Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate

After AG's Office didn't prosecute, DA picks up the case

Former Del Norte County District Attorney Mike Riese is facing a driving under the influence charge, again.

Shasta County Deputy District Attorney Terry Powell was sworn in as a special prosecutor for the Del Norte DA's Office on Wednesday and filed charges of driving under the influence of a drug and public intoxication against Riese. Both charges stem from an arrest last April.

"Prosecution was totally a result of an independent evaluation by the Calfornia District Attorneys Association, Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor's Office, which recommended the filing, and subsequent independent decision by special prosecutor Terry Powell," said District Attorney Jon Alexander.

The filing follows a decision made by the state Attorney General's Office to not prosecute Riese for the arrest. Gerald Engler, senior assistant attorney general, stated it is the office's policy not to divulge reasons for not prosecuting certain cases.

On April 19, authorities were alerted by an anonymous caller who was following Riese's truck and described it as being driven erratically around 5 p.m., authorities said at the time. There were subsequently several more related calls, authorities stated, and he was arrested outside of Y Liquors in north Crescent City.

One of the callers was an employee of the store who told the Triplicate he had escorted Riese out of the business due to odd behavior.

Riese walked into the store and purchased a popsicle, then began asking about wine, the employee said. Riese began tensing in what appeared to be spasmodic movements before he strolled through the store for several minutes looking at beer, wine and liquor, the employee said.

At one point, Riese had a wine bottle in his hand and was speaking in German, the employee said.

The California Highway Patrol eventually made contact with Riese in the parking lot after he was detained by Crescent City police officers.

Riese was given a field sobriety test and failed, authorities said.

He was then transported to the CHP office off Parkway Drive and given a more extensive drug evaluation, authorities said. Riese also submitted to a blood test, authorities said.

In an interview with the Triplicate the day following the arrest, Riese said that from his perspective he passed every test authorities gave him and he denied driving under the influence at any time.

When the Triplicate contacted Riese on Wenesday, he said it was the first he had heard about the charges.

"This is exactly what happened last time," said Riese. "It has nothing to do with being fair, just or doing the job as DA."

He stated that in his time as a prosecutor he never waited 11 months to file a DUI charge.

He was the county's district attorney for two terms before being voted out in the June 2010 primary.

In an unrelated case, Riese was acquitted of charges, including driving under the influence and child endangerment, after a five-day trial last February.

Those charges were brought by the state Attorney General's Office two months after authorities contacted Riese in the Safeway parking lot in August 2011. A store empoyee called the police to report Riese's odd behavior, authorities said.

At the time of the incident, Riese was detained - although never given a sobriety test or blood test - and then released.

Last June in Oregon, Riese was given a one-year deferred sentence for possession of a controlled substance - Fentanyl, a narcotic analgesic and sedative - under the stipulation that he would complete a rehab program.

That sentence stems from two incidents in Curry County in December 2011 when he was accused of using forged prescriptions to purchase a controlled substance.

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