Former federal prosecutor crash scene, sobriety test
Troy Police Officer Bryan Brown was working a traffic accident on U.S. 40 when he spotted a smoking 2009 black Cadillac missing a headlight drive past him.
Former U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton, slurring his speech and smelling of alcohol, was behind the wheel when Brown stopped the car with heavy front end damage, according to Brown’s report obtained Friday under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Wiggonton was later charged with failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident, leaving the scene of an accident, driving with one headlight and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Attempts to reach Wigginton were unsuccessful Friday.
Wigginton, who now works for St. Louis law firm Armstrong Teasdale, told Brown that he had a “glass of vodka” while out to dinner with clients earlier on the night of May 23. While taking the exit onto U.S. 40 from Interstate 55/70 at about 10 p.m., Wigginton’s car ran off the road, according to the report. Wigginton traveled about 100 yards in the grass, crashed through a fence, drove out of the ditch and back onto Troy Road and then went to U.S. 40 where he was spotted by Brown.
Wigginton told the officer that he called for help after the crash, but left when no one arrived. Brown stopped him about a mile and half from the crash. The reports noted that Wigginton was wearing a suit coat, dress shirt, slacks and no tie when he was stopped.
As Brown addressed the driver, the former U.S. Attorney initially ignored him
“You know who I am,” Wigginton told Brown when he asked for Wigginton’s license.
Brown told him he didn’t.
“Your boss does,” Wigginton told Brown, according to the report.
He later provided his license and an expired insurance card.
Police evidence photos showed vegetation embedded in the Cadillac’s grill.
“While speaking with Wigginton, I could hear a grinding noise coming from the vehicle’s engine area. Due to the heavy damage on the vehicle, I asked Wigginton to turn off the ignition for safety reasons,” Brown wrote. “He agreed to do so and fumbled with the ignition while attempting to turn off the vehicle.”
Brown also noted that Wigginton appeared slow to respond. His actions were “slow and lethargic.”
Brown tried several field sobriety tests, but Wigginton could not complete them, the report stated. Video shows Wigginton unsteady on his feet.
Wigginton mentions to Brown that he was a Madison County prosecutor for more than 10 years and a St. Louis city prosecutor for 12 years before becoming a U.S. Attorney, but he could not understand the instructions for the field sobriety test that Brown gave him.
“I’m being as cooperative as I can be,” Wigginton tells him.
After failing to complete all the field sobriety tests, Brown arrested Wigginton and took him to the Troy Police Department for booking and fingerprints. Wigginton refused to answer questions, the report stated. Wigginton declined to to take a breath alcohol test. He was released when his wife posted $100 bail.
Wigginton received a notice that because he refused to take the breath alcohol test, he is subject to having his license suspended for a year.
Before being appointed as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois by U.S. President Barack Obama, Wigginton obtained a $5 million verdict against the Belleville Diocese in a civil case alleging sexual abuse of an altar boy by former priest the Rev. Raymond Kownacki. While U.S. Attorney, Wigginton prosecuted former St. Clair County Judge Mike Cook, who faced charges for heroin possession, and former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon, who was convicted of rigging the auctions of delinquent property taxpayers in order to favor bidders who contributed to his campaign fund. Wigginton resigned as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois in November 2015.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said Wednesday that he would ask a special prosecutor to handle the case against Wigginton, who formerly worked as an assistant state’s attorney in Madison County prosecuting felony cases before becoming a U.S. Attorney.