Carlton County attorney checks into rehabCarlton County Attorney Thom Pertler has checked himself into the Hazelden alcohol and drug addiction treatment center in Center City, Minn., his attorney said Tuesday.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler has checked himself into the Hazelden alcohol and drug addiction treatment center in Center City, Minn., his attorney said Tuesday.
Pertler, 48, of Cloquet was stopped by a State Patrol trooper at 61st Avenue East and London Road on July 17 after other motorists and the trooper reported him driving erratically. The county attorney was charged with driving while impaired, refusing to submit to a chemical test, speeding, driving over the center line, failure to signal, possession of an open bottle and no proof of insurance. He had a blood-alcohol content of nearly three times the legal limit.
Duluth defense attorney David Keegan is representing Pertler. Keegan said his client entered Hazelden on Saturday. The Center City campus is 50 miles north of the Twin Cities. Hazelden’s website says that each patient’s length of stay is individualized and based on the client’s needs.
Pertler’s status in his own office wasn’t clear Tuesday until Keegan answered a reporter’s question of where his client was.
Carlton County Auditor Paul Gassert said that Pertler hasn’t been in the county attorney’s office since the incident and, as far as he knew, Pertler has had no contact with any county officials. Gassert has been assigned by the county to answer media questions regarding Pertler.
He was asked if the Carlton County commissioners are concerned that Pertler hasn’t been in his office.
“That’s a fair statement,” Gassert said. “They have some concerns. I would say their concerns are based on phone calls they are getting from constituents. … They don’t have any options in front of them. There are lots of rumors and innuendos, but nothing definite in front of them. They’re hoping to have something from attorney Pertler or his family about when he’s going to be back.”
Gassert said that at a County Board meeting on Monday, he and board Chairman Ted Pihlman were asked to research the board’s options regarding the elected county attorney.
“Right now, it’s a delicate situation and I have no comment for you.” Pihlman said when reached by phone on Tuesday.
Pertler’s first appearance on the pending charges in State District Court in Duluth is scheduled for Aug. 16.
Pertler joined the Carlton County Attorney’s Office in 1995 and has been the county attorney since 2005. He was an instructor at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College from 2000 until late February, when he resigned after another incident involving alcohol.
He told the News Tribune in March that he resigned his position as an adjunct instructor at Fond du Lac on Feb. 27 because he was embarrassed by his inability to communicate with students when he came to class after drinking at a bar with a boyhood friend. He said he believed his flawed ability to think that night was exacerbated by the pain medication he was taking for an injured shoulder. He said he didn’t have a drinking problem and had never sought chemical dependency counseling.