BOSTON—Jon Golnik, a Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, was arrested in 2001 for operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press.
Golnik's license was suspended. The driving under the influence of alcohol charge was continued without a finding, which allows defendants to avoid jail if they stay out of trouble. The marijuana charge was eventually dismissed.
In an interview Tuesday, Golnik acknowledged drinking and driving, but denied having rolling papers and said he hadn't smoked any marijuana. He said he was on his way home from an AC/DC concert at the FleetCenter when he was pulled over.
"I certainly had been drinking and driving," said Golnik, who was 35 at the time. "There were no rolling papers. I never admitted to smoking marijuana."
Golnik, who resells Boston College merchandise, is in a four-way Republican race for the state's 5th District. He is considered a leading candidate. Whoever prevails in the Sept. 14 primary will go on to challenge Tsongas, the incumbent Democrat.
According to the police report, an officer spotted Golnik at about 11:20 p.m. May 4, 2001, driving with a flat tire westbound on Route 2 in Arlington. The officer pulled over Golnik, who was shirtless and appeared disoriented, according to the report.
"He stated he had four beers and admitted that the alcohol had affected his ability to operate the vehicle," the report said. "Golnik's speech was extremely slurred."
Police also said they found rolling papers when Golnik emptied his pockets following his arrest and he registered a 0.18 blood-alcohol level during a breathalyzer test, more than twice the legal limit.
"Golnik admitted to Sgt. Conroy and myself that he had smoked 'half a joint' of marijuana at approximately 6 p.m.," the report added. Golnik was also found with pepper spray, but did not have a license for it, according to police.
In a memo submitted to Cambridge District Court by Golnik's lawyer, J.W. Carney, about two months after the arrest, Carney quoted the police version of the arrest, including the allegation that Golnik had been smoking marijuana.
"The defendant admitted taking hits off a marijuana cigarette which had been passed along the row at the concert," Carney wrote, and then added that "he (Golnik) is confident that the effects had worn off long before" he left the concert.
Golnik said he thinks Carney was getting his information from the police report.
The police report obtained by the AP makes no reference to the marijuana cigarette being passed along the row at the concert or to any statement by Golnik that he was confident the effects had worn off.
Golnik said he doesn't think he read Carney's memo before it was submitted to the court.
"The police said that I had done that and I said that I hadn't," Golnik said of the marijuana allegation. "It just didn't happen."
Golnik said it was his first and last arrest.