Wednesday, March 12, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse’s cousin was arrested on charges including drunken driving after he drove onto a section of bike path by Union Station in the mayor’s city-owned car early Saturday morning.
Nicholas A. Duclos, 22, said Morse lent him the vehicle, but Morse told police his cousin took his car without permission when the two were at Bishop’s Lounge on Strong Avenue.
Duclos, of 83 Beacon Ave., Holyoke, was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, using a motor vehicle without authority, failing to stop, speeding, and violating a city ordinance by driving on a bike path.
Northampton Police Detective Corey Robinson said that Saturday at 12:34 a.m. an officer noticed Duclos drive approximately 10 mph over the speed limit on Main Street and then make an illegal right turn on a red light onto Pleasant Street.
The officer tried to pull the vehicle over, but Duclos allegedly continued down the street and then through the Union Station parking lot. Robinson said he then turned onto a section of bike path called the Nagle Walkway, which runs along the side of the Union Station building and overlooks Strong Avenue.
He stopped about 150 feet down the path, got out of his car and started walking toward police, who then handcuffed him “for officer safety,” Robinson said.
A crowd of people were watching, including patrons at the Tunnel Bar in the Union Station building, so police took him to the parking lot to administer the field sobriety test. Duclos failed the test and officers detected a strong odor of alcohol, Robinson said.
“He was visibly upset and told them that it was his cousin’s car that he had taken to get food,” Robinson said. “He said his cousin was Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.”
The Ford Taurus is city property and was issued to Morse, 25, when he took office. In a statement issued Saturday, Morse said he was cooperating with police and “had asked that all appropriate charges be filed” against his cousin.
He told police that he and his cousin were at Bishop’s Lounge when Duclos left to get some air around midnight. Morse said that when he left at 1:30 a.m. he realized his keys were not in his jacket pocket and his car was missing. He repeatedly tried Duclos on his cell phone and when his companion called Duclos, he picked up and said he was at the police station.
At that point, Morse told police, he called the police station to report that his car had been used without his permission. He claimed his car from the towing company later that morning and gave a statement to police Saturday afternoon, Robinson said. Duclos’ story differs from Morse’s in that he said he asked Morse to borrow the car to go get pizza and Morse gave him his keys.
Robinson said he did not know if Duclos had been bailed out of jail and said he would likely be arraigned Monday in Northampton District Court.
Morse said in the statement he felt “betrayed and disappointed” by his cousin’s “stupid decision.”
“I want to be clear that at no point have I sought any favorable treatment for my cousin,” he said in the statement. “What he did was unacceptable, he is family and I still love him and hope he can take time to reflect and learn from this.”
Morse issued a similar statement just a few months after taking office on Jan. 2, 2012, when his brother, Douglas Morse, was arrested on charges including heroin possession. He acknowledged his older brother struggled with heroin addiction. Douglas Morse is now serving a 2½-to-3-year state prison sentence for his involvement in the unarmed robbery of a Longmeadow Bank in March 2012, according to published reports.
Rebecca Everett can be reached at email@example.com.