'I'm not giving up on my sobriety'

Cary Ashby • Jul 30, 2014 at 9:07 AM

A former New London woman was sentenced to jail Monday for accepting a pill from another client in a locked-down substance abuse treatment center.

Chelsey M. McCullough, 25, was about 30 days from graduating from the program when the July 8 incident happened at Crosswaeh, a community-based corrections facility in Tiffin. Defendants spend four to six months in a CBCF, a form of prison which focuses on substance abuse treatment and education.

McCullough thanked Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway for the time she spent at Crosswaeh.

"I learned a lot," she said.

"That doesn't mean I'm giving up on my sobriety," added the defendant, echoing a sentiment she said during a hearing about two weeks ago.

McCullough said she plans to take what she learned at the CBCF and apply it to her life. Conway recommended McCullough attend AA and/or NA meetings while she is in the Huron County Jail so she can be better prepared for sobriety when she is released.

She will spend about three months behind bars for violating her early release from prison. Those three months are the remainder of a 23-month sentence which was handed down in mid-May 2013. McCullough was released from prison Feb. 6 and then was transferred to the Crosswaeh CBCF.

While she was in prison she obtained her GED and regularly attended church and substance abuse programs. McCullough has said she planned to attend college in the fall.

Huron County Public Defender David Longo said McCullough wanted to go back to the CBCF, but officials there determined she would have to start over. Since McCullough wouldn't have enough time to finish the four- to six-month program at Crosswaeh, imprisonment was the only option.

McCullough had been in the CBCF for 140 days before she was kicked out for the rule violation. Longo has said his client was very depressed over the June 30 death of a Bellevue man -- the father of her son -- when the other CBCF client offered McCullough "a caffeine pill" to boost her spirits. Crosswaeh authorities determined the pill was actually Tramadol, which is used to relieve moderate to moderately severe pain. Longo said even though she didn't use the pill, McCullough also didn't have the clarity of mind to not accept it or tell the woman to go away.

"She physically accepted it and put it in her locker. ... It was found in her locker," Longo said.

In September 2012, a jury -- after two full days of testimony and 2 1/2 hours of deliberation -- found McCullough guilty of two counts each of selling heroin and morphine to a confidential informant whom she had contacted by texting.

Then in mid-May 2013, McCullough pleaded guilty to possession of heroin. The conviction was for a March 30, 2013 traffic stop when Trooper Thomas Halko stopped her for a lane violation when she was eastbound on Ohio 18. The court sentenced McCullough to 23 months in prison -- six months for the heroin incident and 17 months for a series of probation violations.

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