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The third time wasn’t a charm for Billy Gillispie.
Gillispie pleaded guilty Monday morning to driving under the influence earlier this year in Lawrenceburg, marking the first time being charged with that offense has stuck with the former University of Kentucky basketball coach.
Gillispie was previously charged twice with driving under the influence but never convicted.
Gillispie was fined $1,028 by District Court Judge Linda Armstrong, and ordered to compete an alcohol drivers education program. His license was also suspended for 30 days. Armstrong said because his license has been suspended since his arrest Aug. 27, he must now only compete the education program before having his right to drive in Kentucky restored.
Following his guilty plea, Gillispie issued a statement though his attorney, apologizing for his actions.
“I made a mistake and admitted my mistake today to Judge Armstrong,” he said. “I accept the penalty she has imposed.
“I want to apologize to the people of Kentucky, my family and friends, and I want to thank all of those who have reached out to me over the past several months with kind words of encouragement and support.”
Gillispie’s penalties could have been more severe, according to his attorney, Bill Patrick of Lawrenceburg.
“He received the maximum fine, which he was happy to pay,” said Patrick. “He could have had his license suspended up to 120 days and had 30 days in jail. We didn’t agree to any jail time.”
County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis issued a statement following the hearing, saying that her office treated Gillispie as it would anyone else.
“No better, no worse,” she said. “In reaching a recommendation we take into account the facts regarding both the individual offense and the individual in question and the sentencing recommendation today has been both fair and equitable and the proceedings have resulted in Mr. Gillispie’s conviction for DUI.”
Along with having his license suspended in Kentucky, Patrick said Gillispie’s license is also suspended in his home state of Texas until he has completed the alcohol drivers education program.
“He was free to drive there, but our Department of Transportation will notify the equivalent agency in Texas,” Patrick said. “Texas has already indicated to Bobbi Jo that it will suspend his license, like in Kentucky.
“We hope to find a program in Texas that will satisfy the requirements in both states.”
Patrick said Gillispie is doing well following several months of negative publicity and a stint in rehab.
“He was in exceptionally good spirits,” Patrick said. “Today was the first day I actually met him ... we had spoken by phone before this. He looked very good, very healthy.
“I had a whole stack of fan mail come to my office for him, and he said he would respond to every letter he received.”
Immediately following Monday’s hearing, Patrick said he drove Gillispie to the Louisville airport, where he boarded a plane for Nebraska.
“He said he was on his way to Nebraska to look at a basketball team,” Patrick said.
“He would not say anything more specific than that, but we had a very pleasant conversation on the way to the airport.”
Patrick said he was satisfied with the outcome of the case.
“The only thing better would have been to pay $300 less in fines,” Patrick said, adding that would have been the minimum fine allowed by law. “Then he would have received the bare minimum. But he was happy to pay the additional fine to keep the license revocation to a minimum.”
Gillispie answered several questions posed by Judge Armstrong, including if he was impaired by drugs or alcohol during his appearance in court.
“No, ma’am,” he said.
Gillispie checked himself in to an alcohol rehabilitation program near Houston following his arrest in front of Emma B. Ward Elementary School by Lawrenceburg police,
Patrick said he had completed that program.
Ben Carlson is general manager of the Anderson News. The Anderson News is also owned by LCN, the parent company of the Grant County News.