SALEM — As a public official, Patrick McDougall was known for speaking his mind when it came time to cut budgets and rein in spending.
But yesterday, McDougall’s tendency to speak out — especially on Facebook — nearly got him in more trouble as he serves suspended jail sentences on disorderly conduct and obstructing government administration convictions.
Circuit Court Judge Michael Sullivan instead agreed that the former Salem Budget Committee and Zoning Board of Adjustment member had complied with his orders, even though the prosecution raised questions about McDougall’s Facebook comments.
McDougall, 38, served two days in jail in January and received a 28-day suspended sentence for interfering with paramedics trying to transport his wife, Jane, to the hospital.
She had called 911 in June 2012 and complained of a severe headache. McDougall later said he drove his wife to the hospital himself because they could not afford an ambulance.
McDougall appeared in court yesterday to prove to Sullivan he was making progress and did not need to serve the additional jail time. It will remain suspended for 18 months.
“I was abrasive that night, I was out of line,” he said. “Doing 48 hours in the county prison finally gave me an appreciation that I want to be a better person.”
McDougall told the judge how he has nearly completed his anger management counseling and put in his required 50 hours of community service. He said he worked at the Salem Animal Rescue League, the American Legion and the Salem Recreation Department
“I learned from my lessons and I want you to know that,” McDougall told Sullivan. “I want to be a better father and a better husband.”
The couple have a 7-year-old son.
Prosecutor Jason Grosky agreed McDougall had complied with the judge’s orders, but said he needed to be careful about his comments on social media.