Man accused of theft asks to complete counseling program

LISBON – An Alliance man accused for taking several large electronic items from the Salem Walmart over nearly a two-week period in April 2013 will get the opportunity to complete a counseling program in Mahoning County.

Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Washam placed Derrick A. Bruce, 26, South Seneca Avenue, on probation for four years including a condition that he successfully complete his time in the Community Corrections Association (CCA) program. The program includes 45 days of in-house residential counseling, drug and alcohol assessments and even GED assistance, according to James Thomas, Bruce’s caseworker with the program. After the initial 45 days, those placed there are given passes to leave the facility for social events and job searching.

The program tests the participants for drug and alcohol use several times each week and Thomas said Bruce has not failed a test. Bruce was placed into the program by Judge Scott Kirchbaum in Mahoning County after he pleaded guilty to illegal manufacture of drugs.

Bruce’s defense attorney, Charley Kidder, noted much of Bruce’s record can be attributed to drugs.

Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart, who asked for a nine-month prison term for Bruce, said Bruce and another person took miscellaneous televisions, a RCA home theater system, a flame helmet and a can opener from Walmart during a two-week period between April 5 and April 18, 2013. The items were then sold for drugs.

Bruce told Washam he takes responsibility for his actions and asked for a chance to complete the program he has begun at CCA.

“I’m not getting any younger,” Bruce said. “I’m getting older and I’m tired of living the way I’ve been living.”

Prior to sentencing Washam noted Bruce had an extensive record which included an opportunity for probation following a 2008 conviction, which Bruce was later sentenced to 15 months in prison after he violated the probation terms. Washam gave Bruce another chance at probation, but noted if he failed the CCA program by testing positive for drugs, he would have him brought back here for a possible additional prison sentence.