A Tontogany man who stole from his grandmother in order to buy drugs has been placed on community control.
Dustin Ward, 34, was transported from the jail Tuesday to the courtroom of Wood County Common Pleas Judge Matt Reger.
He has been in jail since August after being indicted for theft and theft from a person in a protected class, both fifth-degree felonies.
Ward pleaded guilty to those charges in December.
Defense attorney Michael Kelley said there was a joint recommendation for community control to give his client the opportunity to enter the SEARCH program, which is held at the NorthWest Community Correction Center in Bowling Green.
Ward does have a lot of priors but has had no opportunity for SEARCH, Kelley said.
SEARCH expects program participants to engage in treatment, learn pro-social attitudes, build confidence in the ability to lead a crime-free life, and prepare for community reintegration,
“Give him one last chance to get his life in order,” Kelley said.
Ward said he was always sent to prison for his offenses and was never given an opportunity for treatment.
“I’m an honest, good guy when I’m not on drugs,” he said.
When on drugs, he steals from his family, Ward said.
“I just need an opportunity to get sober. Prison is full of drugs,” he said. “I did these crimes and I do deserve being punished for it.”
Reger pointed out that Ward had been placed in a halfway house and had walked away.
“It’s hard to stay sober,” Ward said.
Reger imposed a sentence of five years of community control.
Ward must complete the SEARCH program and get chemical dependency and substance abuse treatment as recommended by adult probation.
He must have no contact with the victim.
Reger also reserved 12 months in prison for each charge, and will allow credit for time served on the first theft.
If Ward has no violations in the first two years of community control, Reger said he will reduce the term by two years.
“From now on, you can’t say the courts didn’t give you an opportunity. Here is your opportunity,” Reger said.
Ward was remanded to the custody of the Wood County Sheriff’s Office until a bed is available at SEARCH.