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Unemployed heroin defendant told to show effort on probation

Cary Ashby • Jan 24, 2014 at 11:07 PM

An unemployed Norwalk man with a drunk-driving conviction must complete his GED while on probation for a heroin offense.

Shane J. Nichols, 24, of 2850 Zenobia Road, pleaded guilty in December to possession of heroin.

On Thursday, he was ordered to undergo random drug screens and substance abuse counseling as part of his three years of intensive probation. Nichols also was fined $250 and must reimburse the Ohio Bureau of Investigation $35 to cover the cost of drug testing.

His probation officer has the discretion of when to impose a 90-day jail sentence.

"He's indicated he's never been employed before. ... He indicated he dropped out of school in ninth grade," Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Dina Shenker said.

Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said he had considered sentencing Nichols to an immediate jail sentence, but it was unclear why he decided give the defendant a shot at community control sanctions. The judge told Nichols he needs to show some effort on probation due to his substance abuse issues, lack of productivity and not having a job.

If Nichols violates the terms of his probation, he faces one year in prison.

On April 11, the Huron County Sheriff's Office responded to a domestic disturbance at Nichols' home. Shenker has said the property owner -- the defendant's grandfather -- reported his grandson had been using illegal drugs and requested deputies search the home.

Deputies seized separate baggies containing a straw, spoon and paper, all with suspected heroin residue, as evidence from the bedroom Nichols used. A test at the BCI lab later determined there was a trace amount of heroin on the paper.

Nichols, starting in mid-November 2011, served 30 days in jail for driving under the influence.

The conviction was for a minor, two-vehicle collision Aug. 7, 2011 that involved a woman who was about seven months pregnant at the time. She later went to Fisher-Titus Medical Center with possible injuries, where hospital officials determined she and her unborn child were OK.

Troopers with the state Highway Patrol conducted a series of field sobriety tests on Nichols, which he failed. He also submitted a urine test, which tested positive later for amphetamine.

Last year, Nichols served a four-month jail sentence for violating his Norwalk Municipal Court probation by using then 3-year-old son's urine during a drug screen. He was on the drug court program for the DUI conviction at the time.

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