A Richwood man will spend the next five years behind bars after being sentenced Tuesday in Upshur County Circuit Court for delivery of a controlled substance and for driving on a revoked license.
Steven James Thomas was also ordered to pay all associated costs and fines within three years. He had hoped to receive an alternative sentence which would have allowed him to enter a private rehabilitation facility in Florida. But because none of the court officials were aware of this program and because of Thomas' extensive criminal history, Judge Thomas Keadle opted to sentence Thomas to the penitentiary where it was recommended he receive the necessary substance abuse counseling.
"You have never really accepted responsibility for your misdemeanors," Keadle said. "Some times when you want to dance, you have to pay the fiddler. You are at that point."
Keadle outlined a laundry list of criminal charges dating back to the 1990s in Nicholas, Lewis and Upshur counties, asking if Thomas had fully paid the costs, fines or restitution. Thomas only answered that he had paid "some," explaining he had very little money left over after his $710 monthly check was used to pay for rent, food and utilities.
"The simple solution to that problem is to quit violating the law, so you don't get these fines," Keadle said.
Tonya Thomas, the defendant's wife, testified that she would have a difficult time providing for herself and the couple's four children should her husband be sent to prison. She testified that her husband and herself have had a drug problem since they have been together for the past 14 years. She said they both attend Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings in the Richwood area.
"I know I done wrong," Steven Thomas said. "Once you get on drugs, it's hard to quit. I would like to go to rehab for six months, a year, whatever it takes, not just two weeks."
But Keadle refused to allow the Thomas family to travel to Florida to participate in a program with which he and others were not familiar with.
"It would be like sending him out into the wilderness somewhere and hope something good happens to him," the judge said.
In other matters, a Knoxville, Tenn., man was placed on five years of probation after being convicted of attempted malicious assault.
Dewight Smith will also be allowed to move to Wood County to live with family members, and the supervision of his probation will be transferred to officials there. Smith had served 221 days in jail since being arrested in June 2012 following an altercation at the Bobcat Lounge in Buckhannon.
Keadle also ordered that Smith submitted to mental health counseling, should those services be available in Wood County.
A Buckhannon man was also placed on five years of probation and ordered to $15 in restitution to the Upshur County Sheriff's Department after being convicted of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.
Joshua Poling will have to pay an $11 monthly fee to cover the costs of Community Corrections programs and his probation supervision, and he will have to pay any other costs associated with the case within the next six months.