Preble County court hears drug, probation violation cases

By Anthony Baker -

EATON — Preble County Common Pleas Court heard cases involving drugs, weapons and probation violation Tuesday afternoon. Judge Stephen R. Bruns presided.

Eric Curtis, 43, of West Manchester, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated possession of drugs. Curtis’ attorney, John Cunningham, spoke on his client’s behalf before sentence was handed down.

“The thing I really want to get across is that my client’s cooperation [with authorities] was bar none,” Cunningham said. “Despite what the state says, I don’t think it’s foolish to give him a chance at community control. He’s going to be a 44-year-old man who has the ability to learn from this.”

Curtis also addressed the court in his own defense.

“I come up here from North Carolina to run from my troubles,” Curtis said, claiming that the cheaper price of drugs in Ohio proved too great a temptation to overcome. “Now I just want to take care of my kids and take care of my woman.”

“This is a difficult call for me,” Judge Bruns told the defendant. “We’re looking at three times the bulk amount of methamphetamine.”

Bruns sentenced Curtis to 12 months of incarceration, but indicated that “the court would look with some favor” at a request for judicial release if Curtis showed a commitment to pursuing treatment.

James J. Weinert, 41, of Watseka, Illinois, pleaded guilty to charges of having weapons while under disability, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and aggravated possession of drugs. Weinert’s attorney, Kevin Lennen, asked the court to sentence Weinert to community control.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to get any help,” Weinert told the court before sentence was handed down. “The state I’m from doesn’t offer any programs.”

Judge Bruns said the defendant’s pre-sentencing investigation supported his contention that he hadn’t been given much opportunity to seek treatment.

“But your record is hard to ignore,” Bruns said. “And I have a real problem when we start mixing drugs with guns.”

Bruns sentenced Weinert to two years of incarceration with 120 days credit for time already served, but indicated he’d be amenable to a request for judicial release provided Weinert shows evidence of being committed to treatment.

Leann Furness, 26, of Gratis, failed to appear for an In Lieu of Conviction (ILC) hearing. Furness was expected to plead guilty to probation violation on charges of possession of heroin. Under the terms of the ILC agreement, her plea would be held in abeyance pending completion of a substance abuse treatment program.

The defendant’s attorney asked the court to continue Furness’ hearing until the following day. Preble County Assistant Prosecutor Gractia Manning reminded the court that Furness had also failed to appear for previous hearings, however, as well as being guilty of previous community control violations.

Judge Bruns agreed with the state’s assessment and ordered a warrant issued for Furness’ arrest.

Trevor A. Carter, 46, of Eaton, was sentenced on charges of illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto the grounds of a specified governmental facility. Carter’s probation officer claimed he had failed to show up for an appointment to be evaluated for entry into the MonDay program, a community-based correctional facility that also offers substance abuse treatment.

Carter asked the court for leniency, claiming it was “simply an oversight” that led him to miss the appointment.

“No, it wasn’t,” Bruns told the defendant. Bruns ordered Carter to be taken into custody pending evaluation for the MonDay program. photo photo

By Anthony Baker