GLOBE — Ernest Feight, 56, of Snowflake was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and 45 days in jail on April 19 for driving a school bus while impaired by alcohol with a Snowflake girls soccer team on board Oct. 1, 2020. They were coming home from a 6 p.m. game in Prescott, according to sources.
According to reports, once Feight drove the bus to Star Valley, he allegedly stole alcohol from a convenience store there, then drove about two miles to the parking lot of a grocery store in Payson before stopping and getting arrested. If true, that means that Feight actually drove back towards Payson instead of towards Snowflake. He was originally charged with 22 counts of child abuse, Class 3 Felonies, two count of endangerment, Class 6 felonies, two DUI related misdemeanors, and shoplifting, say court records. He was employed at the time by a company that provides school bus services to the Snowflake Unified School District.
Feight changed lawyers during the case. He was initially assigned to a court appointed attorney and posted a $25,000 bond which secured his release. Later in the case, a private attorney substituted in as counsel. The indictment was amended along the way as well, apparently to charge Feight with felony, aggravated DUI for driving while impaired with a child under 15 years of age in the vehicle. During the pendency of the case, Feight entered a rehabilitation facility.
The plea agreement was filed in court on March 15 and it called for Feight to plead guilty to two charges, aggravated DUI, a Class 6 Felony, and one count of child abuse, a Class 3 Felony; the two charges that he was sentenced for. All the others charges were dismissed.
The court had a broad range of sentencing options for Feight. For example, the Class 3 Felony carried a prison term of between two and 8.75 years. The plea agreement rather ominously stated that “Probation is available, but not guaranteed.” In the end, the judge, Timothy M. Wright of the Gila County Superior Court opted for no prison but did sentence Feight to one year in the county jail on the child abuse charge, but Feight will not have to serve the time if he successfully completes probation on that charge.
Puzzling is another court order requiring Feight serve “150” days of house arrest beginning the day we was sentenced on April 19. That is strange because the judge ordered Feight to report to the county jail at 10:00 a.m. on June 8 to begin the 45 day jail sentence. If the probation terms are written correctly, that means Feight will have only finished 50 days of the 150 days of house arrest when he reports to the real jail on June 8. With the house arrest term, Feight would wear an ankle monitor “if available,” stated the court’s order. Ankle monitors track a subject’s location at all times and some models can detect if the person wearing the monitor consumes alcohol.
Other terms of probation require Feight to abstain for alcohol and stay out of “bars or liquor stores” and maintain a crime-free lifestyle.