Preble County Common Pleas hears drug, breaking and entering cases


By Anthony Baker - abaker@aimmediamidwest.com



Preble County Common Pleas Court heard cases involving drugs and breaking and entering on Wednesday, April 7.

Preble County Common Pleas Court heard cases involving drugs and breaking and entering on Wednesday, April 7.


Anthony Baker | The Register-Herald

EATON — Preble County Common Pleas Court heard cases involving drugs and theft on Wednesday, April 7. Judge Stephen R. Bruns presided.

Joseph H. Hodapp, 31, was sentenced on charges of breaking and entering and tampering with coin machines. Hodapp’s previous record includes charges of theft, escape, trafficking in marijuana, and possession of heroin.

Defense attorney James Van Zant asked that his client be sentenced to an outpatient substance abuse treatment program, citing an employment opportunity in Chicago that might be lost if he were sentenced to inpatient treatment. Bruns was dubious, however.

“You had another offense. We sent you to a treatment program. Within a week of leaving that program, you had another theft offense,” Bruns said. “I think it would be irresponsible of me to release you, because right now it seems like you still have an addiction problem.”

Bruns sentenced Hodapp to five years of community control and ordered him taken into custody pending transfer to a residential treatment facility. A reserved prison sentence of 12 months could be imposed if Hodapp fails to complete the terms of his probation.

Hodapp asked the court to be released pending transfer on Thursday morning, however, to allow him time to get his affairs in order. Bruns reluctantly agreed.

“Be here at 8 a.m. Not a minute later,” Bruns said.

Nicholas Knaff, 38, of Eaton, was sentenced on charges of aggravated possession of drugs and possession of drug abuse instruments. Knaff’s previous record includes charges of domestic violence, criminal damaging or endangering, trafficking in marijuana, and having weapons while under disability.

Knaff spoke briefly on his own behalf.

“Even before I caught this case, I was seeking help,” Knaff said, citing his recent participation in a substance abuse treatment program.

Judge Bruns was cautious, however, citing 33 prior offenses identified in a sentencing memorandum filed by the Preble County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

“Admittedly they’re not all terribly serious, and most do seem to be related to drug problems,” Bruns said.

Bruns sentenced Knaff to five years of community control. A reserved prison sentence of 12 months could be imposed if Knaff fails to honor the terms of his probation.

“With the record you have, you’re on some thin ice,” Bruns told the defendant after sentence was handed down. “If you’re serious about getting well, take advantage of this opportunity you have.”

Sarah G. Lawson, 33, of New Paris, was ordered to pursue substance abuse treatment in lieu of conviction (ILC) on charges of possession of drugs or heroin. Under the terms of the ILC agreement, Lawson’s guilty plea will be held in abeyance pending successful completion of a treatment program, thereby preventing her from having a felony drug conviction on her record.

Judge Bruns cautioned the defendant that a felony conviction could result in up to a 50 percent reduction in lifetime earning capacity.

“So even beyond what’s happening in the short term, this could affect you for your entire life,” Bruns said.

Robert J. Bright, 19, of Eaton, appeared via video teleconference with the Preble County Jail on charges of aggravated possession of drugs. Preble County Assistant Prosecutor Gractia Manning requested that Bright be held without bond, citing his failure to attend an ILC class and inability to remain in weekly contact with his probation officer.

“He has never shown up any time I’ve tried to make contact with him,” Preble County Adult Probation Officer Jamie Garrett said. “He hasn’t done anything he’s been required to by the court.”

Attorney Bridget Woolum spoke briefly in her client’s defense, saying that a lack of housing and problems with cell phone service had prevented him from remaining in contact.

Judge Bruns ordered Bright held on $10,000 bond. His trial is currently set for May 17.

Preble County Common Pleas Court heard cases involving drugs and breaking and entering on Wednesday, April 7.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/04/web1_Courthouse.jpgPreble County Common Pleas Court heard cases involving drugs and breaking and entering on Wednesday, April 7. Anthony Baker | The Register-Herald

By Anthony Baker

abaker@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish

Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish