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Addiction led to death’s door, ex-clerk says



Published: Sun, June 12, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.

City man apologizes for hiding OVI ticket, gets treatment for alcoholism

By Ashley Luthern

aluthern@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Benito Velazquez Jr. knew he made a mistake.

Velazquez, 38, of Youngstown, was a deputy clerk at Mahoning County Area Court in Boardman. He received a ticket for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol March 5, and when the Ohio State Highway Patrol turned in the ticket to Boardman court March 7, Velazquez panicked.

“I wanted to tell my supervisor, but I didn’t know how to. I was afraid. ... I put it on my desk because I was a mess,” he said.

It was not his first OVI offense, either. He received an OVI ticket from the highway patrol in October.

Velazquez, who first sought treatment for depression and alcoholism Feb. 10, said he still “hadn’t hit rock bottom.”

On March 14, he did.

He got a call from a fellow employee that the chief deputy clerk for Mahoning County clerk was on her way to Boardman court. He swallowed 90 Tylenol PM pills, logged into Facebook and posted a goodbye. Friends saw it and called police, but before officers arrived, Velazquez said he confided in a friend who took him to the hospital.

“I was in the hospital, and they were trying to pump my stomach, and I fought with them,” he said. “I didn’t want them to put that tube down my throat. I told them ‘Please let me die.’”

Over the next several days, Velazquez contemplated suicide, even thinking of ways he could gather enough sheets to hang himself. Each time he began to act on his thoughts, a nurse, doctor or visitor would come into his room.

He was released from the hospital March 19, and resigned April 10 after nearly eight years of county employment. About a month after his resignation, Velazquez pleaded guilty to OVI and no contest to obstructing official business. Atty. Gerald Ingram represented Velazquez in court.

Velazquez said he got through the experience with the support of his mother, Nercy Santana, and sister, Betsy Velazquez, and several friends, including Atty. Susan Maruca.

“My heart went out to him,” Maruca said. “A month before he sought treatment on his own. ... He realized how broken he was, and he attempted to hide this part of his life, his imperfections.”

Maruca offered Velazquez, who worked for her a decade earlier, a paralegal position at her downtown office and he accepted.

“I’m so proud of him,” Maruca said. “I see nothing for him to be embarrassed about.”

The two also serve together on the Organizacion Civica y Cultural Hispana Americana board of directors. Velazquez was president but has temporarily stepped down.

Velazquez said he undergoes therapy sessions daily, saying lasting change won’t be an “overnight thing.”

The first and most important step for people with an addiction is to admit they have a problem, said Candy Kacvinsky, program director at the Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic in Youngstown.

“If you don’t acknowledge it, you can’t get help for it. ...Not to say that once you admit it, it’s easy street. You still have to do the work. You have to change your whole lifestyle,” she said.

Kacvinsky said that depression and alcohol create a cycle.

“People often with depression, not realizing they will get more depressed, are drinking and self-medicating to get that good feeling. If you’re addicted, you don’t have a shutoff valve and the cycle keeps repeating itself,” she said.

Velazquez said he was depressed, drinking to fall asleep most nights. Now he’s treating his addiction seriously and said he’s sorry for how his actions affected his family, friends, the clerk of courts office and the highway patrol.

He has enrolled at Youngstown State University to complete a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and plans to continue working for Maruca.

“I’m ready to take life back,” he said.


Comments

1foxyglo(372 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

OH BOO-HOO

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2bareback1(41 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Another one that blew it! Well, at least you can live off your PERS pension money. (Minus the fines, court costs, atty fees etc). Good luck sluggin it out now in the real world.

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3HOWARD307(12 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Let's give this man a break, lease. ONLY time will tell, as words are just repeating what you hear in treatment.
Do an interveiw in 2 years, and see where he is at in life. IF he is serious, he will be a good candidate for long term recovery. Only time and actions will tell, not a article , 3 months sober

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4Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

I have a similar story. Hopefully he stays on the correct path. It's hard but you have to live "one day at a time". Good Luck.

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588napolitano(16 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Not everyone that loses a job is lucky enough to have somebody come and give you a job,just like that!Damn.

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6shortee15(10 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm amazed at how heartless a couple of you are. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I wish this man the best.

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7streetwise48(2 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

If this man was black would u all feel the same? give him a pat on the back and say give him another chance? Wrong is wrong! he has done this before, plus he was a drunk serving our city!!!

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8jay72(4 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

First of all @Mr. streetwise48!! If you were really wise you would know better than to bring race into this picture. Second of all if memory serves me correct he did not work for the city, he worked for the county. Finally, he was not drunk at work. Just saying get things correct mr streetwise, since you are so wise. You are however right "wrong is wrong" Im sure he is well aware of that.

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9jay72(4 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

@bareback and @ foxyglo.. Shame on both of you for all of the negative comments you continuously post on vindy.com. Im glad to know that your lives and that of your families are so perfect without sin and without illness. You should know all the facts prior to posting hatred comments. I happen to know of this gentleman. I can honestly tell you he is one hell of a man and courageous at that. Not to many people can bounce up from the depths of his ground like he has. I am sure he is very thankful and greatful for his family and true friends who have lent a hand and help him pick up his pieces. As mentioned before, people in glass houses should be aware of throwing any stones, lest your dream house be shattered by a spec of dust.

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10Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

streetwise

"If this man was black would u all feel the same?"

streetwise do you have a brain?

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11jay72(4 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

@lifes2Short, You are 100% correct. Why would someone that calls them selves "streetwise" post such a rasist comment like that. I am sure if it were the other way around he would say his feelings would be hurt. People have to realize that life is indeed to short and that no one should point fingers. Thanks. I am sure if Mr. Velazquez reads this he will appreciate your comments.

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