Parish President Larry Cochran issued a public apology to the people of St. Charles Parish at Monday’s Council meeting after pleading no contest to a first-offense DWI charge in Jefferson Parish earlier that day.
“After my no contest plea (Monday), I issued a public apology to the people of St. Charles Parish,” Cochran told the council. “I want to reiterate that public apology … and further apologize to each one of you council members here tonight for this unnecessary distraction for all the great things we have accomplished together so far during this term of office.”
Cochran said he takes responsibility for also driving on painkillers.
“I chose not to contest the charge because I take full responsibility for driving even though I had been taking prescription medication for kidney stones,” Cochran said.
The no contest plea answered a charge filed in Jefferson Parish nearly two years ago. He pleaded no contest under Article 894, which allows defendants to set aside their convictions once they meet certain conditions.
Cochran received a suspended prison sentence of 120 days, four days of community service and a fine of $350. A reckless driving charge was dismissed.
He would be able to avoid jail time by successfully completing the terms of the one-year probation period set by a Metairie First Parish Court judge.
His arrest in September of 2017 came after another motorist called police to report erratic driving during early morning hours in Kenner. According to the arrest report, a responding officer said Cochran’s eyes were red and glassy and his speech was slurred when he found Cochran driving a St. Charles Parish vehicle.
However, Cochran, 57, had no detectable alcohol in his system when he took a Breathalyzer test. According to police, he performed poorly on a field-sobriety test, which Cochran attributed to bad knees following a 2015 surgery.
Blood samples were taken as a result and revealed there was no alcohol in his system but apparently detected three prescription painkillers, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone and Oxymorphone, according to Kenner police.
Cochran initially enrolled in a pre-trial diversion program, but did not complete its terms. He said he chose to withdraw from the program in order to finish receiving medical procedures for injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident he was involved in during April 2018. He required intensive care after the wreck.
Cochran, who was a passenger on the motorcycle, said he was teaching his daughter how to drive it. Deputies issued citations to Cochran’s daughter for careless operation, riding with no helmet and no insurance. Cochran was issued a citation for not wearing a helmet.
Fulfilling the terms of the pre-trial program would have allowed the charges against him to be dismissed or refused, and provided the option for Cochran to have the arrest expunged from his record. The program normally allows participants six months to complete the program or face charges.
“This has been a long road,” Cochran read from his statement. “I have had six operations – including a total knee replacement. These medical issues have delayed a resolution to this matter, but today I have taken the necessary steps to put this unfortunate incident behind me.
“I pledge to continue working even harder for the people of St. Charles Parish alongside each one of you so that our parish can continue to be the great place to work and live it is today.”