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Woman dies after being thrown from boat on Cass Lake

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Irene Folstrom, former Bemidji candidate, pleads guilty to DWI refusal to test

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The day after she was scheduled to appear on Sunday's CBS Early Show for yet another media interview on her college years relationship with pro golfer Tiger Woods, Irene Folstrom Masayesva was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

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Folstrom, 35, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty Wednesday, March 31, in Beltrami County District Court before Judge John Melbye to gross misdemeanor third-degree DWI - refusal to submit to chemical test.

In an interview last week concerning the upcoming publication of her book, "Phoenix," in which she recounts her battles with depression and other life challenges, Folstrom said "even though I rose from the ashes, I definitely had a dark period in my life, about two years ago."

Folstrom said some of her problems arose after she ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 2006 and mayor of Bemidji in 2008.

As it happens, Folstrom said Wednesday, she did not participate on the CBS Early Show as announced.

"They wanted pictures of me and Tiger together," she said.

She said she drew the line on that request because it's part of her private life.

Woods' Thanksgiving night crash and ensuing discovery of many extramarital affairs demanded that someone who knew him step forward in his defense, Folstrom said last week in an interview. She spoke supportively on his behalf from her relationship with Woods when they were boyfriend and girlfriend during their college years at Stanford University.

"No one was speaking out, and I guess I became the sacrificial lamb because I probably knew him the best," she said during last week's interview.

According to the criminal complaint against Folstrom:

At 12:30 p.m. Monday, March 29, the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office received a call about a vehicle that was being driven in a dangerous manner on Roosevelt Road, nearly hitting an oncoming vehicle and nearly running into the ditch. A witness described the vehicle and reported the license number.

A Beltrami County deputy made a traffic stop at the intersection of Little Norway Avenue and Roosevelt Road Southeast. The deputy identified the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle as Folstrom. She provided a driver's license, which was expired. The deputy observed the strong odor of alcohol from Folstrom, watery eyes and slurred speech. She said she had drunk alcohol the night before in Cass Lake.

Folstrom failed field sobriety tests and was taken to the Beltrami County Law Enforcement Center. The deputy administered the Implied Consent Advisory, and Folstrom was given the opportunity to consult with an attorney. The deputy took her to the Intoxilyzer Room where she failed to comply with instructions and provided "deficient samples" of her breath. The deputy offered her the opportunity to provide a blood or urine test. Folstrom said she understood but refused further testing.

Although her license was expired, a check showed that Folstrom has no prior convictions or alcohol-related loss of license.

The maximum sentence for third-degree DWI - refusal to test is one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

Folstom's attorney, Jason Pederson of Bemidji, said his client was sentenced to the three days she served in the Beltrami County Jail with no additional time imposed. She must serve three years of unsupervised probation, pay a fine of $1,000 with $500 stayed, undergo chemical dependency evaluation and follow recommendations and complete other standard probation conditions.

Pederson said Folstrom is going through a extremely taxing time in her life, but she takes full responsibility for her offense.

"She accepted responsibility from the day it happened and from her first court appearance was very forthcoming about her guilt," he said.

Y mmiron@bemidjipioneer.com

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Pioneer staff reports
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