EL CENTRO — At a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 25, El Centro City Council Member Edgard Garcia pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage.
No contest is a way to close a case without admitting guilt. The plea was entered by Jason Amavisca, Garcia’s defense attorney. When a defendant enters a no contest plea, they are choosing to remain silent as to his or her guilt or innocence in order to close a case.
According to the minutes of the Feb. 25 pre-trial hearing, which were posted at the Superior Court’s law library, a pay plan was listed ordering Garcia to pay $1,786 for the arrest. The sentence also included three years’ probation and five days of community service.
The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Donal Donnelly.
Garcia was arrested at approximately 10:15 p.m. on May 7, 2019 at the corner of Aurora and Cypress drives in El Centro just hours after he had presided over an El Centro City Council meeting as the then-mayor.
Garcia was charged with having a blood-alcohol content exceeding 0.08 percent and a second count of BAC above 0.15 percent. He registered blood-alcohol levels of .208, .23 and .24, about three times the legal limit of .08, court records show.
Donnelly presided over the case almost from its beginning because all local Superior Court judges recused themselves due to potential conflicts of interest. The county District Attorney’s office also declared a conflict, causing the state Attorney General’s office to prosecute the case.
Garcia ran against District Attorney Gilbert Otero in 2018.
This story is featured in the Feb 27, 2020 e-Edition.