Christopher Lewis, 22, of Sistersville, who pleaded guilty in December of last year to one count, attempt to obtain a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, forgery or subterfuge, faced Judge David W. Hummel, Jr. in circuit court on Nov. 3 for the purposes of revoking home confinement.
Prosecuting Attorney D. Luke Furbee spoke to the court concerning the terms of Lewis' home confinement violations and called Cpl. C. J. Lantz of the West Virginia State Police to the stand to testify for the state.
According to Cpl. Lantz's testimony, Lewis and an accomplice traveled to Marietta, Ohio to Ward's recycling plant where he sold stolen scrap metal.
An audio transcript of a statement from Lewis taken by the trooper was introduced into evidence, and was played in open court. In the statement, Lewis claimed he did not know the metal was stolen.
Lewis told Lantz, "I can give you a statement on the stolen metal, but I don't know where it came from."
Lewis went on to tell Lantz he had dropped off a set of house to keys to a friend who was staying at his residence. "I was at the foundry earlier that morning and dropped off the keys, and went back home. Two hours later, my friend stopped back and asked me about going to the junkyard (in Marietta)," Lewis continued.
"My dad does a lot of business at the recycling plant," continued the statement. "I tried to tell them (at the plant) to put it in my name, but they put it in my dad's name."
"So you took this metal to Marietta for a friend? And you didn't receive any money for this?" asked Lantz.
"No, my friend got $124 for the metal, but I didn't get any of the money," replied Lewis.
The recorded statement continued as Lewis told Cpl. Lantz he was on home confinement but had a work release from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. during the week.
"I just send in the paperwork every Friday," Lewis claimed. "I don't call in and report every day to the work release."
Lewis admitted, "I had an idea some of it (the metals) might have been stolen."
As Cpl. Lantz continued to question Lewis concerning his actions and knowledge concerning the incident, Lewis calls the interview to an end.
"I"m pretty sure my lawyer can get me out of being charged for this," Lewis told Cpl. Lantz. "I said I thought it might be stolen. I didn't know it was stolen. There's a difference between thinking, and knowing, the metal was stolen."
The state then called Tyler County Sheriff's Deputy J.K. Maston, who was supervisor of Lewis' home confinement.
"How compliant has Mr. Lewis been, concerning his home confinement?" asked Furbee.
"He didn't do very well," answered Deputy Maston. "His home confinement privileges were revoked once before, for 30 days, for concealing stolen property and not cooperating with police."
"Has he been gainfully employed?" asked Furbee.
"He works odd jobs," answered Maston. "I have no idea about the scrap metal enterprise."
Maston added, "Lewis never asked to go to Ohio to the scrap place."
"He also violated the terms of his home confinement when he allowed a friend to stay at his residence with no notification," commented Maston.
"When he was arrested, there was a juvenile at his home, who was not supposed to be on the premises," Maston informed the court. "Another male subject was also there consuming alcohol." Maston noted there was a twelve-pack of Budweiser beer in Lewis' refrigerator.
"Is alcohol permitted in the home during home confinement?" asked Furbee.
Maston replied that under the terms of home confinement, there was to be no alcohol present.
The state's case was concluded, and Defense Attorney John Gainer called Lewis to the stand in his own defense.
Lewis told the court his friend "didn't technically move in" and that he had merely stayed there for a week or two. He also explained he didn't know the juvenile in question was coming to his house, and wasn't invited by Lewis to be there.
Lewis further noted he "was in the shower" when the Budweiser was put into his refrigerator and wasn't aware it was there. He concluded his testimony by asserting he had called 911 dispatch to inform them he was traveling to Ohio, and reaffirmed he did not know the metals were stolen. (No record of the call to dispatch was produced in court.)
At the conclusion of the statement by Lewis, his attorney stated, "All he did to violate his home confinement was go to Ohio. Everything else speaks for itself."
At this, Judge Hummel replied, "That's some of the biggest bunch of bull I've heard in this court."
"He violates, gets revoked," said Judge Hummel. "Then he violates again. He has violated on many more than one of the conditions of his home confinement."
Hummel sentenced Lewis to his original 1-3 sentence in the West Virginia Division of Corrections, with credit for time served. Lewis was remanded into custody.
Judge Hummel presided over the formal arraignments of several defendants including:
- Forrest J. Carroll was charged in an October indictment with felony fleeing of a police officer in a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and misdemeanor DUI. Carroll entered a not guilty plea to the court.
- James D. Wade was charged with driving on revoked license (DUI) third or subsequent offense. Wade entered a not guilty plea to the charge.
- Gavin Hisam and Jeremy Swartzmiller were charged in separate indictments on one felony count receiving stolen property. Not guilty pleas were entered by both defendants.
As a condition of bond, Judge Hummel ordered the defendants have no contact with each other, and recalled the case on a complaint by Cpl. C. J. Lantz of the W.Va. State Police. In Lantz's complaint contact was reported between the two defendants. Judge Hummel summarily revoked Swartzmiller's bond and remanded the defendant to NCRJ.
- Roberts Streets and Tina Streets were charged in separate indictments of one count obtaining welfare assistance by fraud or misrepresentation. Both entered a plea of innocence to the court.
- Timothy Judge was formally arraigned on charges of failure to provide notice of change of address and entered a plea of innocence through his attorney, John Gainer. A trial date of Dec. 21 was set by Judge Hummel, and bond in the amount of $5,000 surety ordered.
- Craig D. Bassett was arraigned on a multi-count indictment, including breaking and entering (other than a dwelling), grand larceny, and destruction of property. A trial date of Jan. 18 was set by the court.
- Joshua Toothman in court with his attorney, John Gainer, entered a plea of innocence to felony failure to appear and a bond of $50,000 (professional only) was set by the court. Prosecutor D. Luke Furbee requested the stringent bond because Toothman had earlier jumped bond on another indictment (felony destruction of property and felony breaking and entering - HPS pharmacy). A trial date of Jan. 18 was set by the court.
- Jason Young, with counsel Roger Weese, appeared for formal arraignment and was charged with one count breaking and entering and one count, petit larceny. Young entered a plea of innocence, bond continued, and a trial date set for Jan. 18, 2012.