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By Valerie Lynn M. Maigue

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 22) – After being found sleeping inside a pickup that was halfway in the road and halfway on the sidewalk in the village of Tamuning, Guam chief of power and water utilities was arrested and later charged yesterday with driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Guam Police Department Officer Jed Santo Tomas said a motorist flagged him down around 5:50 a.m. after finding John Benavente in a 1997 Toyota Tacoma. The pickup was facing north on Marine Corps Drive, partly on the sidewalk in front of Star Sports Cards.

"It was a concerned citizen who was afraid someone might be dead," said Santo Tomas, of Guam Police Department's Highway Patrol Division.

The officer said he checked the pickup and found Benavente asleep, partially reclined in his seat.

According to the magistrate's complaint filed in court yesterday, when Santo Tomas asked Benavente if he had been drinking, the utility official said, "Yeah, I had a few, ... too much."

When the officer asked Benavente to step out of the vehicle, he stumbled and Santo Tomas had to hold his arm to prevent him from falling, court documents state.

Benavente agreed to submit to a field sobriety test and failed all six parts of the test, court documents state. He was later arrested and charged in court with [Driving Under the Influence] DUI as a misdemeanor.

Consolidated Commission on Utilities Chairman Simon Sanchez said he did not want to comment on the matter, but noted a Consolidated Commission on Utilities meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, when the issue may be brought up.

Benavente oversees both the Guam Waterworks Authority and Guam Power Authority.

Santo Tomas emphasized that driving under the influence is not taken lightly.

"Highway Patrol takes DUI very seriously and if caught you will suffer the consequences, regardless of who you are," Santo Tomas said.

May 22, 2006

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