Leader of common council arraigned in Poughkeepsie

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Council Chair Sarah Salem, on right, being placed in handcuffs by a City of Poughkeepsie Police Officer on February 26.

POUGHKEEPSIE – Sarah Salem, chairperson of the Poughkeepsie Common Council, was arraigned Wednesday on DWI charges stemming from a February 26 incident that resulted in their arrest by City of Poughkeepsie police.

Salem was originally scheduled for arraignment in March but the date was pushed back by the COVID-19 court closures.

Judge Frank Mora held the first “in-person” arraignment on Wednesday with Salem as the defendant, represented by attorney Steven Patterson.  Dutchess County Assistant District Attorney Erin Ginty represented the prosecution as Salem entered a plea of not guilty.  Salem was forced to surrender their New York State driver’s license and the chairperson’s right to operate a vehicle has been suspended pending prosecution, according to Judge Mora.  The next court appearance is scheduled for August 12, 2020, at 9 a.m.

Sarah Salem has their temperature taken by a court officer prior to arraignment.

Police say that on February 26, Salem was driving drunk on Main Street, ran a red light, and struck another vehicle.  The operator of the second vehicle was traumatized during the collision and has been receiving medical treatment for their injuries.  Details of the incident can be found here.

Salem was previously arrested for DWI by the State Police in January 2017.  That case resulted in a conviction of lesser charges.

Salem has faced criticism for failing to address the issue.  At the first meeting following the second DWI arrest, Salem started the meeting by saying “I was in an accident last week,” adding that they were “incredibly grateful that nobody was injured” while failing to address the subsequent DWI charge.  Several members of the public chose to address the issue.  Those comments can be found here.  The City of Poughkeepsie Republican Committee also issued a statement calling for Salem’s resignation.

Salem ignored questions seeking comment outside of the courtroom on Wednesday.