Once a political wheeler-dealer and head of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Gerard Jay "Jordy" Tollett is again in jail because of alcohol.
Records show Tollett, now Pasadena Convention Center general manager, was arrested for drunk driving in Nassau Bay on March 4, 2012. Tollett immediately appealed when months later a jury found him guilty of DWI-2nd and handed him a 180-day jail sentence and a $2,000 fine. As a condition of his bond to keep him out of jail while on appeal, a Harris County judge ordered the former "Mister Downtown" to stay away from booze, to pay the county's community supervision and corrections department a $60 per-month fee, and to submit to regular drug and alcohol testing.
Violation reports filed in court show Tollett didn't pay those fines. He also didn't stay away from booze; an ignition interlock device the judge ordered installed on Tollett's car continued to show alcohol on Tollett's breath.
This isn't exactly Tollett's first brush with trouble. Before his steep fall from power, there were the taxpayer-funded conventioneer junkets to a topless bar in 1989, or Liquid Lunch-gate back in 2006, when Tollett was caught on camera hitting the sauce hard before driving back to work. The scandal finally helped usher Tollett out of City Hall, where he'd been ensconced for decades, even though he continued to bank a six-figure consultant's fee with the City of Houston until early 2008.
Tollett was also popped for DWI in January 2008 after getting pulled over by a Webster police officer. That criminal complaint notes that Tollett was convicted of DWI in Galveston County back in 2001. His attorney apparently managed to wrangle that 2008 charge from a DWI-2nd down to a first.
So, had officials decided to, well, actually count, Tollett's most recent DWI is his third (that we know of). Had Tollett been charged that way, he'd be looking at a felony, a fine of $10,000, and between two and ten years in prison.
And, judging by the ruling by appeals court Justice John Donovan earlier this year, Tollett's most recent DWI was a doozy (the court also reviewed the dash-cam video of the arrest)
Here are the highlights:
-- An off-duty Nassau Bay cop called an on-duty officer out to the scene when he saw Tollett pull out of a parking lot, jump a curb, almost hit another car, and tear down the street, at times driving down the wrong side of the road.
-- The arresting officer pulled behind Tollett and activated his lights to pull him over. Tollet continued to drive some 40 seconds until he reached his driveway, opened his garage door, and got out of the car. He refused a field sobriety test, and repeatedly told the cop that police couldn't bother him because he was at his own house. "Appellant denied having consumed any alcohol but abrasively stated at one point, 'I've been drinking, so what?'"
-- The officer testified that Tollett "staggered, repeatedly asked to call his daughter, had a strong odor of alcohol, and slurred speech." The cop had to twice ask Tollett to step back because he was stumbling too close to the officer. Tollett "also childishly accused Officer Sharp of being 'mean' and 'not nice.'" The cop repeatedly asked Tollett not to make a phone call, and eventually had to forcibly remove the phone from his hand.
--"Appellant made several threatening statements, saying he knows police chiefs and works for the mayor."
-- "While officers adjusted appellant's handcuffs and his face was pointed toward the camera, he made several bizarre facial expressions and seemed to talk to himself."
With his appeal rejected, and his case kicked back down to the local court, Tollett was ordered by a judge to serve out his jail sentence. He was booked into the Harris County Jail on August 11. Twice Tollett has asked a judge for leniency, to give him community supervision or house arrest over jail time citing an ongoing battle with alcoholism.
Curious, then, how Tollett's still working for the City of Pasadena. Even though he's been behind bars since August, when we called the Convention Center office last week, a worker told us Tollett was still with the department but "out of the office" at the moment. We were told to talk to Richard Scott with the city's HR department when we asked whether "out of the office" was Pasadena-talk for "in jail until mid-December."
Last week, Scott (who is actually listed on the city's website as director of community relations) said he'd get back to us on whether Tollett's still collecting his $82,732 City of Pasadena Salary (at last check) while behind bars. Scott has since stopped returning our calls.
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