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Women sentenced in thefts

November 15, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Two women who admitted to stealing thousands of dollars were sentenced on Wednesday by Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr.

Brandi Blanton, 33, of 710 Trenton Ave., Toronto, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to felony theft and forgery.

Blanton was working for an elderly couple when she admitted to taking nearly $36,000 from the couple's checking accounts. The husband was dying and the wife said in court that Blanton took advantage of their trust. The wife said even money from the Christmas club was stolen. The wife said she was embarrassed and victimized and felt like a criminal when the bank called to say all her money was gone and the checking account was overdrawn. She said she and her husband worked hard their whole lives to have a comfortable retirement. She said Blanton knew she was occupied with caring for husband. The wife said the theft was purposeful and premeditated.

Blanton said she got addicted to pain pills but has completed a drug treatment program,

This wasn't the first time she embezzled money.

Blanton was the former president of the Red Knights Women's Club and was placed on probation for one year just two weeks ago by Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge David Henderson in connection with her taking money from the club.

Blanton pleaded guilty to an amended indictment charging misdemeanor theft. She originally was indicted on felony theft, but the charge was reduced by the county prosecutor's office because of her cooperation in the case.

Henderson ordered she make $999 in restitution.

Bruzzese said Blanton in the theft from the elderly couple took advantage of a vulnerable victim. He said the thefts were systematic, using her position of trust, over a period of time.

Bruzzese said he would be inclined to grant Blanton early judicial release after Blanton serves a period of time in prison. He said she will be responsible for paying back the money taken.

Also, Joyce M. Firm, 72, of 310 Forest Drive, Toronto, was placed on probation for five years by Bruzzese after Firm pleaded guilty to felony theft.

Firm was charged with taking $15,700 as an officer with the Steubenville Kennel Club.

A co-defendant, Michelle DiCola-Parks, 52, of 213 Rockdale Road, Follansbee, indicted on felony theft and felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, is charged with taking $45,381 from the club. Her case is set to go to trial on Tuesday.

Firm was ordered to make $25 payments every month in restitution during her probation, as agreed to by members of the club. She faces up to 18 months in prison if she violates probation.

Stanley G. Haywood, 26, of Chicago was sentenced by Bruzzese to 30 months in prison in connection with a firearm being found on Aug. 11 outside a downtown bar.

Haywood pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and carrying a concealed weapon. Charges of illegal possession of a firearm in a bar and having a weapon as a convicted felon were dismissed by the prosecutor's office.

A co-defendant, Darrius D. Watts, 20, of Chicago was sentenced to 30 months in prison last week by Bruzzese.

Watts pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence, having a weapon as a convicted felon and carrying a concealed weapon. Watts has a conviction in Illinois for unlawful use of a weapon.

According to police reports, Watts was arrested outside Pee Dee's bar on South Fourth Street by police responding to a report of a man brandishing a weapon inside the bar and a possible altercation following outside.

Police said when they arrived they found a crowd outside and Watts attempting to hide a firearm under a vehicle there. Haywood admitted he first had the gun and passed it to Watts.

Brittany S. Turner, 24, of 104 McLister Ave., Mingo Junction, was placed on probation for three years by Bruzzese after she pleaded guilty to an amended indictment charging aggravated assault. She initially was indicted on a felonious assault charge in connection with shots fired in what police said was a drug deal gone bad.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said a Moundsville woman went to a house at 104 McLister Ave. around 9:30 p.m. on April 23 to buy heroin. The woman handed another woman inside the home $65. The woman inside came back to the window and said there was no heroin to buy and shut the window, Abdalla said. The Moundsville woman pushed the window back open and the woman inside came into the room with a gun and fired a shot, the sheriff said.

The bullet hit the window frame, shattering the glass, Abdalla said. The bullet went up to the ceiling and ended up in a sink, he said.

Abdalla said the Moundsville woman went to the Mingo Junction Municipal Building to report the shot being fired, and Abdalla said the woman was cut with the broken glass and was treated by medics at the municipal building.

Turner faces up to 18 months in prison if she violates probation.

Jaquin R. Boston, 22, of 441 S. Fourth St. was sentenced to 10 months in prison by Bruzzese after pleading guilty to improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle and having a weapon with a criminal record.

Boston and Jevante L. Childs, 20, of 1218 Pennsylvania Ave. were indicted in connection with shots fired in the 700 block of Dock Street on June 8.

Officers responding found about nine shell casings on the ground.

Police said witnesses reported seeing three men run from a vehicle toward North Seventh Street after the shots were fired. The vehicle, which belonged to Boston, was towed by police to be processed for evidence.

The criminal case against Childs, who also faces charges of having a weapon as a convicted felon and improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle, is pending in common pleas court. Boston told Bruzzese that Childs was not in the vehicle.

Matthew W. Harsh, 25, of 1218 Island Creek Township Road 381, Steubenville, was sentenced to nine months in prison by Bruzzese after Harsh admitted to a probation violation.

Harsh was sentenced in June to six months in the Eastern Ohio Correction Center after pleading guilty to violation of a protection order. Harsh was kicked out of the Eastern Ohio Correction Center after less than four months for testing positive for drug use.

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