After Registering 0.00 on Breath Alcohol Test, Woman Sues Bonneau Police Chief Over DUI Arrest

Bonnea Police Chief Franco Fuda.

South Carolina – A rural Berkeley County police chief is being sued by a woman who claims she was unlawfully arrested and imprisoned despite blowing 0.00 on a breath alcohol test.

The legal limit is 0.08 for a driver to be considered impaired.

Wendy Iacobucci of Aiken filed a federal lawsuit in Charleston on Feb. 13 naming Bonneau Chief Franco Fuda, Mayor Robert Wrenn, the town and the police department as defendants.

Iacobucci was driving through Bonneau on Dec. 31, 2015, when she was pulled over by Fuda on U.S. Highway 52 for allegedly driving 12 miles over the 45 mph speed limit, according to the lawsuit.

When she told Fuda she was a registered armed security officer working for a private contractor and had two guns in her vehicle, Fuda said he believed she “was ‘full of poo poo’ and continued to threaten, intimidate and belittle her,” according to the suit.

While searching the vehicle for the guns, the chief found a plastic container containing bottles of Iacobucci’s children’s prescription medicines.

He then administered a field sobriety test and arrested the woman on six charges: speeding, unlawful concealed weapon, driving under the influence and three narcotics violations.

She was taken to the county’s Hill Finklea Detention Center, where the breath test was given. When the test “confirmed that there was no alcohol whatsoever in (Iacobucci’s) system,” Fuda had her submit a urine test that was sent to the State Law Enforcement Division for evaluation, according to the suit.

She was booked into the detention center, where she spent the night before being released on $8,835 bail.

On March 2, 2016, SLED issued a toxicology report confirming that there were no drugs or prescription medications in Iacobucci’s system at the time of the incident, but despite several requests by her lawyer, Fuda did not drop the charges, according to the suit.

After a hearing in March 14, 2017, a judge dismissed all of the charges.

Iacobucci has “endured fright, anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, mental anguish, emotional distress and depression” as a result of the experience, according to the suit.

She was also fired from her job and her car was repossessed.

The tiny town is known for its heavy-handed policing.

In 2011, town clerk of court Liz Wrenn, the mayor’s wife, said in an interview with Columbia’s WIS-TV, “the town survives off the ticket revenues its police department issues.”

Wrenn “made the policy decision to raise money for the Town of Bonneau” by enabling Fuda’s actions, the suit says. “Fuda’s behavior was the greatest revenue stream for the town that desperately needed the money.”

In addition, the defendants have ignored a June 2017 Freedom of Information Act request seeking all documents related to the case, according to the lawsuit.

Iacobucci’s lawyer, Christy Fargnoli, declined to comment on the case.

Fuda declined to comment on the advice of his lawyer. Wrenn did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comments.

Fuda, the town’s chief since 2000, brought the national spotlight to the town in 2011 when he wrote a $445 ticket to a woman because he deemed the red “truck testicles” hanging from her 2004 Dodge a violation of the state obscenity law.

Over the years, he has also faced complaints of unprofessional conduct and racial bias, and according to a 2007 SLED report, had sex with a woman on the judge’s chair in the town’s courtroom. He has said he was cleared of wrongdoing in that investigation.

Fuda, who ran for sheriff in 2014, has also received several statewide awards for his DUI enforcement work and was lauded for his actions in the capture of two fugitives in 2012.

In February 2017, he used his own money to replace a stolen bicycle for an autistic boy, according to news reports.