Senator's aide pleads guilty to trespassing

March 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The former chief of staff to former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing after being arrested inside a Coast Guard station last summer. Michael Duga Jr., 32, was arrested at the Menemsha Coast Guard Station early on Aug. 25 after police found him there without permission.

Duga, of Coral Springs, Fla., also was charged with larceny and marijuana possession, but those charges were dropped with Friday's plea on the trespassing count, his attorney Al Daniels said. He was sentenced to a year of probation.

Duga was arrested a few hours after staff for John Edwards said Duga crashed a nearby fundraiser for the Democratic presidential hopeful. Duga, who has worked in Democratic politics for years, said he was expected at the event.

Cleland suspended Duga after the arrest and later fired him. Cleland, a Democratic from Georgia, said he hadn't been aware of Duga's criminal record that included drug possession charges.

On Friday, Cleland said: "He obviously needed to turn his life around and he's working hard to do that."