Drug treat­ment court gains a par­tic­i­pant, loses an­other

Judge tells ex­pellee it’s ‘time to walk the walk’

The Republican Herald - - POLICE / COURT - BY PETER E. BORTNER Staff Writer Con­tact the writer: pbort­ner@re­pub­li­can­her­ald.com; 570-628-6014

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.

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