One day after Chris Audenried took his newly appointed seat on Nazareth Borough Council, he was allegedly found slumped behind the wheel of his car with a bottle of vodka nearby, according to police.
After more than 10 years on the Nazareth Area School Board, Audenried said he was ready to be "part of the solution" for Nazareth Borough and was prepared to handle "fiery arrows."
Now he's preparing to face a summary charge of public drunkenness, court records say. The charge was filed Jan. 17 through District Judge Joseph Barner's office in Lower Nazareth Township.
According to Colonial Regional Police Chief Roy Seiple, an officer was dispatched to the area of 859 Nazareth Pike -- Giant Food Stores -- for a report of a 911 hang-up.
During a routine check, Officer Christopher Templeton found Audenried slumped over the wheel of his car, which was parked and not running, Seiple said. Audenried was slow to respond when Templeton knocked on the driver's side window.
Audenried had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, according to Seiple, and a bottle of vodka was found nearby. Seiple said he did not know if the bottle was open.
Templeton cited the councilman with public drunkenness and contacted a friend or family member, who drove him home.
Seiple said he trusts his officer's judgment in deciding between a DUI charge and a public drunkenness charge.
"There is nothing to indicate that it was or wasn’t [a DUI], quite honestly," Seiple explained. "He was in a private parking lot, he was parked, he did not have physical control over the vehicle. [The charges] fall where they fall, and that’s it."
Seiple added: "Bottom line is, my officers are professional, they know what they’re doing. They’re on the scene, they know what transpired."
Nazareth Borough Council on Dec. 6 unanimously appointed Audenried to fill a seat left vacant by the Rev. William Matz. He was also appointed to Council's Police and Law committees.
Matz, a Republican from the First Ward, was in the third year of his third term. Audenried will serve out the remainder of his term, which expires at the end of 2013.
This is just the latest run-in for Nazareth's councilmen. The borough's police chief has demanded the vice president of council resign from his post amidst allegations he obstructed a state police investigation, according to a report in The Express-Times.
Councilman Larry Stoudt was charged Oct. 9 with allegedly trying to interfere with a state police undercover investigation. According to a criminal complaint, he allegedly asked Police Chief Thomas Trachta to run the driver's license of a suspected liquor enforcement officer in an attempt to protect the local American Legion post from undercover, prying eyes.
Stoudt has applied for acceptance into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program for first-time offenders.