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Probation revoked for jail's substance abuse program head

September 26, 2000

Probation revoked for jail's substance abuse program head



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


The director of Washington County's nationally acclaimed Jail Substance Abuse Program Tuesday lost the probation before judgement he was granted after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated and as a result has a conviction on his record.

Charles Ray Messmer was not sent to jail - a disposition that would have ended his 19-year career at the Washington County Health Department helping people with drug and alcohol problems.

Visiting District Court Judge Milnor Roberts learned Tuesday that Messmer's second violation of probation occurred just nine days after a July court appearance before him for previous alcoholic slip-ups in March.

At the July hearing, Roberts reluctantly allowed Messmer's probation before judgment to stand, but took different action Tuesday.

"Your probation before judgment is revoked - probation has been unsatisfactory," Roberts said.

Probation agent Brenda Young told Roberts she recommended a one-year jail sentence with six months suspended.

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Roberts sentenced Messmer to 10 days in jail and gave him credit for 10 days spent in an in-patient treatment program in Henryville, Pa., in July.

"I thought I was different I thought I could do it on my own," Messmer said.

The probation agent's report on July 20 requesting the bench warrant indicated Messmer was again using alcohol.

Those allegations, and reports that Messmer was $50 behind in his monthly supervision fees, paved the way for Tuesday's hearing.

The $50 has been paid and Messmer told Roberts he's been sober since July 28.

Messmer pleaded guilty last November in Washington County District Court to driving while intoxicated.

Messmer, 44, had a blood alcohol level of .35 on June 19, 1999, when he was arrested at his 20 Richmond St. home after witnesses told police he'd been driving erratically in the parking lot of the apartment complex, according to court records.

Legally, a blood-alcohol level of 0.1 or higher constitutes driving while intoxicated in Maryland.

Temporarily relieved of his duties at JSAP earlier this year, Messmer has continued his employment with the Washington County Health Department writing grants.

Health department spokesman Betty Shank said in July that Messmer's employment was unchanged. Efforts to reach Shank Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Begun in 1989 as the first jail-based alcohol/substance abuse treatment program in Maryland, JSAP has become a national model under Messmer's leadership.

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