PEABODY — A mother and son have admitted to charges stemming from a 2011 underage drinking party at their Peabody home, where another teenager drank enough alcohol to register a 0.2 blood alcohol level when he crashed his car into a house after leaving the gathering.
Deborah Arnott, 42, and her son Brandon Arnott, 18, both of 31 Elizabeth Lane, were charged following the Dec. 10, 2011, house party where Robert Habeeb Jr. and 19 other teens were guests, said a spokeswoman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.
Habeeb, 19, was sentenced this past November to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to drunken driving and driving to endanger. He was nearly killed when the Chevrolet Monte Carlo he was driving at 109 mph hit a stone wall and then a house near his home.
A teenage girl who also drank at the party was arrested that night on drunken-driving charges but was later acquitted.
On Wednesday, both Arnotts appeared in Peabody District Court, where Deborah Arnott pleaded guilty to violating the social host law by allowing the teens to drink in the home and Brandon Arnott admitted to sufficient facts on a charge of misleading police.
Deborah Arnott was sentenced to a year of probation and fined $500 by Judge Richard Mori. Prosecutor Aimee Conway had been seeking a sentence of at least six months behind bars, as well as additional suspended time and probation.
Her son’s case was continued without a finding for 18 months, after Brandon Arnott’s lawyer, Carmine Lepore, raised concerns about the effect a felony conviction would have on the teen’s ability to attend college or get jobs in the future.
The prosecution had also sought six months in jail for Brandon Arnott.
Conway told Mori during the hearing that Deborah Arnott “ignored her responsibility” as a parent when she arrived home at 10 p.m., found the teens in her house and then went to bed. She allegedly told the teens to sleep over that night.
Her actions, Conway said, put not only the teens but the community at risk.
Brandon Arnott, meanwhile, tried to “derail” the Peabody police investigation in the case by deliberately misidentifying the source of the beer at the party that night, according to prosecutors. He was charged under the state’s witness intimidation statute, which includes hindering an investigation by misleading police.
Conway had been seeking both committed jail time and a suspended portion of the sentences.
Brandon’s lawyer, Carmine Lepore, said his client was 16 at the time of the party and had just turned 17 when police interviewed him. Prior to the party, he had no involvement with law enforcement, said Lepore, who called the request for jail time “over the top.”
“Hitting somebody with a felony conviction in this day and age has a terrible effect on somebody’s future,” Lepore said he told the judge.
The continuation without a finding means that if Brandon Arnott stays out of further trouble for 18 months and completes all of the conditions set by Mori, including 50 hours of community service, a letter of apology and $250 restitution to the Peabody police, and attendance at a brain injury awareness program, the charge will be dismissed.
His mother will also be required to attend the brain injury awareness program as a condition of her sentence.
Lepore said Mori gave his client a lecture.
“He made it clear to Brandon that he should take advantage of the opportunity he’s being given,” Lepore said.
The case had originally been scheduled for a hearing on a motion to suppress statements to police by the teen, Lepore said.
“These defendants’ egregious actions demonstrated a total disregard for the law, which justifies the commonwealth’s request for committed time,” Blodgett said in a statement announcing the outcome of the case. “The adult failed in her responsibility to ensure the safety of the children at her home, and her son repeatedly lied to police during the investigation. Two teenagers left their home and were charged with driving while intoxicated, thus endangering themselves and the rest of the community. One of those teenagers is, frankly, lucky to be alive right now.”
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.