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DUI convictions land man a 6-year sentence



Published: Sat, July 9, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Yozwiak has seven DUI convictions since 1994.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Thomas Yozwiak's alcohol dependency and numerous drunken-driving convictions have cost him his job, his wife and now his freedom.

At his sentencing hearing Friday, Judge Maureen A. Cronin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court disregarded a plea-bargained deal and sent Yozwiak, 45, of Canfield, to jail for six years on three counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol.

In addition, the judge suspended Yozwiak's driver's license for life and ordered his 1995 Lincoln to be turned over to the prosecutor's office.

Yozwiak had pleaded guilty earlier this year to two DUI counts from arrests made in 2003 and 2004, and he pleaded guilty Friday to a third DUI he picked up in April 2005.

Plea agreement

Martin P. Desmond, an assistant county prosecutor, and Atty. Martin E. Yavorcik, Yozwiak's lawyer, had worked out a plea agreement in which Yozwiak would receive one year for each of the three charges. The first two charges would run concurrently, and the last DUI would run consecutively for a total of two years in prison.

Further, Yozwiak would serve the two years at Northeast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton, a facility geared toward rehabilitation treatment for convicted DUI offenders.

When Judge Cronin looked at the presentence report put together by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, however, she told the lawyers she could not go along with their joint recommendation.

The judge said the report indicated that Yozwiak had accumulated seven DUI charges since 1994 and also racked up numerous other traffic violations, including several for reckless operation.

He also had served six months in prison for a probation violation for drinking and driving.

Not enough

"Two years is inadequate," Judge Cronin told Yozwiak. "That's just a slap on the wrist for seven DUIs since 1994."

Yozwiak told the court he had been in denial for years about his drinking problem, but he now realizes that he was alcohol dependent and that "there is no good reason ever to drink and drive."

He said he lost his job of 15 years as a pharmaceutical representative because of his DUI convictions. His alcohol abuse also cost him his marriage.

Judge Cronin pointed out that Yozwiak was out on bond awaiting sentencing for the DUI arrests in 2003 and 2004 when he picked up his seventh DUI in April.

She allowed him to post bond because Yavorcik and Yozwiak convinced her Yozwiak needed to help care for his elderly mother.

"How do you care for your mother when you are out drinking and driving?" Judge Cronin said.

No more chances

Yavorcik asked the judge to consider that Yozwiak had not been in an alcohol rehabilitation program to deal with his problem.

Yozwiak added that he believes that with the proper help he can rehabilitate himself.

"If losing your job and wife doesn't wake you up, what does work?" Judge Cronin said, adding that Yozwiak had many chances to seek help but failed to do so.

The judge said she can't let Yozwiak back out on the streets "because you are going to kill someone."

The judge ruled the sentences should be served consecutively because recidivism was more likely to occur; Yozwiak picked up his seventh DUI while out on bond; he continued to drink and drive even with his license suspended; and he hasn't responded to past rehabilitative efforts imposed by the courts.

Yavorcik made a last plea for the judge to modify her sentence from six years to five years. She turned him down.

"In prison, he won't be able to drink or drive," Judge Cronin said.




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