Congressional Ethics Office head charged with DUI

The head of the Congressional Ethics Office has been charged with DUI and three other crimes after his car veered off a road, hit a stop sign and two parked cars and crashed into the front porch of a house last month, Yahoo News reported Thursday.

Yahoo obtained a formal criminal complaint that police filed on Sept. 28 against Omar Ashmawy. He was charged with driving under the influence, careless driving, disregard of a traffic lane and restrictions on alcohol in a vehicle, according to a public court summary of the charges.

Ashmawy, who has served as staff director and chief counsel for the ethics office for 12 years, was arrested on Sept. 10 after the incident that occurred that night in Pennsylvania. Yahoo obtained a copy of the complaint through an open records request filed with the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department, located in the northeastern part of the state.

The outlet reported that the office placed Ashmawy on leave after it was contacted about the arrest.

The office is a nonpartisan entity responsible for investigating allegations of wrongdoing against members of the House and their staff.

The co-chairs of the ethics office’s board told Yahoo in a statement that the board takes the matter “very seriously” and will conduct a review. They said Ashmawy was placed on leave to “deal with the issues” that contributed to the incident, and Helen Eisner, who has served as deputy chief counsel, will serve as acting staff director.

Ashmawy told Yahoo in a statement that the crash was a “wake-up call” that he has an issue with alcohol dependency. He said he also has some medical issues that he is dealing with, including syncope, a temporary loss of consciousness due to insufficient blood flow.

“I’ve since sought out treatment for my use of alcohol, and I’m currently in a program where I am addressing this dependency,” he said. “I‘m grateful for the continued support of my family, friends and colleagues.”

Hector Fernandez, whose house Ashmawy crashed into, told Yahoo that he was inside his home when the crash happened and then went outside, where he found his car moved about nine feet from its parking spot. Fernandez said his car was inoperable from the damage, and Ashmawy appeared “highly intoxicated” and “disoriented” after he got out of his car.

Police reports state that Ashmawy refused to take field sobriety and breathalyzer tests on the scene, and he was arrested, according to Yahoo.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1, according to a criminal docket.

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