St. Joseph County Sheriff Mark Lillywhite was sentenced to 12 months probation, ordered to pay more than $1,000 in fines, and will have his concealed pistol permit revoked after pleading guilty Monday in Kalamazoo County Eighth District Court to operating while intoxicated, and carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence.
Lillywhite was arrested in the early morning hours of February 26 after he struck another vehicle from behind in Schoolcraft Township. Lillywhite was traveling at a speed in excess of 96 miles per hour, causing both vehicles to leave the roadway, and the second vehicle to roll. Occupants from both vehicles suffered minor injuries.
Witnesses at the scene reported that in addition to traveling 40 miles per hour beyond the posted speed limit, Lillywhite was allegedly driving without headlights at 2:18 a.m., when the crash occurred. During the investigation into the crash, Michigan State Troopers detected signs of intoxication while speaking with Lillywhite. Following standardized field sobriety tests and assessments, Lillywhite was subsequently arrested and lodged in Kalamazoo County Jail. It was later determined that Lillywhite’s blood alcohol content at the time was 0.25, three times the state’s legal limit of .08.
It has been 57 days since the incident in question, and the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department nor the county government have made an official statement in regards to Lillywhite’s status with the department he oversees. Watershed Voice has made numerous attempts to speak with Undersheriff Jason Bingaman on the matter, including this afternoon, with no success.
Alek Haak-Frost is executive editor and publisher of Watershed Voice.