Probation violators chief among court cases

Published 10:07 am Monday, July 20, 2009

A West Virginia man learned the hard way Wednesday that probation is serious business with serious consequences.

Bert Williams, of Huntington, admitted he violated his probation by evading the law for more than two years.

He was placed on probation, also known as community control sanctions, and ordered to successfully complete a rehabilitation program at the STAR Community Justice Center following conviction on a charge of trafficking in marijuana. But after his sentencing, authorities contended Williams disappeared until recently when he was apprehended.

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“He didn’t even show up for his interview to go to STAR, he’s paid no fines, he’s done absolutely nothing, he blew off his community control,” Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Mack Anderson told Judge D. Scott Bowling. Williams’ attorney, Warren Morford, agreed his client has not done as he was supposed to but said he had been a victim of circumstance: At one point he said Williams had problems with housing. Williams got back on his feet, Morford said, and found a house and then the house burned down and he and his family lost everything.

“He put his obligations to the court on the back burner and put his family first,” Morford explained.

Williams begged Bowling to give him a lighter sentence than the 10 months in prison Anderson recommended. He said if he had gone to STAR he would have been out of work for that time and his family would have had no income.

“Have mercy on me,” Williams begged Bowling. “If I had turned myself in my family would have been on the streets.”

Bowling noted that when Williams was picked up by police he tested positive for marijuana use and accepted the 10-month recommendation.

William Caplinger, of 5365 State Route 141, Ironton, admitted he, too, violated his probation by failing to pay his child support arrearage, failing to report to his probation officer and getting into trouble that led to new charges being filed in Ironton Municipal Court. Bowling sentenced him to eight months in prison. Caplinger was on probation for failing to pay child support.

In another matter, Grover L. Adkins, of 2507 County Road 144, South Point, pleaded guilty on a bill of information to driving while intoxicated, driving under suspension and operating a motor vehicle without reasonable control.

Bowling sentenced Adkins to four years community controlled sanctions under intensive supervised probation (CCS/ISP) and ordered him to successfully complete a rehabilitation program at a community based correctional facility (CBCF).