"When I was sentenced last year, I had a difficult time admitting I had a drug addiction."
That's what convicted drug dealer Chelsey M. McCullough said before Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway sentenced her to 23 months in prison Wednesday. The term includes six months for a new possession of heroin conviction and 17 months for a series of probation violations.
"We certainly hope this is a wake-up call," Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said.
McCullough, 24, most recently of New London, said she struggled with sobriety after serving 30 days in the Huron County Jail. In September, a jury -- after two full days of testimony and nearly 2 1/2 hours of deliberation -- found her guilty of two counts each of selling heroin and morphine to a confidential informant whom she contacted by texting.
"I want to get better for myself and my children. They need me," McCullough said.
At Wednesday's hearing, she pleaded guilty to a bill of information, which waives her right to a grand jury indictment, to possession of heroin. The conviction is for a March 30 traffic stop when Trooper Thomas Halko, of the state Highway Patrol, stopped McCullough for a lane violation when she was eastbound on Ohio 18.
"The drug dog was run around the vehicle," Leffler said.
At first, McCullough claimed a friend who is addicted to drugs gave her the hypodermic needles found in the car, but she "eventually cooperated" and admitted to shooting up heroin, Leffler said.
"Ms. McCullough gave a lengthy explanation of her problem with heroin," he said.
A lab test later confirmed a spoon also found in the car had heroin on it. McCullough, whose driver's license is suspended for six months, must reimburse the patrol $35 to cover the cost of drug testing.
Also Wednesday, McCullough admitted to committing several probation violations, which included the heroin-related traffic stop. She tested positive for opiates March 31. Since Jan. 8, the defendant failed to keep her probation officer updated on her whereabouts, hadn't performed 25 hours of community service by mid-February and hadn't made any payments on her fines, restitution or court costs.
"She (also) had been associating with a known convicted felon," probation officer Andrea Cooke told the court.
Leffler said the state wouldn't oppose McCullough applying for early release from prison and being transferred into a community-based corrections facility (CBCF). Defendants spend four to six months in a CBCF, a form of prison which focuses on substance abuse treatment and education.