LIMA —A judge has delayed a decision on a former American Township firefighter’s request for intervention in lieu of conviction in a theft case.
The diagnosis for Jason Belton, accused of stealing more than $14,000, revealed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, impulse control disorder and bipolar disorder.
After the diagnosis was submitted to the court, a judge has asked for another hearing and elicited testimony from medical professionals until he decides whether or not to grant it.
The diagnosis for the former union treasurer was completed Aug. 27 and was the result of an evaluation and analysis of his medical records, according to Belton’s attorney, Andrew King. Belton was evaluated by psychologist Steven Ross, of Fort Wayne.
“It’s his opinion that Jason suffers from longstanding and enduring psychological condition which very likely contributed to his criminal behaviors,” King said.
Belton appeared in Allen County Common Pleas Court Friday for stealing what his attorney stated was $14,544.75 from the union.
King said Belton is willing to reimburse the union in full plus interest, along with completing psychotherapy as needed.
“Jason did something that got out of control and was completely wrong,” King said. “He let them down. In a firefighter’s community obviously trust and faith in your fellow firefighters is a big deal. They have to rely on their fellow firefighters to serve with them to make sure they do their job right.”
Belton is facing a charge of grand theft, a fourth-degree felony. If convicted, he could spend 18 months in prison. He resigned from his position as a lieutenant at the fire department Feb. 28.
Ed Monfort, drug court coordinator, reviewed the diagnosis and was able to interview Belton. He determined Belton is eligible for intervention in lieu of conviction.
Allen County Prosecutor Juergen Waldick that with the conditions on Friday, he was recommending the state reject the request, citing Ohio Revised Code 2951.041.
“The law states the request shall include a statement from the offender as to whether the offender is alleging that drug or alcohol usage by the offender was a factor leading to the criminal offense,” Waldick said. “I believe the motion that was filed does not include that.”
Furthermore, Waldick said no evidence has been presented to support the request and he initially recommended the continuance for the psychologist that submitted the report to be cross-examined and to provide further details about his findings.
“We feel it's inappropriate in this particular situation to allow just the report to be used without any live testimony,” Waldick said.
Judge Richard Warren agreed, requesting testimony from Ross and Monfort at another hearing until he makes the decision whether to accept or reject the request.
“This is a very difficult case for all concerned,” Warren said. “The court has responsibilities in all these cases when we grant or deny intervention. There are some issues and I think Mr. Waldick is correct that would be subject to cross-examination and the court is going to continue the matter.”
That hearing is scheduled for 8 a.m. Oct. 1.
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