An off-duty Homeland Security Investigations agent that was previously charged with a felony DUI following a November traffic accident has pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of a misdemeanor DUI, according to an Imperial County District Attorney official.
HSI Agent Thomas Lee entered the plea May 17, and the charge was reduced due to several factors, including the defendant’s record, victim’s opinion and extent of victim injuries, Assistant District Attorney Deborah Owen said.
The exact amount being paid to the victim hasn’t been determined yet.
“We believe in light of everything that’s there, it was a fair disposition, and it is not dissimilar to other disposition in the same circumstances,” Owen said while referring to the reduced charge. “We dealt with this case like we deal with every case.”
She said there were proof problems with one of the victims, and “that affects our analysis of the case. That would be the same regardless of who the defendant is.”
The district attorney’s office considers the disposition “fair in a large part because the defendant was willing to admit culpability and wrongdoing early on with the victim and had no prior convictions.”
Lee, 33 at the time of the incident, was represented by Drew Williams of Childers and Associates. He was arrested by Calexico police after the car he was driving struck the rear of victim Pedro Cortez’s car around 2:30 a.m. Nov. 30 on State Route 111.
Cortez, 67, lost control of his car, rolled over, and was flown out to Desert Regional Medical Center with major injuries, according to a Calexico Police Department press release at the time. A passenger in Cortez’s car was transported to El Centro Regional Medical Center with minor injuries.
Owen declined to comment on how severe Cortez’s injuries were pending discussion with the victim.
A chemical test showed Lee’s blood-alcohol level was double the legal limit.
Asked about Lee’s employment status, ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack said in an email that “privacy laws preclude us from commenting on the agent’s employment status at this time.”
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