By Jim Hannah
Enquirer staff writer
NEWPORT - A judge has removed herself from the case of a Newport police sergeant charged with driving drunk, to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
Campbell District Judge Karen Thomas announced her decision Thursday, shortly after arraigning Sgt. Mark Crank on a charge of driving under the influence. The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Campbell County Attorney Justin Verst, who brought the charge against Crank, said it is common for local judges to remove themselves from cases involving police officers to avoid any notion of a conflict.
Attorney Tom Beiting of Newport appeared for the arraignment on behalf of Crank and entered a not guilty plea for his client.
A preliminary hearing is Oct. 19 in Campbell District Court.
Verst previously said he filed a charge against Crank because he was concerned the sergeant was given preferential treatment when Fort Thomas police failed to charge him after he was pulled over, suspected of driving drunk.
A cruiser video shows Crank, off duty and driving a civilian car, being pulled over on Interstate 471 but not being arrested.
Crank was driven home by a Newport police supervisor while another supervisor followed in another car.
The video shows Crank admitting to drinking earlier in the night at a Newport bar.
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