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Cleveland area man sentenced to year in prison in drug case

LISBON — A Cleveland area man with a long record of reduced and dismissed prior charges was sentenced to a year in prison by Judge Megan Bickerton on Friday.

Darrell E. Blake Jr., 33, pleaded guilty in September to a third-degree charge of having weapons while under a disability and two counts of possession of drugs.

Assistant County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones pointed out Blake’s presentencing investigation shows a very lengthy criminal record and he currently has a warrant for a traffic charge in Cleveland Municipal Court and an unserved secret indictment here in Columbiana County.

Blake’s defense attorney, Michael Cheselka Jr., noted while there are multiple charges on Blake’s record that started as felonies, they were all reduced to misdemeanors or dismissed. He attributed this to “Cuyahoga County’s way of dealing with crushing crime rate is to over charge and then reduce or dismiss.”

Additionally, Cheselka said Blake has never been on a felony probation, where he is responsible to report and follow the directions.

“He’s 33 years old and this case started in 2016,” Cheselka said. “If he was a serious drug dealer, he would have picked up additional charges.”

Instead of the year being requested by Jones, Cheselka offered Blake needs drug treatment, a chance to prove himself and the ability to keep his family together. Blake has two small children with his fiance, as well as three other children. Cheselka said Blake grew up on the east side of Cleveland and has told him he wants to be the father to his children he never had.

His fiance spoke before sentencing saying she feels Blake suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being shot, losing his brother and his family dynamic. She would like to see him get help, but she also said she has seen him grow and he is a wonderful factor in her family’s life.

Before sentencing Blake said what happened here has helped him grow up and is changing him into the type of person he wants to be. Additionally, he pointed out his family is fighting for him and he has never had anyone do that before.

Bickerton told Blake his fiance spoke beautifully of him, the person she sees. However, Bickerton also said his recent actions, including being here in Columbiana County instead of at home taking care of his family, hanging around with those involved in drugs and having guns when he has lost so much to gun violence does not make sense for him.

Additionally, she pointed out he has already been given a number of chances, each time he had those prior felony charges reduced or dismissed was a chance.

“I know this is not what you wanted,” Bickerton said after sentencing Blake to a year in prison. “There are consequences for your actions. Things catch up to you… When there are drugs and firearms involved, it’s not a safe life for you or your family.”

Although Blake was not there where a warrant had been served on Sept. 1, 2016, possessions identified as his were found and among the items found in the home were heroin, cocaine and a nine millimeter handgun.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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