Drunken mower rider gets jail
In court for probation violation, Michael Kocur asks judge for help with problem.
August 21, 2002
By Jon Hand
In the end, it wasn't just his drunken jaunt on a lawn mower or excuses about a rancid dollop of mayonnaise that landed Michael Kocur in the county lockup: It was his own plea for help.
Kocur on Monday asked Cayuga County Judge Peter E. Corning to help him get control of his alcohol dependency problem. Corning, after giving Kocur two previous chances to stay out of jail, gave him a yearlong sentence in the county jail.
Kocur's appearance in Corning's court Monday was not voluntary. He violated his probation Sunday by showing up for his court-imposed community service while under the influence of alcohol.
His blood alcohol level of .09 was just under the legal limit of .10, but Kocur is not supposed to be using alcohol at all as a condition of the probation, said his lawyer Norm Chirco of Auburn.
"He told the judge, 'Judge, I need help'," Chirco said.
Kocur, 39, of Port Byron, was first arrested in July 2001 for driving a riding lawnmower while intoxicated. At the time of his arrest, Kocur was towing a friend in a wagon and picking up cans and bottles along Centerport Road in Mentz. It was his fifth drunken-driving offense, the first involving a lawn mower.
He pleaded guilty to felony driving while intoxicated and was sentenced in May to spend a year of weekends on the county jail inmate weekend work crew.
But this month, Kocur was brought before Corning because he had twice failed to appear for his weekends of community service. Both times he claimed he was sick, once because he had eaten some "bad mayonnaise" and didn't think he could work and go to the bathroom at the same time.
Corning again gave him a chance to stay out of jail but insisted the work weekends be completed without interruption. That interruption came Sunday, when he showed up intoxicated.
Kocur's troubles have gained him attention from some unlikely sources, including mentions by radio personality Howard Stern and late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien, Chirco said.
Stern's office even called Kocur for an interview, but he and Chirco declined to speak with the New York City-based radio show.
Chirco said Kocur is well-meaning but has an alcohol-abuse problem and possibly a streak of bad luck.
Stripped of his license and apprehensive about using any motorized type of vehicle because of his past run-ins with the law, Kocur has been opting for a safer form of transportation over the past few months: a bicycle.
Not safe enough, apparently.
Kocur told Chirco last week that he struck a deer while riding the bike in July.
"It just jumped out and he hit it," Chirco said. "He wasn't hurt, he just went over the handlebars, but that is what this guy's luck is like."