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Suffolk judge resigns after DWI arrest, panel says

Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice William B. Rebolini

Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice William B. Rebolini at Touro College Law Center in Central Islip in 2018. Credit: James Carbone

A State Supreme Court justice has resigned from his seat on the bench in Suffolk County following a September 2018 drunken driving arrest in Riverhead, according to a judicial commission.

William Rebolini's resignation becomes effective May 28 and he has agreed not to seek judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct said Monday.

Rebolini, 63, of Huntington, pleaded guilty in January to driving while impaired by alcohol — a violation — before a judge sentenced him to a one-year conditional discharge, 40 hours of community service, a $500 fine and $260 in surcharges, according to the commission.

A state courts spokesman said at the time of Rebolini's arrest that a Riverhead police officer had stopped the judge's vehicle after he appeared to be driving drunk. The judge declined to take a breath test during the traffic stop and his license was suspended, the spokesman said.

Rebolini initially pleaded not guilty after his arrest, Newsday previously reported.

The judge agreed to resign from office after the judicial commission served him with formal charges in January related to his arrest and an allegation that at the time he "asserted his judicial office in an attempt to avoid arrest," the commission said.

Commission Administrator Robert Tembeckjian said in a statement that judges are obliged to follow the law.

"Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious violation of law that threatens the safety and lives of pedestrians, passengers and other motorists, as well as the offending driver. It is made worse when a judge asserts the prestige of judicial office to evade the consequences of being caught," he added.

But Rebolini's attorney, David Besso, said Monday that there was no finding of guilt on the judicial charges.

"He just decided he was going to resign and as a result we were able to resolve those charges without any admission," he added.

Besso said Rebolini had been "an outstanding jurist in Suffolk County" for about three decades, "regrets having been arrested" and finished his community service, a state program for impaired drivers and voluntary counseling.

"I hope to be judged by my record of 32 years of public service and hope that with the help of so many people, I have been able to make our community a better place," Rebolini said in his resignation letter.

He has been a State Supreme Court justice since 2004 and previously was a District Court judge and a Democratic Huntington Town Board member.

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