The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 30, 2012

Ashtabula County felony cases are way up in 2012

Bulk of crimes are somehow related to drug usage, addiction

By WARREN DILLAWAY - warren@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Police and prosecutors have been busy this year as felony cases have increased by more than 200, said Ashtabula County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini.

“We are pretty close to 800 felony cases this year,” Sartini said. He said even if you take out 67 people charged in a methamphetamines bust in August there are still way more felonies than last year’s 565.

“There are still 200 more than last year,” Sartini said.

“A lot of it is good police work,” Sartini said of the increase in indictments on felony charges ranging from drug cases to sex crimes.

Sartini said drug cases clearly dominate his court docket.

The kind of drug cases invading the community vary greatly, but have extreme effects on the lives of individuals, families and the community.

“Coke (cocaine) cases have almost disappeared. It is heroin and methamphetamines (now),” he said. The drug of choice changes, but the wrecked lives remain the same.

The bulk of felony crimes are somehow related to drug usage and addiction, Sartini said.

“The vast amount of property crimes (breaking and entering, receiving stolen property) have a drug connection,” he said.

Sartini said methamphetamines are a major problem. He said new methods make it easy to make the drug, but people don’t take the time to realize how easy it can blow up in their faces.

A growing number of child endangerment cases are reaching the courts as people are making methamphetamines in a close proximity to children.

“They put kids at risk because they are either too stupid to know how volatile this drug is, or they don’t care,” Sartini said.

He said there were a lot of sex crimes during 2012 and even a murder-for- hire case which ended with a potential shooter going to the police.

Sartini said the punishment side of the equation has been good this year. “We are getting good convictions and prison sentencing on these meth cases,” he said.

There were several violent crimes including a double murder in Ashtabula, but the numbers of violent crimes have remained relatively low.

There has been relatively little violent crime during 2012, but that could change in the blink of an eye lash, Sartini said.

“We could have a spike in all this next year. You just don’t know,” he said.