UPDATED: Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough posts bond in DWI charge; arraignment set for January

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough was charged with driving while intoxicated following a Sept. 10 crash in which he allegedly struck two vehicles while driving on Grogans Mill Road in The Woodlands, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough was charged with driving while intoxicated following a Sept. 10 crash in which he allegedly struck two vehicles while driving on Grogans Mill Road in The Woodlands, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough was charged with driving while intoxicated following a Sept. 10 crash in which he allegedly struck two vehicles while driving on Grogans Mill Road in The Woodlands, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Updated: Dec. 10, 11:34 a.m.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough posted a $1,500 cash bond Dec. 9 after receiving a misdemeanor DWI charge related to a September car crash in The Woodlands on Dec. 8.

Joshua Pullen, a Texas Department of Public Safety patrol sergeant, said in an arrest affidavit that Keough was mentally and physically impaired due to zolpidem, which is sold under brand names including Ambien, when he allegedly struck two vehicles while driving Grogans Mill Road on Sept. 10. A blood sample taken from Keough following the crash showed a concentration of 155.5 nanograms per milliliter of zolpidem in his system, Pullen said.

In a statement following the charge, Keough said he was using a legal sleep aid under his doctor's orders, which was "within normal therapeutic levels" in his blood at the time of his crash.

Keough's arraignment before Judge Dennis Watson of the County Court at Law #1 is scheduled for Jan. 5 at 8:30 a.m., according to information from Montgomery County Clerk Mark Turnbull's office.


Original post: Dec. 9, 2:33 p.m.

A Class B misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated stemming from a September car crash in The Woodlands was filed against Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough on Dec. 8.

The crash occurred on Grogans Mill Road near Blue Fox Road around 7:30 a.m. Sept. 10, according to a statement made in an arrest warrant affidavit by Joshua Pullen, a Texas Department of Public Safety patrol sergeant who responded to the incident.

In the statement, Pullen said he determined Keough had been driving a Lexus SUV westbound in the right lane of the road before two collisions took place. Keough's vehicle first struck a Mazda MX-6 from behind, Pullen said, then struck a parked Montgomery County Constable Precinct 5 SUV before coming to a stop. Pullen said Keough and Precinct 5 Deputy Lonnie Harrison, who was in the driver's seat of the parked SUV, were injured in the crash and taken to Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center for evaluation and treatment.

In his affidavit, Pullen said an October lab report from the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences showed a blood sample taken from Keough at Memorial Hermann around one hour after the crash contained zolpidem, amphetamine and fentanyl, the latter of which Pullen said was given to Keough by Montgomery County Hospital District EMS workers following the crash.

Pullen said Justin Schwane, an employee at the forensic sciences institute, identified the zolpidem—which is sold under many brand names, including Ambien—as "concerning in terms of concentration" in Keough's blood and "seemed to be at a level that could cause someone to be falling asleep."

In a video statement released on his Facebook page Dec. 8, Keough acknowledged the DWI charge and said it stemmed from a sleep aid he said was prescribed legally.

"I want to make it abundantly clear to you that there was no alcohol present, there were no illegal substances present at the time of the crash," Keough said in the video. "The allegations are that my legally prescribed and physician-monitored sleep aid was in my system at the time from the night before. According to information that I've received, the sleep aid in my blood was within normal therapeutic levels, and I assure you was taken according to my physician's orders."

Keough's attorney, Conroe-based DWI lawyer Douglas W. Atkinson, also referenced the allegation's link to a prescription drug as well as Keough's work as county judge.

"Judge Keough understands the district attorney must investigate allegations concerning citizens of Montgomery County and he respects the judicial process. We have been informed that the allegations do not involve any alcohol, illegal drug, or narcotic, but rather prescription medication that is within the therapeutic range," Atkinson said in the statement. "Judge Keough has been fighting for Montgomery County citizens since he took office and nonstop during this pandemic. He has and will continue to fight to make sure Montgomery County citizens can go to work, school, church, and gather with friends and family."

