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Owes thousands, deadbeat gets treatment

By CHRISTINE L. PRATT Staff Writer Published: March 4, 2017 5:00 AM

MILLERSBURG -- Referring to himself as a deadbeat, a Wooster man said Wednesday, Feb. 22, he needs help with his alcohol and drug addiction to get him on track with his child support, on which he is behind more than $25,000.

James E. Christian, 37, of 340 W. Larwill St., previously pleaded guilty in Holmes County Common Pleas Court to a single count of nonsupport of dependents. In exchange for his guilty plea, a second charge of nonsupport was dismissed.

For his part, Christian agreed to pay back support associated with both charges, which allege he failed to provide court-ordered financial aid for his child, now 17, between June 2015 and May 2016.

Currently incarcerated because he tested positive for drugs while out on bond, Christian told Judge Robert Rinfret that if he is released, he will start using again. Rather, he asked for a sentence to include programming at the Stark Regional Community Correction Center.

In doing so, Christian acknowledged his period of confinement would likely exceed the amount he would serve in prison.

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Noting Christian has been "extremely honest" about his ongoing failures and addiction, Rinfret said, "You owe a lot of money. It's one of the largest amounts I've seen. Normally I give up on people like you. When you owe that much, it shows total disregard."

Nevertheless, Rinfret said, he was willing to try SRCCC.

Christian said he's been an addict 20 years. His addiction started with alcohol and progressed over time, to the point his drug of choice over the past two years was methamphetamine. "I have an addictive personality and I know I'm a deadbeat," he said.

Rinfret sentenced Christian to five years of community control sanctions, to include completion of the program at SRCCC. He also ordered Christian to pay all court costs, the fees and expenses of his court-appointed attorney and past support totaling $26,843.

"If you screw up, you're going to prison," said Rinfret, also imposing a suspended 11-month prison term. "You're the only one who can do this."

The sentence looked similarly to that imposed for Joseph Grandstaff, 32, of 609 Rear S. 16th St., Coshocton, who, a week prior, was sentenced to 14 months in prison after pleading guilty to 12 counts of nonsupport of dependents.

According to the charges, Grandstaff failed to pay court-ordered support for three children, now ages 8, 10 and 11, between December 2013 and November 2015.

As with Christian, Grandstaff's prison term was suspended in favor of five years of community control sanction. He, likewise, was ordered to pay all court costs, the fees and expenses of his court-appointed attorney and back support totaling $17,717.

Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or cpratt@the-daily-record.com.


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