Two found guilty of STAR misdeeds, probation violation

Published 10:23 am Thursday, December 1, 2011

Both sentenced to prison for suboxone incident


Two men kicked out of the STAR Community Justice Center for allegedly possessing the drug suboxone were each found guilty Wednesday of violating their probation during separate trials in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Cody R. Patrick, 23, of 106 Lawrence St., South Point, and Jimmie W. Sparks, 24, of Oak Hill, were each sentenced to 17 months in prison, sentences both men vigorously objected to during their respective trials.

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Both men had been sent to STAR and were on probation, also known as community control sanctions, for charges they pleaded guilty to earlier this year. Patrick pleaded guilty to charges of receiving stolen property, carrying a concealed weapon and using a weapon while intoxicated. Sparks pleaded guilty to a drug charge.

Both men were accused of having suboxone while at STAR, an item that is expressly prohibited by STAR for its inmates and by the Lawrence County Adult Probation Agency for people on probation through that office. Suboxone is a drug sometimes given to people to treat opiate addiction.

Both James Mustain and Matthew Kempf, employees at STAR, testified that Patrick had first denied having suboxone but then admitted to it after he was confronted about rumors that he and several others had the drug and then was given the opportunity to change his statement.

“We tell every resident who comes into the program honesty is the best policy,” Mustain said.

But Patrick maintained he only made the admission after he was coerced to do so. Patrick said he was told if he was honest and admitted he had the drug he would not get into trouble but if he did not admit to having the drug he would get into trouble for not being honest.

“He said if I didn’t (admit to having suboxone) it would be considered lying to the staff,” Patrick said.

Another of the people discharged from STAR, Jason Parsons, testified he, too, had been told he would get into trouble for not, in essence, telling STAR officials what they wanted to hear.

Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Jeff Smith refuted the logic of Patrick’s and Parsons’ stories.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Smith said.

But Patrick’s attorney, J.T. Holt pointed out Parsons had a prison sentence “hanging over his head” and would do anything to stay at STAR and complete his rehabilitation program instead of going to prison.

“I don’t believe he deserves to go to prison for this; I don’t believe the state has met its burden (of proof),” Holt said.

In the end, Judge D. Scott Bowling determined Patrick had in fact violated his probation and sentenced him to the 17 months in prison.

In Sparks’ trial, Probation Officer Lynne Stewart testified Sparks had been discharged from STAR for having suboxone.

But Sparks testified that STAR officials had told him, “’we know you know more than you’re telling and we’re giving you one more chance. That’s why I admitted to what I done.”

Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Bob Anderson said that Sparks had committed a Freudian slip when he testified about admitting to what he “had done.”

But Sparks’ attorney, Warren Morford pointed out Sparks said he had not ingested the drug and was faced with a dilemma of getting kicked out of the program over the incident.

As in the case of Patrick, Bowling determined Sparks had violated his probation and sent him to prison for 17 months. He held open the possibility that each man, if he stayed out of trouble while in prison, could be granted early release.

Last week, Parsons, 28, of Palm Coast, Fla., and Corey Dyer, 20, of Franklin Furnace, both admitted they violated their probation in the suboxone incident and each was given a 10-month prison sentence.

None of the four men were accused of bringing the drug into the facility but of having the drug after another inmate brought it in.