Ohio lottery thief granted early release on probation violation


By Justin Wier

jwier@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

David Dragelevich said prison was, by a pretty large margin, the worst experience of his life.

But Monday he thanked Judge John M. Durkin for sending him there.

“It took me getting sentenced to prison to see the big picture,” Dragelevich said. “That’s what it took for me to realize how ridiculous I was being.”

Dragelevich, 43, of Poland, appeared Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for a judicial-release hearing.

He received an 18-month sentence in March after he was caught with heroin last year.

That violated the five years’ probation Dragelevich received on a 2015 theft-in-office conviction after he stole more than $100,000 in lottery tickets while employed by the Ohio Lottery Commission’s North Canton office from 2012 to 2013.

At the sentencing hearing for that crime, his attorney said he had battled substance abuse since age 15.

Judge Durkin granted the judicial release and imposed a term of two years’ probation on Dragelevich.

As a condition of probation, he will have to continue repaying the $39,000 in restitution ordered by Judge Durkin in 2015. At the time, Judge Durkin said he sentenced Dragelevich to probation because he couldn’t make restitution from prison.

Judge Durkin told Dragelevich the hard part begins once he gets out.

“I’m glad to know that you are at a point where you are saying the right things,” Judge Durkin said. “It’s putting it into practice that is going to be the challenge.”

Dragelevich said he’s learned his lesson and he wants to begin mentoring children.

“In this lifetime, if I’m lucky, I have 80 years,” Dragelevich said. “I’m halfway there. I don’t want to waste the second half the way I did the first.”

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