Defendant with 'one helluva addiction' sent back to prison

Cary Ashby • Feb 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM

She's heading back to prison.

But her best friend doesn't think imprisonment will help her. She said she thinks an intense, year-long substance abuse treatment center would better suit Stephanie L. (Broz) Cleveland.

"Going to prison isn't going to help her," said Jonelle Cole, also Cleveland's colleague at the Elite School of Cosmetology in Norwalk. "Teen Challenge would be great for her."

Cole said she finds it unfair that other defendants convicted of fifth-degree felonies get county jail time on the work release program while Cleveland won't be able to finish school. First-time felons convicted of fourth- or fifth-degree felonies aren't eligible for prison terms. Cleveland, however, was sentenced in late September 2008 to three years in prison for selling heroin.

"She was doing so well in school," said Cole, the defendant's best friend.

Cleveland received a two-year prison term Wednesday.

Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said shoplifting from Kohl's in Cuyahoga County doesn't give him any faith Cleveland would succeed under probation. On Dec. 16, the judge revoked the defendant's $20,000 bond due to the theft.

Conway ruled Wednesday a consecutive sentence was necessary to help protect the community. Cleveland received eight months in prison for one count each of trafficking in Suboxone, possession of methadone and possession of heroin. She also must reimburse the Norwalk Police Department $80 to cover the cost of drug testing.

In June 2010, Cleveland was released early from prison into a community-based corrections facility, a form of prison which focuses on substance abuse treatment and education. She completed the CBCF and a 12-step substance abuse program.

Cleveland told the judge that finding her sobriety wasn't easy.

She said she's "highly remorseful" for selling her own prescription.

"This has been an embarrassment to my family. ... They're disappointed by my actions," said Cleveland, who cried while reading her written statement.

The defendant's mother sat with her head down and in her hands in the courtroom after the sentencing hearing. She declined to comment.

"I'm not a monster; I'm an addict," Cleveland said.

On Nov. 21, 2012, Cleveland sold .1 gram of Suboxone to someone for $60. Then, on July 4, 2013, police found a small amount of methadone and heroin in her residence.

In her original drug case, Cleveland was arrested June 5, 2008 when she was returned from Columbus, where she bought 41 balloons, or doses, of heroin. Authorities said she called various people to make delivery arrangements as she returned to Huron County. Cleveland's son, who was 2 months old, was in the car when police made the Benedict Avenue traffic stop.

Cleveland's father and stepmother now have custody of both of her children.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler has known Cleveland since the seventh grade when she played volleyball.

"She's a very talented young woman," said Leffler, who recommended a 22-month prison term. "But when she gets to selling drugs ... it becomes a serious problem."

Defense attorney Reese Wineman said there's no doubt his client "has a problem."

"I agree; she has potential," he added. "She has one helluva addiction. ... She needs long-term treatment."

The court ruled Cleveland is a good candidate for the risk-reduction program. That means if she successfully completes an in-house substance abuse program, she could be released from prison after serving 80 percent of her sentence.

Recommended for You

    Norwalk Reflector Videos