Fullerton’s former city manager Joe Felz pleaded guilty Tuesday to reckless driving involving alcohol on election night in 2016.
The Fullerton resident was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, three years of informal probation and orders to complete a three month First Offender Alcohol Program and pay a $390 fine and restitution to the City of Fullerton, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office (OCDA).
In the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016—when, let’s face facts, we all were nursing the fallout from stiff drinks—Felz recklessly drove a car into a residential area of Fullerton, where he hopped a curb and struck a tree. A witness called emergency dispatch, and a local police car was soon in pursuit as the driver unlawfully failed to stop immediately.
The driver, 58-year-old Joseph Burt Felz, was eventually pulled over and treated to a field sobriety test. Let’s just say things did not go his way; a Fullerton cop drove him home.
Due to the stickiness of the situation, the Fullerton Police Department punted the case to the OCDA, whose Senior Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Nichols won the conviction. But the office may not be done with Felz yet, as the misdemeanor count he copped to “counts as a prior conviction if he is charged with driving under the influence within 10 years,” the OCDA says.
Nor is the OCDA necessarily done with the Fullerton Police Department.
“The OCDA’s investigation and legal review of the conduct of FPD personnel in connection with this incident is still ongoing.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.