While Keough's and Atkinson's statements highlighted Keough's prescription drug use at a therapeutic level, Pullen's affidavit referenced a 2013 article published by The New England Journal of Medicine concerning a study in which zolpidem levels above 50 nanograms per milliliter were cited as a risk of "significant impairment in driving abilities." Pullen said the October lab report showed Keough's Sept. 10 blood sample contained 155.5 nanograms per milliliter of zolpidem.

Based on his investigation, Pullen concluded Keough "did not have his normal mental or physical faculties" while he was driving "dangerously and erratically" Sept. 10 due to the zolpidem, and the crash could have been avoided if not for impairment caused by the drug.

In Keough's video statement, he also referenced his response to the coronavirus pandemic in Montgomery County this year and said he and his legal team will defend the DWI allegation in court.

"I am humbled and I am honored that I have the opportunity to serve, and I appreciate your support and continued prayers. I am confident that a just result in our legal system will be reached at the conclusion of this case," he said.

Keough's office did not offer further comment on the charge Dec. 9.
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2019 and is a reporter for The Woodlands edition.


MOST RECENT

Houston City Hall in rainbow lighting
Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce celebrates five years of service

The organization is open to all and serves members throughout the Greater Houston area.

Montgomery County is set to receive its largest first-dose allocation during the week of March 1. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County set to receive largest vaccine allocation yet in first week of March

Nearly 20,000 vaccine doses were allocated to the county's two vaccine hubs and several additional providers for the week of March 1.

A coronavirus vaccine is given at Memorial Hermann's mass vaccine clinic Feb. 26. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Memorial Hermann closes out 2nd round of vaccines with 7,000 distributed among 2 clinics

The clinic will continue operations through 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27.

The new Fort Bend Epicenter multipurpose facility could be used as a spot for trade shows and sporting events, could act as a large-scale shelter for county residents in an emergency and more. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Large multipurpose complex coming to Fort Bend County; Sugar Land to widen University Blvd. and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

The Woodlands Township board of directors met Feb. 24 to discuss items including winter storm recovery and a financial report. (Screenshot via The Woodlands Township)
The Woodlands officials criticize county officials over CARES Act funds management; commissioner fires back

The Woodlands Township board of directors criticized Montgomery County's methods of allocating federal coronavirus aid at the board's Feb. 24 meeting, calling the $244,000 the township received a "slap in the face."

Keith Luechtefeld spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of the storm as well as some of the reasons why so many homes saw burst pipes during the freezing weather. (Community Impact staff)
Q&A: Greater Houston Builders Association President Keith Luechtefeld discusses power, plumbing, frozen pipes after Winter Storm Uri

Keith Luechtefeld spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of the storm as well as some of the reasons why so many homes saw burst pipes during the freezing weather.

Harris County ESD No. 11 commissioners met for a meeting Feb. 25. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Harris County ESD No. 11 begins construction process on new facility

District offiicials have said they hope Phase 1 of construction will be complete by August.

Winter Storm Uri led to closures across the Greater Houston area during the third week of February. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
‘It’s been a rough year for us’: Expert explains economic effects of winter storm, ongoing pandemic in Houston region

“It's been a rough year for us economically; it's been a rough year for us public health wise. It's just been a rough year for us psychologically—first the coronavirus and then the freeze," said Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research with the Greater Houston Partnership.

Gracie Barra The Woodlands relocated to a new training center on Richards Road earlier this year. (Courtesy Gracie Barra The Woodlands)
New cosmetic services, MMA gym: 5 recent business updates in The Woodlands and northern Spring

Several businesses have recently opened in or relocated into The Woodlands area.

In addition to produce, Theiss Farms offers grass-fed beef. The family’s herd of cattle grazes in a pasture near the intersection of Spring Cypress and Stuebner Airline roads. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Theiss Farms Market owner on winter storm: 'I knew everything was going to die, and it did'

Nothing could have prepared local farmers for last week's winter storm, Theiss Farms Market co-owner Dwayne Theiss said.