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Judge Fled Treatment Center, Officials Say

Law: Suspended jurist Robert Bradley may have violated his probation terms by leaving early from Arizona alcoholism program, according to authorities.

August 04, 1998|COLL METCALFE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Suspended Ventura County Judge Robert Bradley has cut short his stay at an Arizona alcohol-treatment facility, a possible probation violation that could mean more time in jail, authorities said Monday.

Bradley, suspended from the bench after two drunk-driving arrests last winter, left the Prescott, Ariz., treatment center about 10 days ago, and his whereabouts are unknown, sheriff's officials said.

The department has stepped up patrols near the Ojai home of Bradley's estranged wife and officers are keeping a lookout for him. A court order forbids him from contacting her.

"Right now there's no reason to believe he's here, but there's also no reason to believe he isn't," said Sheriff's Sgt. Chuck Buttell. "Whatever is going on with him, we haven't been able to find out."

In accordance with terms of his probation stemming from the drunk-driving charges, the 57-year-old jurist entered the Prescott treatment center nearly two months ago to begin a six-month program for alcohol abuse.

Bradley left unexpectedly late last month, and according to police, has not been heard from since.

Officials at the Prescott Police Department said they had not been notified by Ventura County authorities or the treatment center about the judge's departure and are not looking for him.

Bradley is scheduled to begin serving a six-month jail term Sept. 2. He was sentenced after pleading guilty to riding his bicycle while drunk and violating an order not to contact his wife.

Bradley's attorney, Samuel Eaton of Santa Barbara, was unavailable for comment Monday on the whereabouts of his client or whether he has spoken with him.

Santa Barbara County Probation Department officials will soon decide whether to recommend that a judge rule Bradley violated his probation by leaving the treatment center before completing the program, said Deputy Probation Officer Martin Connelly.

Such a ruling could mean more jail time for Bradley, said Bill Maile, spokesman for the state attorney general's office, which handled the prosecution.

"He was required to enter and complete a rehabilitation program, and it seems as if he hasn't," Maile said. "Because we've only just learned of this, I can't comment on what course we'd take, but it could conceivably lead to a longer sentence."

Bradley has been arrested five times in eight months, most recently May 15 in east Ventura after he was seen lying on the ground, his bicycle beside him. Officers smelled alcohol on his breath.

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Bradley's troubles began Dec. 6, when, after 13 years as a Superior Court judge, he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving near his Ojai home.

On Jan. 3 Bradley was again arrested on suspicion of driving, in Santa Paula.

He pleaded guilty to both drunk-driving charges and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, plus probation. The judge served his time in a Los Angeles County jail and was released March 17.

He later admitted that he broke the terms of his probation by getting drunk again April 25 and trying to contact his estranged wife, Dorothea, four times by phone.

In that incident, he arrived at his wife's home in a taxi, and after prying open a window at the house, argued with her.

Afterward, an emergency protective order was issued that forbade Bradley from contacting his wife.

The next day, Bradley again phoned his wife to ask if she would post his bail of $5,000. She refused, and he called three more times to apologize. He was arrested again and accused of violating the restraining order.

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