POUGHKEEPSIE – City Court Judge Scott Volkman sentenced former Common Council Chairperson Sarah Salem to 60 days in the Dutchess County Jail after a jury convicted her of a DWI charge in September of 2022. Salem was arrested after an accident that occurred on Main Street on February 26, 2020. The proceedings were delayed due to the pandemic that shut down the court system.
Citing Salem’s previous DWI charge in 2017, which resulted in a DWAI conviction, Volkman told Salem “The first arrest for DWI should have been a red flag,” noting that it obviously did not deter her from repeating the behavior. The veteran city court judge told Salem, prior to announcing the jail time, “I have struggled” with regard to determining an appropriate sentence. Judge Volkman also said, “Some will think the sentence is too severe while others will see it as too lenient.”
Senior Assistant District Attorney Ryan LeGrady prosecuted the case and noted that the victim that Salem hit in 2020 was present in the court and had asked for her victim statement to be read into the record. The victim suffered a knee injury when Salem’s car ran a red light and collided with the victim’s car, causing a knee injury to the victim. “This cost me eight months of my life that I missed,” the victim’s letter said, adding “Sarah should face consequences,” noting that “She deserves jail time.”
LeGrady did not recommend jail time for Salem, relying on information contained in the probation department’s pre-sentencing report that recommended two years of probation. “I believe, based on the facts and circumstances of this case, including the defendant’s prior history of alcohol-related offenses, that the appropriate recommended sentence is 60 days of electronic monitoring which would include alcohol monitoring, 3 years of probation supervision to include alcohol treatment as directed by the probation department.” As part of the mandatory sentencing, “The defendant will be required to attend and successfully complete the MADD Victim’s Impact Panel, DMV Impaired Driver’s Program as well as install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle she owns or operates.” LeGrady did ask for the maximum fines allowable for the DWI and the traffic violation of running the red light. “I believe this disposition reaches the balance of what is required to ensure that this defendant does not repeat her conduct and further endanger drivers on the roads of our county.”
Moments after the sentence was handed down, Salem was handcuffed by court officers for transport to the county jail. Her attorney, Steven Patterson immediately left the city court to rush to a supreme court to file a “stay” of the sentencing pending the outcome of an appeal. Mr. Patterson indicated that he would advise Mid-Hudson News of the supreme court’s ruling as soon as it is available.