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April 09, 2013 | 04:42 PMELKHORN — Shortly after completing a prison substance-abuse program, a 49-year-old man was arrested in Darien for drunken driving as a 10th offense.
Leonard LaPuma, of Chicago, is in custody at the Walworth County jail in lieu of a $10,000 bond.
Until January 10, LaPuma was serving a prison sentence for his ninth drunken-driving conviction, and he was only free from custody for a couple of months before his most recent arrest.
LaPuma was arrested on March 23 at 3:14 a.m., and the officer reported that LaPuma smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred and his balance was poor, according to the criminal complaint.
A portable Breathalyzer test came back with a blood-alcohol level of 0.12. The legal limit for a first-offense drunken driver is 0.08, and it is 0.02 for repeat offenders.
LaPuma has nine previous convictions, which include offenses that occurred on Feb. 11, 1991; June 27, 1991; Feb. 14, 1993; Nov. 13, 1994; March 24, 1998; July 26, 1998; Nov. 3, 2001; Sept. 3, 2006; and Nov. 26, 2008.
On Feb. 5, 2009, for his ninth offense, LaPuma was given a 10-year sentence, five years of initial incarceration and five years of extended supervision. Judge James Carlson ruled that LaPuma wouldn't be eligible for the earned release program until he completed 3 1/2 years of his sentence.
He also was fined $6,300. A condition of his extended release is that he not consume alcohol.
In a letter written from prison, LaPuma asked Carlson to modify his sentence and find him eligible for the earned release program before he serves 3 1/2 years.
"I'm asking for the opportunity to participate in the ERP program with the hopes to learn new life skills that will help me not repeat my past mistakes," LaPuma wrote to Carlson. The Earned Release Program is a substance-abuse program.
Carlson denied the motion.
Eventually, LaPuma enrolled in the program and successfully completed it.
The DOC's website states the program "provides statutorily eligible inmates an incentive to actively participate in an intensive alcohol and drug treatment program designed to reduce the incidence of future criminal behaviors."
In 2008, LaPuma was arrested after he rear-ended a vehicle on State Highway 50. The other vehicle was reportedly stopped in front of Mulligans Sports Pub & Grill, and was waiting to turn into the parking lot. Mulligans burned down in 2010.
LaPuma rear ended the vehicle and then fled the scene. He told a town of Delavan police officer that he left because his license was revoked and he didn't think the accident was "that bad."
An attempt to locate was placed on the vehicle and LaPuma was stopped by the Williams Bay Police Department. Before stopping the vehicle, the officer saw the driver slam on the vehicle's brakes to avoid an accident.
When the officer made contact with LaPuma, he could smell alcohol on him.
During field sobriety tests, LaPuma struggled to keep his balance.