The Chronicle Telegram
Thursday, August 21, 2008
By Stephen Szucs
Lorain Law Director Mark Provenza was picked up on his fourth drunken driving charge early Wednesday after police said he rammed his wife's minivan into the front porch of a Lakewood house and drove away.
In a Lakewood police video taken from a dashboard camera, police follow Provenza's Oldsmobile Silhouette until it comes to a stop around 2:30 a.m. at an apartment complex several blocks from the Bunts Road home the van crashed into.
Provenza, 52, had not been wearing his seat belt, and sustained minor head injuries when his head hit the minivan's windshield, Lakewood police Sgt. Steve Spaetzel said.
"He was apparently intoxicated, and we had probable cause to charge him with driving while intoxicated," Spaetzel said.
"He wasn't saying much of anything. We don't know where he was coming from."
Provenza was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment but declined submitting to a blood alcohol test. He was also charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, as well as not wearing a seat belt, and was booked into Lakewood City Jail until someone posted his $224 bond Wednesday afternoon.
The resident of the house that was hit, Chad Henderson, said he heard the crash from his upstairs bedroom and ran downstairs to see a man, later identified as Provenza, sitting in the minivan trying to drive away.
Henderson's wife, Jeanette, said they were lucky the van didn't hit any of the home's supporting structures.
"He could have hit that column, and our bedroom could have collapsed," she said.
This isn't the first time Provenza has faced drunken driving charges, nor is it the first time he has faced the charge in Lakewood.
He was convicted of a DUI, stemming from an incident in Lakewood in 2001 in which his vehicle hit a fire hydrant.
In 2004, he pleaded no contest to a drunken driving charge after Bay Village police spotted him weaving while on his way home from a Browns game.
He was also charged with drunken driving in Parma Heights in 2000, but that charge was reduced to reckless operation in that city's mayor's court.
Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko – who has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to DUI charges and his administration – said he realizes Provenza has a drinking problem, but the decision of whether he'll keep his job will be left up to him – or ultimately, voters.
"He's got to do what's right for himself and his office, but it's ultimately Mark Provenza's decision," Krasienko said.
"Come election time, the electorate can decide, but there's an obvious lapse in judgment when it comes to alcohol."
Provenza couldn't be reached for comment.