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Candidate's court case ends with traffic fine


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POSTED: Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Former mayoral candidate Panos Prevedouros paid a $50 fine yesterday for speeding, closing a court case that was pending since December 2006.

Prevedouros pleaded guilty in an agreement with the city prosecutor's office, which reduced the original charge of reckless driving, a criminal misdemeanor, to the traffic charge.

Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Jacobs asked Kaneohe District Judge Fa'auuga To'oto'o to levy a $100 fine because police had clocked Prevedouros going 60 mph in a 25-mph zone at the entrance to Kailua.

But the judge ordered the $50 fine suggested by Earle Partington, Prevedouros' attorney.

Partington said later that the police officer who cited his client on Nov. 15, 2006, was incorrect in charging him with the criminal count. “;Reckless driving requires a conscious disregard on the part of a driver that brings risk to others or to property. Just because you're speeding on a highway does not mean you're putting anyone else at risk — putting yourself at risk doesn't count.

“;Reckless driving carries horrendous insurance consequences,”; Partington said. “;People should fight it.”;

Jim Fulton, spokesman for the city prosecutor's office, said the department's investigation determined the circumstances did not meet the standard for a criminal charge.

“;We recognized we couldn't prove recklessness,”; he said.

The misdemeanor crime carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 or 30 days in jail, while $200 is the maximum penalty for a basic speeding violation.

The traffic citation came to light during Prevedouros' unsuccessful bid for mayor. The University of Hawaii engineering professor was best known for his opposition to the city's rail transit plans.

Prevedouros was wanted on a bench warrant for failing to appear on the citation. He surrendered to police in October and posted $250 bail.

Partington said his client had written to the court in 2006 to request a continuance because he was busy serving on the city Transit Advisory Task Force in addition to teaching. “;He never heard back and, frankly, he forgot about it. When a reporter discovered he had an outstanding bench warrant, he turned himself in and got it cleared up.”;

Prevedouros declined to speak to reporters after the brief hearing.