police charged Richardson with terroristic threats, public drunkenness, harassment and two counts of disorderly conduct.

The charges of terroristic threats, public drunkenness and one count of disorderly conduct were withdrawn. Munhall District Judge Thomas R. Torkowsky found Richardson not guilty on the summary harassment and disorderly conduct charges.

Richardson pleaded guilty before Crafton District Judge Dennis Joyce in October 2010 to a summary offense for operating a vehicle without a valid inspection.

Court records show a July 2012 conviction in Pittsburgh Municipal Court for running a red light. District Judge Oscar Petite in September found Richardson guilty of harassment.

Bobby Kerlik and Margaret Harding are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Staff writer Bob Bauder contributed to this report. Kerlik can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com. Harding can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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