Judge advises drug offender to get help
Downingtown-area man sentenced on DUI, heroin possession charges
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.