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Pirates president Coonelly apologizes for DUI arrest

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By Dejan Kovacevic
Friday, Feb. 24, 2012

Pirates President Frank Coonelly on Thursday apologized for drinking and driving, resulting in his arrest in December.

Ross police arrested Coonelly on Dec. 22 and charged him with drunken driving, driving the wrong way, careless driving and driving with a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.16 percent, according to court records. The state's legal limit is 0.08 percent.

Police described the DUI charges as his first offenses, according to the court documents.

"My actions that evening were irresponsible and wrong," Coonelly said in a prepared statement released by the team.

Coonelly, 51, of Sewickley is married with four children.

"My wife and I have preached to our children about the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol, not only for themselves but for the innocent drivers, passengers and pedestrians on the road," he said.

Coonelly pledged to support groups that combat drunken driving.

His attorney, Robert G. Del Greco Jr., said that Coonelly's "hope is to enter into the first-time offenders ARD program. He intends on fully complying with all of the conditions of the program, which will allow him to earn a dismissal and expungement."

Bob Nutting, the Pirates chairman of the board who hired Coonelly in September 2007, said he was thankful that nobody was injured and expressed support for Coonelly.

"Frank called me immediately to apologize for the mistakes he had made," Nutting said. "I expressed my extreme disappointment in his actions."

Coonelly said he was pulled over just off the Parkway North's Perrysville exit for the HOV lane. He said he made one turn and realized he was going the wrong way -- 5 to 10 feet by his estimate -- before making a U-turn. That, he said, was when the police came.

Coonelly waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Feb. 1 and was released on his own recognizance. A formal arraignment is scheduled for March 20 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

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