Galluccio fails breathalyzer tests, could face jail

Cites toothpaste in positive results

A revocation hearing has been scheduled for state Senator Anthony D. Galluccio. A revocation hearing has been scheduled for state Senator Anthony D. Galluccio.
By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / December 23, 2009

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

  • E-mail|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

Days after vowing to stay away from alcohol, state Senator Anthony D. Galluccio failed several breathalyzer tests administered as part of his probation for fleeing the scene of a car crash in October.

State officials are seeking to have his probation revoked, which could result in a jail sentence. A detention hearing could be held as soon as today to determine whether the Cambridge Democrat should be jailed until a full revocation hearing can be held. A revocation hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 21 in Cambridge District Court in Medford.

Galluccio immediately proclaimed his innocence, issuing a statement saying that the breathalyzer recorded low-level positive readings as a result of his using toothpaste, Colgate Total Whitening and Sensodyne Toothpaste. He said he made that determination after consulting with a doctor, pointing out that the toothpastes both contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that has been reported to trigger positive breathalyzer results.

“While I knew that mouthwash or cold medicine would set the machine off, it did not occur to me that toothpaste would,’’ the senator said.

Galluccio said he is “committed to sobriety and continuing treatment and . . . focused on serving my constituents,’’ yet the case is bound to remain high profile as it winds its way through the courts.

Senate President Therese Murray, who had already asked Galluccio to resign his committee posts in the Legislature, said in a statement yesterday, “We expect Senator Galluccio to comply with the terms of his probation.’’

Murray said last week that she would consult with other members of the Senate to determine whether Galluccio would be able to continue to serve in his role, given the restrictions of his home confinement, which was ordered by a judge after his October crash.

Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, whose office prosecuted Galluccio on behalf of Middlesex County officials, to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, said yesterday that he was disappointed with the results. Cruz’s office had called for Galluccio to serve jail time.

“If he is found in violation of the probation that he is currently on, then he should go to jail,’’ said Cruz. In probation surrender hearings, probation officials are responsible for hearings, but Cruz said he will offer to have a prosecutor assist. It would not be the first time a defendant cited the consumption of sorbitol in attempting to discount a breathalyzer result.

In 2006, a firefighter in Arkansas who fought his punishment for testing positive on a breathalyzer cited witness testimony by a physical chemist in arguing that the mints he ate containing sorbitol could have caused the positive result. The chemist acknowledged under cross-examination, however, that no studies proved that sorbitol causes positive results.

The firefighter was successful in his case, but the judgment was based on factors other than the sorbitol.

The 42-year-old Galluccio was sentenced Friday to six months of home confinement after pleading guilty to fleeing the scene of the crash in October, in which he rear-ended a minivan carrying a family of four, leaving a 13-year-old boy and his father with minor injuries.

Galluccio has been convicted twice before of driving under the influence, and in December 2005 he triggered a four-car accident at a downtown Boston intersection at 2 a.m. A clerk-magistrate ruled that he had been drinking, but that there was not enough evidence to substantiate a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Galluccio has refused to say whether he was drinking alcohol before the October crash. He has told reporters that, “I cannot overstate how regretful I am,’’ and that, “I made a firm decision that there will be no alcohol in my life.’’

As part of an agreement to plead guilty, Galluccio was ordered to serve two years of probation, with conditions that he abstain from alcohol, undergo random urine tests, and use a Sobrietor, a handheld device that allows officials to monitor his blood-alcohol content at home.

He has lost his driver’s license for five years, was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, and must undergo alcohol evaluation and treatment, and attend a half-day workshop by the Brain Injury Association.

The only exception to his home confinement is that he be allowed to leave home for church on Sundays and to cast a vote in the state Senate. If he violates any term of his probation, he could spend up to a year in a county jail.

Galluccio said that a probation officer installed the breathalyzer in his home on Monday and that the device issued several low-level positive readings over an hour. He is required to breathe into the device at random times every day.

John Ellement and Andrew Ryan of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Milton Valencia can be reached at