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Friday 19 September 2014

Priest charged with possessing cannabis and a gun while drink-driving

Kashmira Gander

Published 02/04/2014 | 09:15

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Father Sean P. Thomson handed over a receipt when he was asked to show an officer his vehicle registration

A Catholic priest was arrested in the US state of Alaska for allegedly being armed with a gun and in possession of a packet of marijuana while drink-driving.

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University of Alaska Fairbanks campus priest Father Sean P. Thomson was pulled over by trooper Christopher Bitz on 24 March when traffic police spotted that he was speeding and weaving his pickup truck on a rural highway near McKinley Village, according to a criminal complaint seen by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Bitz said Thomson was disoriented during the traffic stop and admitted he was drunk, according to the complaint.

When Bitz asked the priest to present his vehicle registration, the 52-year-old handed over a receipt.

While Thomson alerted Bitz to the 357-caliber handgun stashed in the back of the truck, he forgot to say he had a 9mm handgun in his back pocket, the newspaper reported.

The trooper soon found the handgun in priest's pocket, as well as a small bag of marijuana in his jumper.

Bitz wrote that the priest refused to take another alcohol test, described as more accurate.

He then arrested the priest for drink-driving, refusing to take an alcohol test, possessing drugs, carrying a firearm while intoxicated and not telling the trooper he was carrying the handgun.

Thomson has since pleaded not guilty at an initial court hearing and has been released on $5,000 bail. He remains a priest for the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks but has been placed on administrative leave, Ronnie Rosenberg, legal coordinator and the director of human resources for the diocese told the newspaper.

He will appear at Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks on Friday.

Independent News Service

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