Prosecutor objects to drug treatment sentence for Burns

WARREN – An assistant county prosecutor says Jason Burns’ comparison likening drug abuse to cancer or diabetes is ludicrous. And he calls Burns’ cavalier attitude towards drug abuse ”most troubling.”

Assistant county prosecutor Michael Burnett also says he’s not about to recommend that the 33-year-old former legal assistant for the city of Warren be deemed eligible for drug treatment instead of a drug conviction.

Warren police arrested Burns and said different types of drugs and paraphernalia were found on him Dec. 23 when his coworkers said he was high and working in the city law offices in snow-soaked pants and without shoes after selling his car for drugs. Police were called to take Burns home.

Burnett says his recommendation is needed for Burns’ request for intervention in lieu of conviction. And he’s not going to give that recommendation, according a recent plea filed in Burns’ case.

Burnett refers to Burns’ resignation letter in his formal opposition to the drug treatment option.

”Apparently (Burns) feels that ‘slips’ are inevitable, and that the city of Warren should just accept that he may occasionally be high and commit felonies at work, and they should just get used to it. (Burns) writes in his letter of resignation that he is willing to be a ‘martyr’ to carry that message,” Burnett wrote.

”(Burns) also likens continued drug abuse to cancer and diabetes, and he believes that the city of Warren should have sensitivity training about the disease of addiction. To compare drug use to cancer or diabetes is ludicrous. The court would be hard-pressed to find a cancer patient or an individual suffering from diabetes who has blamed their disease for committing crimes such as carrying a concealed weapon and burglary. Violating the law is bad behavior not an illness,” Burnett argues.

Before any decision in the case, Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay is awaiting a written response from Burns’ attorney Sam Bluedorn, who has said Burns is fighting to keep his law career alive. Bluedorn noted that a program in which Burns was involved in California was nothing more than a court diversion program and nothing close to a rehab program that is normally required for the court intervention.

Bluedorn wants Burns to get that treatment.

Burns, of Boardman, was indicted earlier this year on charges of possession of heroin and aggravated possession of drugs, both fifth-degree felonies, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of drugs.

Officers reported that Burns had several items in his possession, including a hypodermic needle and dirty spoon, two crack pipes, a plastic white prescription bottle that contained four yellow capsules, several “pieces of miscellaneous pills,” and one grayish rock-like substance suspected to be crack.

Burnett also states in his filing that Burns was denied admittance into Drug Court and he had no prescription for the pills that police found on him.

The prosecutor said Burns’ criminal history spans 12 years and includes an arrest in 2002 by Boardman police for carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor.

In 2008, Burns was arrested by San Francisco police for grand theft and second-degree burglary, both misdemeanors but punishable by up to a year in prison. Burns participated in a pretrial diversion program and both the charges were dismissed.

Burns was arrested in 2012 by Beaver Township police for possession of drug abuse instruments and possession of drug paraphernalia and later was allowed to plead guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct.

”To allow this defendant to continually escape any consequences for his criminal conduct is nonsensical. To even consider allowing the defendant a second bite at the apple by giving him the chance to have his current felony charges dismissed would surely demean the seriousness of these offenses. To allow this would certainly send a message to those engaged in felonious criminal activity that they need not adhere to the laws of Ohio because the courts will allow them to have their charges dismissed at least twice,” Burnett argued.