Drug treatment court gains a participant, loses another
Judge tells expellee it’s ‘time to walk the walk’
POTTSVILLE — An Orwigsburg man is headed to state prison, as a judge expelled him on Thursday from Schuylkill County Drug Treatment Court and promptly sentenced him for three sets of crimes.
Jeremy C. Hess, 32, must serve two to five years in a state correctional institution, although he can participate in the state’s boot camp program, Judge James P. Goodman decided during the court’s weekly session.
“There is a time to walk the walk,” Goodman told Hess, who admitted being unsuccessfully discharged from a treatment facility, using drugs, drinking alcohol, associating with a drug user and lying about his drug use. “You have to stay clean.”
As Hess left the program, Stephanie N. McEntee, 40, of Shenandoah, entered it, as Goodman admitted her into drug court following revocation of her parole and probation in two cases. Goodman ordered her to spend 24 months in the intermediate punishment program, starting with longterm inpatient treatment.
“You want to take advantage of that,” Goodman told McEntee.
Schuylkill County officials started the drug treatment court in 2017 to try to combat the widespread local drug addiction problem, using a carrot-and-stick approach to help participants beat their addictions. Other counties in Pennsylvania also have instituted drug treatment courts.
Participants in the 14-month program must undergo substance abuse treatment, make regular court appearances, submit to random drug testing and home visits, meet with probation officers and comply with directives from the court and those officers. Participants must complete all five phases in order to graduate from the program; graduation is the carrot, resulting in dismissal of the charges against them.
However, since the participants tender guilty pleas to the charges against them, failure to complete the drug treatment court program is the stick, resulting in the pleas being accepted and the defendants being sentenced, quite possibly to time in a state correctional institution, as happened to Hess.
Lynn Holden, the treatment court coordinator, said there are 32 people in the program, with McEntee’s entry canceling out Hess’ expulsion.
Hess originally tendered his guilty plea on July 20, 2017, to theft from a motor vehicle, theft, receiving stolen property and theft by deception in one case, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and conspiracy in a second case and two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one of possession of drug paraphernalia in the third case. The plea was held in abeyance while Hess was in the program.
Schuylkill Haven borough police alleged Hess committed the theft on June 16, 2016, in the borough.
The state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation alleged Hess participated in a conspiracy and possessed a salable amount of drugs on July 21, 2016, in North Manheim Township.
Minersville police charged Hess with possessing drugs and paraphernalia on Sept. 14, 2016, in the borough.
“I screwed up,” Hess admitted. “I hated it. I’m not going to use again.”
McEntee pleaded guilty on April 19, 2017, to retail theft and driving under suspension in one case and two counts of accident involving damage to attended vehicle or property and one each of license violation and driving under suspension in another. At that time, Judge John E. Domalakes sentenced her to serve three to 12 months in prison and 11 months on probation, and pay costs, $400 in fines, $100 in payments to the Criminal Justice Enhancement Account, a $50 bench warrant fee and $436 restitution.
Since McEntee already has been sentenced in her cases, she will not be eligible to have charges dismissed if she successfully completes the program.