Frank Coonelly facing DUI charges

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly faces four drunken driving-related charges after an incident on Dec. 22 in suburban Pittsburgh.

Police in Ross Township, Pa., charged Coonelly, 51, with one count each of drunken driving, driving the wrong way, careless driving and driving with a blood-alcohol content of at least twice the state's legal limit of .08.

The DUI charges are misdemeanors. Driving the wrong way and careless driving are summary offenses. Coonelly waived his right to a hearing on Feb. 1 and was released on his own recognizance. His arraignment is March 20 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

Coonelly arrived Thursday at the Pirates' training complex, but did not speak with reporters. The team issued a statement from Coonelly and Bob Nutting, the Pirates' principal owner.

"My actions that evening were irresponsible and wrong," Coonelly said. "I take full and sole responsibility for them. There is no excuse for ever driving under the influence of alcohol. My conduct that night was uncharacteristic to my personally held values."

Coonelly said he apologized to his family, as well as to Nutting and others in the Pirates front office. Nutting said Coonelly contacted him "immediately" after the incident.

"I expressed my extreme disappointment in his actions," Nutting said. "I know ... he clearly understands the seriousness of his poor decisions, the harm that could have been inflicted on others and the embarrassment his mistakes have caused the organization."

Coonelly was hired on Sept. 13, 2007, shortly after Nutting took control of the team from former owner Kevin McClatchy. Before joining the Pirates, Coonelly was senior vice president and general counsel of labor for Major League Baseball.

Before joining the commissioner's office, Coonelly practiced labor and employment law in Washington, D.C. He also represented several clubs in salary arbitration matters.

"In the years I have gotten to know Frank personally, I have learned he is a dedicated husband and father who has strong values that are grounded in his family, religion and hard work," Nutting said. "These mistakes are not characteristic of the man that I know and I am confident he has learned from them."