Mashantucket tribal official facing drunken-driving charges in California

Police in Santa Monica, Calif., have charged the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe's chief of staff with drunken driving in a crash with a train last week that left his two teenage sons injured, one critically.

Antonio M. Beltran, 54, of Waterford has been charged with driving under the influence with injury involved, child endangerment with serious injury and furnishing alcohol to a minor, Lt. Saul Rodriguez, a police spokesman, said.

Beltran, who has ties to Southern California, appeared in court Tuesday and was being held by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office on $380,000 bail pending future court dates, Rodriguez said.

According to police, the crash occurred early last Wednesday morning, when the car Beltran was driving ran a red light and collided with a Metro Expo Line train at a crossing. Paramedics rushed all three occupants of the vehicle to the hospital.

The teens, both of whom are under 18, had been drinking, police said.

One of the teens suffered major head trauma and remains hospitalized in critical condition, Rodriguez said. The other teen has been released from the hospital. Beltran was arrested at the hospital following treatment.

Beltran served one term on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council from 1997 to 2000, lost a bid for re-election and unsuccessfully ran for the council again in 2009.

In 2013, the council appointed him chief of staff, with direct oversight of tribal police, fire and emergency services, public affairs, utilities, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, nongaming regulatory affairs, public works and tribal member services.

The Mashantuckets, owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino, released a statement Tuesday in response to inquiries about Beltran's status.

"Although we regret learning of the tragic accident in southern California last week involving three of our family members, we are grateful they're alive," Lori Potter, the tribe's communications director, said.

"The legacy of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation is one of survival and restoration extending hundreds of years into our past," Potter said. "We have no doubt Mr. Beltran and his sons will continue to be examples of this legacy. Their Tribe is here to help them with whatever they need to continue in their path to recovery, and they remain in our heartfelt thoughts and prayers."

In 2000, Beltran was charged with speeding and drunken driving in Norwich. The previous year, he was arrested on multiple motor vehicle charges following his alleged involvement in two hit-and-run accidents on Route 2 in Preston.

His criminal record includes a felony conviction for the 1980 stabbing of a youth in Southern California. He served a four-year prison term.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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