Car theft case, probation violation sentenced

Published 9:25 am Monday, September 7, 2009

A Kentucky woman who stole a car and tried to outrun police in a two-state chase will go to prison.

Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge D. Scott Bowling sentenced Brittany D. Wells to a total of four years in prison for her guilty plea to charges of receiving stolen property and failure to comply with the order and signal of a police officer.

In exchange for her guilty plea to those charges, one count of drug possession was dismissed.

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Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Mack Anderson said Wells stole a car in Huntington and led police in that city across the bridge into Ohio in pursuit of her.

With good behavior, Wells could be eligible for judicial release after two years.

Also Wednesday, Melissa Schwab, 33, of 304 Washington St., Coal Grove, admitted she violated her probation by testing positive for drug use. Bowling sentenced her to five months in prison.

Schwab asked Bowling to allow her a one-week furlough before being sent to prison so she could make arrangements for her children.

“I will take two drug tests during that week (of furlough). I need it so I can handle arrangements at home. I have kids I need to put in someone’s care,” Schwab said.

“I am sympathetic to her problem but the issue here is her drug use,” Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Jeff Smith said. “She has a real problem.”

Bowling denied the request.

Carl Carpenter Jr., of 3827 County Road 31, Chesapeake, pleaded guilty on a bill of information to one count of receiving stolen property.

By pleading guilty to a bill of information, Carpenter avoids having his case heard by a grand jury and a common pleas jury, admits his guilt and goes straight to the penalty portion of the criminal justice system.

Bowling sentenced him to four years community control sanctions under intensive supervised probation (CCS/ISP), ordered him to pay $1,187.65 and successfully complete a rehabilitation program at a community based correctional facility.

Carpenter was accused of stealing a chain saw and a weed eater.

James H. Ratcliff, 56, of 1140 County Road 9, Crown City, was arraigned on two counts of criminal non-support. He pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Warren Morford.

Bowling set bond an own recognizance bond of $20,000 and ordered him to return to court in two weeks for a pretrial conference.

Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Smith said Ratcliff owes approximately $22,000 for the care of one child.