The mother of a Warren paralegal charged last week with felony drug possession said Monday that her son has been caught in a "political crossfire," and that an inaccurate portrayal of the 33-year-old has been painted. Marilyn Burns of Canfield reached out to the media through a letter in which she expressed her frustration.
She briefly spoke to the Tribune Chronicle and agreed to meet with a reporter this week. However, she later canceled the interview, stating that neither she nor her son, Jason Burns, "could make any statements right now."
Her younger son, Christopher, suffered from an opiate addiction until his death on April 24, 2007. The Canfield woman penned the book "Lost No More," which is described on her website as "A Mother's Spiritual Journey Through Her Son's Addiction."
"I am now watching my surviving son, Jason, suffer from an opiate addiction," she wrote to the Tribune. "Like his brother, he too has come close to death, but is working hard today to change that course.
''When asked, he says that he doesn't want to die; so did Chris. But drugs can kill. Jay says he wants to be a successful attorney working in the substance abuse field and someday be married with kids. I pray for the same and so do all of the parents who have children in active addiction and / or recovery."
Marilyn Burns stated she was reaching out to local media "out of total frustration, grief, despair, helplessness but not hopelessness."
She commented, "I cannot believe what a fiasco the media has made of this very painful and personal issue that occurred on Dec. 23, 2013."
Jason Burns of Boardman was arraigned on felony drug possession charges on Feb. 25 from an incident Dec. 23 at the city law department. A fellow employee called City Law Director Greg Hicks expressing concerns about Jason Burns' behavior. Hicks wanted police to take Burns home.
When police arrived about 1:30 p.m., Burns admitted to taking OxyContin. Officers found a hypodermic needle, 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. Lab tests were negative for crack, but positive for heroin.
Jason Burns submitted his resignation letter on Monday, which canceled a disciplinary hearing that had been scheduled for this week.
In his resignation letter, Burns states, ''Yes, I am afflicted with this disease, but I am not the scum of the earth like you have treated me. I would like you to know that I have been clean and sober since December 23, 2013, and that is something that I take a lot of pride in and have come a long way since that day when I hit rock bottom.
''I would like to be very clear about one fact: I take full responsibility for my actions and my behavior was a direct result of not working my NA program and getting away from what I know does work to keep myself clean and sober one day at a time.
''I, by no means, am blaming anyone for my actions, as they were my fault and I will have to face the consequences, whatever they may be and have made peace with that fact,'' Burns' letter states.
Marilyn Burns said Jason has struggled with an opiate addiction since his brother's death.
She commended Hicks and assistant city prosecutor Traci Timko Rose for giving her son a chance despite his past.
Hicks told the Tribune Chronicle last week that the paralegal's work was "exemplary."
Marilyn Burns insisted she is not making excuses for her son and said he must have been very sick to have taken drugs to work and to have acted erratically.
"The media was quick to pull his criminal records, but unfortunately due to HIPPA laws they couldn't pull his medical records to understand that this man has been under medical care in the last year, trying to find out how to relieve neurological pain on the left side of his body, RSD, and brain swelling.
"My son showed up at work that day because he didn't have enough insight and control to stop himself ... as painful as it has been for everyone involved, I felt my prayers were answered. He walked several miles to get to work, in that condition no sleep, high on drugs, in physical pain and fear of losing a job that he probably didn't even remember he loved. He walked because he traded his car the day before for heroin. A very sad story for me to tell and for all of us that love him to read over and over as headlines cover this story," she said.
She said she and her son both believe that everything happens for a reason.
Hicks said Jason Burns had been on on unpaid leave since Dec. 23.