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Convicted W. Windsor Selectman on Leave

Selectman Bruce Boedtker is on a self-imposed leave from the board after recently agreeing to a plea deal stemming from a November incident in which police said he drove erratically and a witness said he nearly hit two pedestrians.

Boedtker, 62, pleaded guilty to a charge of gross negligent operation, a misdemeanor, in Windsor Superior Court and agreed to pay a $3,500 fine, according to court records.

Boedtker, who did not respond to messages seeking comment this week, recently notified Selectboard Chairman Glenn Seward that he was going to be unavailable to attend board meetings for an unspecified period of time.

“I received a note from Bruce indicating that he was going to be away for awhile undergoing medical treatment and he was looking forward to joining us upon his return,” said Seward, who did not provide any additional details.

Boedtker did not attend the Jan. 28 Selectboard meeting, but was present for all meetings earlier in the month, according to meeting minutes. His term expires in 2015.

An affidavit filed by Windsor patrol officer Ryan Palmer gives the following account.

On Nov. 18, police found Boedtker’s silver Hyundai on its side off Route 44, near the post office. Police earlier had received a report that the driver of the car was driving erratically.

West Windsor firefighters extricated Boedtker; he was transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with unspecified injuries.

A woman said that Boedtker had almost hit her head-on earlier in the day, and an employee at Ascutney Mountain Resort told police that the Hyundai that had driven around the resort, “almost struck two pedestrians,” and hit a ditch, sending a piece of plastic flying off the car, according to the affidavit.

Boedtker’s wife said that he had been having “unidentified medical issues” and was hyperglycemic, according to the affidavit. However, West Windsor firefighters said that his blood sugar levels were normal.

Staff at DHMC told Palmer that Boedtker’s sugar levels were normal “however ethanol levels were quite high,” according to the affidavit. Blood alcohol levels are expressed as the weight of ethanol in the blood.

Windsor County State’s Attorney Robert Sand in an interview said that authorities believe evidence would have supported a charge of drunken driving, but authorities were unable to obtain a blood sample from Boedtker in time.

Windsor police mistakenly believed they could use a blood sample taken from Boedtker at DHMC as evidence and requested that Sand’s office submit paperwork to obtain that sample, Sand said. However, such samples are considered medical property, Sand said, and cannot be turned over to police: Separate samples, taken expressly for law enforcement, are used in criminal prosecutions.

By the time authorities realized the error, it was too late to take a relevant sample, Sand said.

“I’m not faulting anyone (but) the case came to us without what is essentially the most important piece of DUI evidence, the blood alcohol level,” Sand said. “In the absence of a (blood alcohol level), we did not believe we could proceed with a DUI case. The misperception was that there was blood that had already been collected.”

Sand said the charge his office ended up is slightly more severe than driving under the influence. A DUI first offense carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $750 fine. Gross negligent operation carries a two-year maximum and a stiffer $5,000 fine. Both come with a potential loss of license. Boedtker did not have a prior record.

“We prosecuted him for a more serious crime,” Sand said. “We obtained a more significant penalty.”

Boedtker’s attorney, Jordana Levine, did not respond to a request for comment.

Windsor Police Chief Steve Soares did not respond to a request for comment. Windsor police patrol for 15 to 20 hours a week in West Windsor under an agreement reached between the towns last year.

Seward and Tom Kenyon are the other two members of the West Windsor Selectboard. Though the board would be short of a quorum if either member is absent while Boedtker is away, Seward said the town would not be hampered by Boedtker’s absence, and that preparations for Town Meeting will continue.

“The makeup of the board is great,” Seward said. “Seldom do we disagree. All three of us are focused on getting the business of the town taken care of. We look forward to having Bruce back.”

Mark Davis can be reached at mcdavis@vnews.com or 603-727-3304.