Convicted heroin dealer Thomas E. Reynolds II and his attorney said getting a prison term would set back his ability to regain custody of his children.
"I want to have a life with my kids," Reynolds told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway. "That's all I want to do is be with my kids and take care of them."
Reynolds, 32, of Clarksville, Tenn., earlier pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in heroin for a March 27, 2013 controlled drug buy. In late February, police arrested the defendant on a secret indictment, which a grand jury typically issues when authorities believe the suspect might flee.
Given the heroin problem in the area and Reynolds' criminal record, Conway said it would send the wrong message if he didn't impose a prison term. The defendant received 11 months in prison Thursday -- one month short of the maximum for the fifth-degree felony.
Reynolds also had his driver's license suspended for six months. He must reimburse the Norwalk Police Department $40 to cover the cost of drug testing.
Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Daivia Kasper shared with the court Reynold's "significant criminal history," which includes multiple alcohol-related misdemeanors and a prison term for selling heroin.
"He does indeed have a prior felony (conviction). It was for trafficking in heroin," Kasper said. "He was sent to prison at the time. It was barely five years ago."
After Reynolds completed a stint in the Crossweah community-based corrections facility, he and his wife moved to Tennessee. Defendants spend four to six months in a CBCF, a form of prison which focuses on substance abuse treatment and education.
"Because of these offenses, the kids were taken away," defense attorney Tim Dempsey said.
Dempsey said his client has done everything in his power to regain custody, which included a parenting class, and knows "he has to tow the line to have any chance to get his kids back." Reynolds' attorney requested the judge consider putting his client on the maximum amount of probation and hold the most time possible over Reynolds' head so he can prove he is serious about getting custody of his children again.