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DUI-charged deputy changes plea 

The attorney for the San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputy who was charged with driving under the influence in September announced his client wouldn’t contest the charges at a pre-trial hearing in the SLO Courthouse on Oct. 13.


Though James Lesperance, 45, of Pismo Beach, wasn’t present at the hearing, attorney James Murphy changed the deputy’s original plea from not guilty to no contest for the second misdemeanor count of driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. The first count of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol was dismissed.


Lesperance was arrested in the early morning hours of Sept. 6 in the 100 block of El Camino Real in Arroyo Grande after police responded to two separate calls of a disturbance on the corner of Nelson and Mason streets. According to police reports, a caller described seeing three men exit a white Chevy Tahoe and assault a group of men and women before driving off.


Police responding to the call spotted Lesperance’s SUV and pursued it until it pulled into a gas station at 100 Barnett St. They questioned Lesperance, the driver, as well as his two passengers—brothers Allen Lee Shewmaker, 42, a contractor from Arroyo Grande; and Aaron Dee Shewmaker, 40, a construction worker from Atascadero. Police suspected Lesperance to be under the influence and took him to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital for a blood test. The results of that test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.16, twice the legal limit. He was booked at the AGPD and released on his own recognizance.


One witness told New Times three men were involved in the alleged assault, though Arroyo Grande Police Department Commander Charles Gerhart said official witness statements indicate Lesperance drove the vehicle but was not an alleged assailant.


On Oct. 14, Judge Linda Hurst sentenced Lesperance to three years’ probation, a fine of $1,872, and a three-month DUI education program. He will have his driver’s license temporarily suspended until proof of completion of his DUI classes. He was also sentenced to two days in jail, which he will satisfy through an alternative work program.


According to the Sheriff’s Department spokesman Rob Bryn, Lesperance remains reassigned to headquarters and isn’t currently driving on behalf of the department.


Meanwhile, the Shewmakers pleaded not guilty to battery and vandalism charges at their arraignment in Grover Beach on Oct. 9. Judge Jac Crawford served the brothers a restraining order on behalf of five of the alleged assault victims. Terms of the order dictate that neither Shewmaker can have any contact with the named people or their families.


The brothers’ pre-trial hearing is set for Nov. 12 in Grover Beach.

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