New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger was sentenced
Monday on a pair of misdemeanors for his Dec. 6, 2013 charges of possession of
a controlled substance and DWI, while his Dec. 18, 2012 DWI charge was
dismissed in a plea bargain reached with the district attorney’s office.
District Attorney Ben David said Berger will not have to
serve jail time under the sentencing, provided he completes 12 months’ supervised
probation, a drug and alcohol assessment program and 48 hours of community
service without violating those terms or incurring any new criminal charges.
Berger received a Level 4 DWI misdemeanor and a misdemeanor
for possession of Endocet, a prescription painkiller containing oxycodone. At
the time of his arrest, Berger was in possession of three prescription drugs,
two of which he was legally prescribed.
Berger received a 120-day maximum suspended sentence,
meaning if he violates probation or other conditions of the sentencing he could
go to jail for up to four months.
His drug misdemeanor will also be dismissed Feb. 3, 2015 if he
has satisfactorily completed his year of probation.
For the present, this ends a more than year-long chapter of
legal problems and court appearances for the commissioner since his 2012 DWI
charge that prompted his temporary removal from the board of commissioners in
In a press conference after the hearing, David said he was
pleased with the agreement reached between the prosecution, and Berger’s
attorney, Buddy Allard, which David said avoided what could have been an
18-month process of subpoenaing witnesses, awaiting blood test results and the
state bureau of investigation to overseeing the process.
He also congratulated Allard for working over the previous
four days to make clear his client sincerely wanted to receive help and end his
current legal troubles. But he warned that Berger would see jail time if he
fails to conform to the conditions of his sentence.
“We’re not going to treat Mr. Berger any differently,” David
said. “If he continues to violate the law, he is going to have to go to jail.”