Judge ad­vises drug of­fender to get help

Down­ing­town-area man sen­tenced on DUI, heroin pos­ses­sion charges

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

The Com­mon Pleas Court judge who over­sees the Ch­ester County Drug Court cau­tioned a Down­ing­town-area man to seek help for his heroin ad­dic­tion while be­hind bars over the next year, as well as be­yond, or risk jeop­ar­diz­ing his life.

“You have got­ten your­self in a ter­ri­ble predica­ment,” Judge Phyl­lis Stre­i­tel told de­fen­dant Keith Jones, who pleaded guilty to charges of heroin pos­ses­sion and driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence stem­ming from dual ar­rests ear­lier this year.

“I see so many like you,” said Stre­i­tel, who su­per­vises Drug Court de­fen­dants and oth­ers with ad­dic­tion prob­lems. “It is a tragedy. It is heart­break­ing to see what is go­ing on with you and peo­ple like you.”

He was sen­tenced to twin 90-day to 180-day sen­tences for the DUI counts, and one to two years for the pos­ses­sion count.

As part of his sen­tence, Jones will be re­quired to get a drug and al­co­hol eval­u­a­tion and to fol­low any treat­ment rec­om­mended. Stre­i­tel urged him to find sup­port for his re­cov­ery. “This is not an easy road,” she said. “You are go­ing to be on the ice­berg all by your­self if you don’t get help. Then you face the pos­si­bil­ity of fall­ing off the ice­berg and into deep wa­ter.”

Jones, 26, of Up­per Uwchlan pleaded guilty to two counts of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs and one count of pos­ses­sion with in­tent to de­liver heroin. Ac­com­pa­nied by his at­tor­ney, Thomas H. Ram­say of West Ch­ester, Jones said he accepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for the of­fenses, and was thank­ful that he had not harmed any­one while be­hind the wheel.

“I un­der­stand the sever­ity of my prob­lem and the dam­age that it has caused,” Jones told the judge. “I’m def­i­nitely look­ing to change my life around.”

Ram­say said that his client, a grad­u­ate of Down­ing­town West High School, had been a heroin ad­dict for some years, but was nev­er­the­less sup­ported by his fam­ily, some of whom were in the court­room for

his sen­tenc­ing. “Ob­vi­ously, they are very dis­tressed at Keith’s sit­u­a­tion,” he said. “It’s a very dif­fi­cult time.”

Ac­cord­ing to As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Kevin Pierce of the DA’s Drug Unit, Jones was the driver of a car that was stopped by state po­lice in West Brad­ford around 2 p.m. June 4. The trooper be­lieved that he was too im­paired to drive safely, and in a check of the car found 232 bags of heroin. “Two hun­dred and thirty bags is a lot,” Pierce said.

That ar­rest came less than a month from an­other

in­ci­dent in May in which Jones was stopped for a traffic vi­o­la­tion and charged with DUI. In that case, there were about 10 bags of heroin found in the car.

He has been in Ch­ester County Prison await­ing trial since the June ar­rest, Pierce said. He had pre­vi­ously been charged with DUI, drug pos­ses­sion, and a firearms vi­o­la­tion, for which he is still on pa­role.

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