Gibbs sentenced to 11 months in prison

MARIETTA – A Marietta man will be headed to prison after his first felony conviction.

Justin T. Gibbs, 21, of 827 Ridge St., had little reaction when the 11-month prison sentence was announced.

Gibbs pleaded guilty on Jan. 9 to a fifth-degree felony count of theft for stealing and using a friend’s credit card.

After stealing the credit card on March 18, 2012, Gibbs used it to purchase gasoline, a beverage and $800 worth of gift cards from Speedway.

During Gibbs’ plea, his attorney Nancy Brum had suggested the theft was tied to substance abuse issues, though she did not specify which substances.

However, Gibbs failed to complete the substance abuse assessment that was ordered by the court, pushing his sentencing back a week and showing Gibbs had no desire to get treatment, said Washington County Common Pleas Judge Ed Lane

“We were supposed to have this sentencing last week but we didn’t have all of the evaluations. The reason it wasn’t here is because he didn’t show up for the second part of his court-ordered assessment,” Lane said.

Gibbs told Lane he had attended his first appointment but misunderstood when he was supposed to return to L&P Services for evaluation and counseling.

“They told me to come back for counseling after I got everything straightened out in court,” Gibbs said.

He had missed two appointments with L&P Services since his January plea, one to help his mother, who was hospitalized, and the other “there was no excuse,” said Gibbs.

However, L&P Services had provided a letter to the court saying Gibbs indicated a lack of desire to continue services and was therefore not a desirable candidate for out-patient services.

“(Gibbs) has a documented history of absences and no shows for counseling…and a pattern of manipulating and deceiving counselors,” read Lane from the letter.

Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Jared Erb said he was prepared to honor the plea agreement and recommended five years of community control sanctions and enrollment in a drug and alcohol counseling program.

However, Lane asked what they are supposed to do if Gibbs refuses to attend.

“He’ll violate community control then,” said Erb.

Typically under Ohio law, fifth-and fourth-degree offenders cannot receive prison sentences for their first felony offense.

This was Gibbs’ first felony offense, pointed out Brum.

“It says ‘one’ on the (report) where it asked for prior felonies, but it should read zero,” she said.

Gibbs apologized for not completing the evaluation on time.

“I’d just like to apologize for wasting the court’s time last week,” he said.

However, Lane said he was not convinced Gibbs was a good candidate for community control.

“We’re not here to enable you to manipulate the system,” said Lane. “You can call the people at L&P liars, but they aren’t lying.”

Gibbs was prison eligible on his first offense because he violated the conditions of his personal recognizance bond by skipping out on part of the court-ordered evaluation sessions, said Lane.

Lane pointed to a long list of juvenile and adult convictions that made Gibbs unlikely to be amenable to community control sanctions. Among the charges were three unruly juvenile charges, three possession of drug paraphernalia charges, three driving under suspension charges, two drug possession charges, an escape charge, a contempt of court charge and seven probation violations.

The theft victim, Carl Matheny, did not respond to letters requesting a statement and did not request any restitution, said Erb.

However, Gibbs said he would pay the man back regardless.

“Your honor, I would like to make restitution. He’s my friend,” he said.

Gibbs’ 11-month prison sentence was one month shy of the maximum possible sentence for a fifth-degree felony.