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John Mehlig, deputy DA, charged with DUI -- for the third time

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What's among the quickest ways for a district attorney to undermine his credibility when it comes to prosecuting crimes? To commit crimes himself.

That's precisely what John Mehlig, a Montrose-based deputy district attorney for the 7th Judicial District, is accused of doing. He's been busted for DUI -- the third time he's been hit with such a charge. Moreover, Mehlig is the second staffer in his office to wind up on the wrong side of the legal system in the past three years. Details, photos and more below.

Back in September 2010, as we reported at the time, 7th Judicial District DA Myrl Serra was arrested for unlawful sexual contact and indecent exposure.

The subsequent release of Serra's arrest affidavit revealed disturbing details of the accusations against him. Here's an excerpt from our November 2010 post:

According to one woman, Serra suggestively asked her, "What will you do for me to get off work early?" She responded to this question by suggesting that she would bring donuts into the office, but he said he was on a diet. She then offered fruit, coffee and assorted consumables -- but Serra apparently had other things on his mind, reaching into his pants and taking out his penis. The woman said, "I do not want to do that," but according to the document, Serra didn't accept this answer, placing her hand on his penis and asking how it felt. He then said that if she would do him a favor, he'd do her a favor. She again said "no" as he touched her breast and then split as quickly as she could.

In October 2011, Serra pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual contact, and the following January, he was sentenced to one year in prison and four years of sex offender probation, according to the Denver Post.

The 7th received another black eye on November 17 thanks to Mehlig, whose latest doings have been documented by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. At 3:49 p.m. on that day, the paper reports, Montrose police officers were dispatched to the intersection of Sunnyside Road and Phillips Court, an area captured in the following interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."

View Larger Map

At the intersection, officers are said to have found a Toyota Tundra that had wound up being rudely introduced to a power pole. The damage is said to have been fairly minor, but Mehlig remained in the vehicle and apparently wasn't in the mood to cooperate. The cops actually had to physically remove him from behind the wheel, the Sentinel allows.

One reason for his reticence might be the aroma of alcohol officers noticed on his breath. And while he didn't cooperate with roadside sobriety tests, he was booked into the city's jail on suspicion of driving under the influence -- a drill with which he should be familiar given that he's gone through it a couple of times previously, albeit quite some time ago. The Sentinel points out that his record includes cuffings for DUI in 1990 and 1996.

At this writing, Mehlig is on paid administrative leave at the DA's office, which is conducting an investigation into his actions. Meanwhile, Serra's successor, Montrose District Attorney Dan Hotsenpiller, filed a motion asking that Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger handle the question of prosecution for Mehlig in order to avoid any possible conflict of interest.

There was a special prosecutor in Serra's case, too. The folks in the 7th must be getting used to this kind of thing by now.

Here's a larger look at Mehlig's booking photo.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa November 2010: "Myrl Serra: Western Slope DA's affidavits tell tales of penis exposure, in-office masturbation."

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