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Guilty plea entered in Crystal Lake DUI case

Published: Monday, March 24, 2014 4:33 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014 9:16 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A plea deal was reached for a Crystal Lake man who previously was convicted on charges that he drove a snowmobile while drunk in a crash that killed his friend and TV anchorman Randy Salerno.

Scott D. Hirschey, 50, pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated driving under the influence, stemming from a July 2012 arrest in Crystal Lake.

Three years earlier, Hirschey was convicted in Wisconsin for the January 2008 crash that killed 45-year-old Salerno, a CBS-2 Chicago morning news anchor and Crystal Lake native.

In that case, Hirschey was driving a snowmobile built for one with Salerno on the back when he lost control and crashed about 20 miles north of Eagle River, Wis.

Hirschey pleaded no contest to homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, and was sentenced to three years probation.

For the most recent case, Assistant State's Attorney David Metnick said Hirschey was arrested about 3:30 p.m. on July 27, 2012, after a driver reported his erratic driving. He eventually struck a construction barrier and another vehicle, Metnick said.

Hirschey failed multiple field sobriety tests, and at the Crystal Lake police station had a 0.142 blood-alcohol content.

Hirschey initially was charged with a misdemeanor, but prosecutors later upgraded it to a felony based on his Wisconsin conviction.

Defense Attorney Matthew Haiduk said the prosecution was "editorializing" the specifics, but he ultimately submitted that if the case proceeded to trial, those would be the facts.

Hirschey entered a blind guilty plea, meaning there was no agreement between attorneys on a possible sentence. The plea deal was accepted by McHenry County Judge Gordon Graham.

Hirschey's guilty plea was a change of direction for the defense, who said negotiations were contentious. Hirschey was set for trial Monday, but before potential jurors were brought in, attorneys agreed to meet with Graham to discuss the facts of the case.

He faces between two to five years in prison and will be sentenced May 9.

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