Larbi apologizes for DUI, says he’ll serve out term

Larbi apologizes for DUI, says he’ll serve out term

PAWTUCKET – New Pawtucket School Committee member Stephen Larbi, charged with driving drunk and exceeding the I-95 speed limit by nearly 45 miles per hour last week, says he’ll serve out his two-year term on the school board even as he seeks treatment for substance abuse issues.

Larbi, who took the oath of office with other school board members on Monday, issued a statement of apology last Friday.

“First, I would like to apologize to my students, my family, my employers and to the many Pawtucket voters who have entrusted me to serve on their School Committee. I have let you down and I have no excuse for making such a bad decision,” he said. “To that end, and after conferring with my family and doctor, I will be seeking further medical care to address the causes of this bad decision-making.”

Larbi, who works as program manager at City Year Rhode Island and as director of teen programs at the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket, added that he understands his actions will have consequences and he is “prepared to deal directly with them.”

“...I have spent my entire life seeking to better myself. For the greater part of my life I have succeeded. My travels through the Pawtucket public school system to my receiving of a master’s degree have led me to a fulfilling life as a student counselor,” he said. “It has also given me an opportunity to now serve my community as an elected official. I am very proud of that work and I intend to continue to help my students and serve the people of Pawtucket while seeking additional care. Today is the first day of that process. Hopefully, and with help, I will restore everyone’s confidence in my proven abilities to help others.”

State Police last week announced that Larbi, a 30-year-old resident of 45 Sherman Ave. in Pawtucket, was one of 16 people arrested and charged with driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs over the previous two weeks.

Larbi was arrested at approximately 12:50 a.m. on Dec. 31 after troopers recorded a vehicle traveling 93 miles per hour in a 55-mile zone and operating erratically in heavy traffic on I-95 north in Providence. Police stopped the vehicle near exit 27 in Pawtucket. Larbi was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor and/or drugs, blood alcohol content unknown, first offense, and refusal to submit to a chemical test. He also was cited for speeding more than 11 miles per hour in excess of the posted speed limit, as well as laned roadway violations, following other vehicles too closely, and operating without a seat belt.

According to court records, Larbi was cited for driving with a suspended license earlier this year. He was also arrested for driving while intoxicated while at the University of Rhode Island, according to a 2011 Patch report.

He is due in Sixth District Court on Friday, Jan. 11, to face the misdemeanor DUI charges. The city’s charter has options for removing an elected official when they’re charged with a felony, but misdemeanors are a different story.

If Larbi had chosen to step down, officials said the eighth-place finisher in the November election, Jorge Gil, would have taken his spot.

Mayor Donald Grebien said he spoke to Larbi and the incoming school board member understands the severity of his bad decision.

“He has accepted responsibility, and is getting the help and family support he needs,” he said. “Having said that, however, I know the value that Steve has brought to hundreds of young kids over the years and the value he can bring to our School Committee. Hopefully, he will be able to look back some day to reflect and share this life experience to help others.”

School Committee Chairman Jay Charbonneau told The Breeze he spoke to Larbi about the situation and read his statement, but beyond that he’ll have no comment about the incident.

The arrest of Larbi and others resulted from intensive enforcement of Rhode Island laws as part of the national traffic enforcement campaign to keep intoxicated motorists off the roadways during the holidays.

“There is simply no excuse for anyone driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol,” State Police Col. Ann Assumpico said in a statement. “The Rhode Island State Police will continue to aggressively pursue, arrest and prosecute anyone who drives while under the influence, putting the lives of everyone else at risk.”

State Police also responded to 1,784 calls for service over two holiday weeks, including 975 motor vehicle stops; 123 disabled motor vehicles and 165 crashes. Troopers made 96 arrests and issued 1,076 citations and warnings for motor vehicle violations, including 417 for speeding; 92 for seatbelt and child restraint violations; and 14 for distracted driving.

The 16 arrests for driving while impaired during the holiday period also resulted in the seizure of a handgun, an illegal switchblade knife and illegal narcotics.

Comments

Did I misread or miss something, how can he be charged with DUI first offense if he's previously been arrested for the same thing as the article states?

How is he being charged with misdemeanor DUI first offense when he was charged with his first DUI in 2011???

"According to court records, Larbi was cited for driving with a suspended license earlier this year. He was also arrested for driving while intoxicated while at the University of Rhode Island, according to a 2011 Patch report."

Perhaps because the one from 2011 is no longer on his criminal record. Also, DWI and DUI are different charges.

While it is commendable that he still wants to serve the people Pawtucket, it appears the best action at this time would be to resign and deal with the issues and current charges ahead of him. Based upon recent publicity it appears that Mr. Larbi is not fit to serve.