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Ex-Official Accused of Probation Violation

Former California Energy Commission chairman and convicted drunk driver Charles R. Imbrecht has been charged with violating probation after officers said they found alcohol on his breath last week.

Imbrecht, who was not present at Tuesday’s hearing in Municipal Court, denied the probation violation charge through his attorney and was released on $5,000 bond.

Imbrecht was at his mother’s house in Ventura at about 11:30 a.m. Friday when probation officers--acting on a tip--knocked on the door to check on his compliance with probation, Deputy Probation Officer Brenda Christianson said.

The woman let the officers in, and Imbrecht emerged from another room, Christianson said.

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Imbrecht--who must abstain from drinking and submit to blood-alcohol tests on demand during his five-year probation--blew into an Intoxilyzer machine set up by the officers, Christianson said.

When the machine showed alcohol in his blood, she said, the officers booked Imbrecht into Ventura County Jail on a probation-violation charge.

Imbrecht is scheduled to appear at a Sept. 30 hearing.

The Sacramento attorney and former Ventura County assemblyman was arrested on drunk-driving charges in December. Sheriff’s deputies pulled him over and found his blood alcohol was 0.33%--more than four times the legal limit, authorities said.

Christianson declined Tuesday to reveal Imbrecht’s blood-alcohol level when he was tested Friday by probation officers.

His attorney, William Tomasi, said Imbrecht had been working as a consultant in Burbank and was staying at his mother’s house Friday while en route to Sacramento.

Imbrecht’s conviction and decision to resign from the commission, coupled with his father’s ill health, put him under a lot of pressure, Tomasi said.

“He had been attending regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and was committed to sobriety, as far as I knew,” Tomasi said. “I was quite surprised about this [arrest]. Alcoholism is a disease, and sometimes you fall off the wagon. What more can you say?”

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