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The Villages
Saturday, June 15, 2024

79-year-old Villager to make plea for freedom in hearing next month

Paul Saunders
Paul Saunders

A 79-year-old Villager will make a plea for his freedom in a bond hearing next month in Sumter County Court.

Paul Saunders of the Village of St. James will be in court June 20 for a violation of probation hearing. He has been lodged since May 16 at the Sumter County Detention Center. His probation violation stems from his failure to show proof of recommended treatment for substance abuse and failure to show proof of completion of random substance testing.

Saunders had been driving a black Lexus shortly before 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 2021 when he crashed the vehicle at the roundabout at Buena Vista Boulevard and St. Charles Place. The Lexus became “engulfed in flames.” 

An investigator from the Florida Highway Patrol was summoned to the scene and suspected that Saunders had been drinking as he had the “distinct smell of an alcoholic beverage” and had to be “seated to prevent him from falling and injuring himself,” the arrest report said.

Saunders performed poorly in field sobriety exercises. He initially refused to provide a breath sample, but relented. However, he was “unable to provide a sufficient sample for his blood alcohol content to be determined,” the report said. He blamed an unnamed “medical ailment” for his inability to provide the sample.

The native New Yorker later pleaded no contest to a charge of driving under the influence. He was placed on probation, lost his driver’s license for six months and was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. He was also ordered to seek a substance abuse evaluation and follow any recommended treatment.

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