Former Norwich Alderwoman Jacqueline Caron, who rose from welfare and addiction to local political prominence, pleaded guilty Thursday to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Hartford Superior Court stemming from an incident on July 14, 2011, in Bloomfield.
Caron, 51, of 5 Treadway Ave., was sentenced to six months suspended jail time, 18 months of probation and 200 hours of community service. She was fined $500, but that was remitted by the court.
According to the police report, Bloomfield police reported spotting a vehicle with Caron inside that was stopped in the middle of a roadway at 2:48 a.m. Caron was passed out and slumped over the steering wheel, according to the report.
An officer knocked on the window for several minutes before Caron came to, her eyes bloodshot and her manner "groggy, incoherent and confused," according to the report. With her in the front seat were prescription drugs; on the passenger seat floor was an open 40-ounce bottle of beer, still mostly full.
She told police she was driving from a Hartford nightclub and had two glasses of wine and a "big glass" of Hennessy cognac.
Reached by phone Thursday, Caron said she was sorry for the mistake and was getting her life back together.
"Due to personal issues in my life, it is unfortunate that I made a bad decision," Caron said. "But my life is back on track now and I just want to pay my dues. I am truly apologetic to my former constituency."
Caron served twice on the Norwich City Council and was a sitting alderwoman last summer when the arrest occurred. That spring, her attendance at council meetings and subcommittee members on which she served dropped sharply. The usually vocal alderwoman often did not participate in many discussions or controversial issues. She did not seek re-election last November.
Caron was first elected to the City Council in 2001, when she openly discussed her rise from past personal and criminal problems. She was the top council vote-getter in 2003 and easily won re-election in 2005. She lost her seat in 2007 in a tumultuous local election that saw all but one incumbent on the council replaced. She regained it two years later.
Caron also has worked as a state legislative aide, formerly to state Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, and currently for Waterbury state Rep. Larry Butler, D-Waterbury. She also serves as clerk of the legislature's Housing Committee.
A spokesman for the House Democrats said late Thursday that "until further notice, Jackie Caron is an employee of the House Democrats office."
In 2006, Caron founded and headed the Connecticut Pardon Team, a Norwich-based nonprofit agency dedicated to helping former convicts apply for pardons for crimes committed and sentences served.