In March, a 26-year-old Allentown man was in court facing sentencing for driving drunk when a problem of seemingly patriotic proportions came up.
I'm a soldier about to be deployed to Afghanistan, David N. Boyd told Northampton County Judge Jennifer Sletvold, complicating the sentence he might have received for crashing his car into a light pole in Easton.
Sletvold, whose husband served in the Army infantry, was willing that day to accommodate Boyd's apparent duty to his country, crafting a two- to seven-day sentence that would leave him unencumbered when he shipped out.
But authorities now believe Boyd was lying about his service, and he could face perjury charges for the story he told two months ago.
On Wednesday, with Boyd before her in handcuffs and a prison jumpsuit, Sletvold said he was unable to provide a probation officer with any basic information concerning his "imminent" deployment overseas, including his deployment papers, the number of his company or even the name of his commander.
Sletvold said that as a result, she vacated his sentence and asked the district attorney's office to investigate whether perjury charges were warranted. When Boyd failed to show for a new sentencing hearing April 11, Sletvold issued a bench warrant for him, leading to his arrest Tuesday.
Wednesday's proceeding was held to set bail for Boyd pending the renewed sentencing, which is scheduled to be held Friday. Though Boyd has already served the mandatory two-day minimum jail term for first-offense drunken driving, Sletvold ordered him held on $20,000 bail.
Boyd would need $2,000 to secure his release, an amount he said he did not have.
In setting bail, Sletvold took up the recommendation of a pretrial services officer who said Boyd has given authorities six different addresses — some of them apparently fictitious — and three times skipped court dates. Sletvold called the bail figure "generous," considering Boyd's history.
As the hearing unfolded, Sletvold did not question Boyd about his military service and she warned him of his rights against self-incrimination before he spoke.
Defense attorney Anthony Rybak urged that his client be freed pending Friday's sentencing, noting that Boyd at this point faces only a drunken driving case.
"He may face further charges, he may not," Rybak said. "Right now, it is just a DUI."
According to court records, Boyd crashed his car early Dec. 5, 2012, into a light pole at St. John and Madison streets on Easton's South Side. The wreck snapped the pole and also damaged a street sign and a retaining wall, police said.
Officers arrived to find Boyd's car unoccupied. When they found him at his then home a few blocks away, Boyd showed signs of intoxication while insisting to investigators that his car had been stolen, police said.
A passer-by at the accident scene mentioned seeing the car beforehand at a convenience store down the street, police said. Surveillance footage from the store showed Boyd leaving minutes before the crash, police said.
Boyd pleaded guilty to drunken driving and driving on the sidewalk, a summary offense. Whether he will also face perjury charges for his statements in court continues to be looked into, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Lupackino said Wednesday.
Outside the hearing, Rybak said Boyd claimed to him that he has been sent overseas before.
"He's told me he was deployed to Afghanistan one time," Rybak said. "He did one deployment."
In court, Sletvold asked Nina Reynard, a pretrial services officer, whether Boyd is now in the Army. As Boyd started to answer, Sletvold cut him off, saying the question wasn't directed to him.
"I can't confirm that," Reynard said. "He alleges to be."
Boyd isn't the first defendant at the Northampton County Courthouse whose military claims have sparked investigations.
In October 2011, 20-year-old Matthew A. Williamson of Easton swore in court that he was a Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a tour in Iraq. But his sentence on forgery and theft charges was later thrown out by Judge Paula Roscioli after his story fell apart.
Williamson publicly apologized three weeks later, telling Roscioli that he made up a story because he thought it would help him at sentencing. He was later charged with lying in court, and pleaded guilty to false swearing.
Last June, Williamson was back before Roscioli facing probation violations after picking up new charges after being released from prison, according to court records. Roscioli sent him back to the penitentiary, but not without a nod to her prior encounter with him.
Roscioli made Williamson eligible for boot camp — though one run by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and not the U.S. military.