Convicted drug addict gets 13 years

September 14, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Convicted drug addict James Michael Conely's pleas for "one more chance" fell on deaf ears before Washington County Circuit Judge Donald Beachley Tuesday.

"I'm tired of the whining," Beachley said as he sentenced Conely, 24, to 13 years in prison.

Conely was in court to answer charges he repeatedly broke his court-ordered probation - by selling drugs, using drugs, failing to report to his probation agent, receiving an alcohol citation in Ocean City, Md., failing to get counseling, not performing 40 hours of community service and missing alcohol meetings.

"I've been using drugs since I was 10 years old ... that's all I've done," Conely said. He told Beachley he felt that a halfway house would give him the support he needed.

But the judge was unmoved.

"This court has attempted rehabilitation before," Beachley said, noting that Conely had previously been enrolled in the Jail Substance Abuse Program. "There are just some people who can't live crime-free in society."


Conely was sentenced on March 3 in connection with a series of cigarette thefts at area grocery stores, a crime spree that was heroin-driven.

The result was a six-month jail sentence on top of the six months he was serving for an unrelated second-degree assault conviction, according to court records. All other jail time was suspended.

"He got out on probation in June and he made it about a week," said Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Joe Michael.

Originally charged with eight counts of misdemeanor theft, Conely, of the 19100 block of Poffenberger Road, pleaded guilty to four of those counts plus one count of car theft. The other four theft counts had been dropped in exchange for the March guilty plea.

Tuesday, Beachley reimposed four years in prison for the assault, five years consecutive for cashing a forged check, four more years for the car theft and four 18-month concurrent terms for misdemeanor theft.

On July 24, 1998, Conely ran into the Food Lion on Eastern Boulevard, grabbed $205 worth of cigarettes and fled. That same day, he stole $293 in cigarettes from the Food Lion on Wilson Boulevard, according to court records.

On Nov. 4, 1998, Conely took $184 worth of cigarettes from Martin's Supermarket on Dual Highway, according to court records.

Conely tried the same grab-and-run approach at Martin's on Nov. 12 but dropped all the cigarettes when he was chased by store personnel, according to court records.

Defense attorney George Knight said Conely would take the cigarette cartons he stole to Baltimore and sell them for $10 each and use the money to buy heroin.

The car theft charge came to light on Nov. 8, 1998, when Conely was spotted driving a 1967 Datsun that police knew had been stolen a week earlier.

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