Drug trafficker going to jail, but gets to show court he’s changed

A contrite Marietta man caught selling drugs will spend 30 days straight in jail before being allowed to serve the final 60 days intermittently so he can work to support his family.

“I just need a chance to show the court I’m not the same man I used to be,” said Christopher Payne, 27, of 221 Harmar St., as he read from a letter he prepared for the court.

Payne pleaded guilty Feb. 22 to trafficking in drugs, a fifth-degree felony.

Payne was caught selling cocaine and what were at the time believed to be Percocet pills to a Major Crimes Task Force informant in January of 2012, said his attorney, Randall Jedlink.

He was charged with a fifth-degree felony trafficking in cocaine and a third-degree felony for the pills. However, the pills were later found to be birth control pills, and the third-degree felony was dismissed, said Jedlink.

Payne has turned a new leaf since his arrest, staying away from his former friends and focusing on supporting his family, said Jedlink.

“Normally I’m sitting here with a client that is trying to figure out what to do to get back on the right track. Chris has already done a lot of those things,” he said.

Payne developed a drug problem after being medically discharged from the military because of a heart condition, he told the court.

“My dream of becoming a Marine was shattered. After I was discharged I couldn’t find a job to support my family,” he said, choking up at times as he read from the emotional letter.

Payne said he turned to drugs to cope with his depression and admitted to selling drugs to pay for his addiction.

“I’m very ashamed of the person I became,” he told Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane

He has cleaned up and found a good paying job for himself, but more so for his fiancee and their two children, Payne said.

“I need to set a good example for my family,” he said.

Payne sought counseling and has been clean since his arrest in January 2012. He still attends weekly support meetings for recovering addicts, he told Lane.

He has secured a job at Pioneer Pipe and routinely passed drug tests there, said Jedlink.

“His boss, the chairman, has written the court a letter saying what a good employee he is,” he said.

Jedlink asked that Payne be allowed to serve an intermittent sentence so he could keep his job and continue supporting his fiancee and two children.

“The last time I gave someone an intermittent sentence, he showed up once and we never saw him again. We’ve still got a warrant out to find him,” said Lane.

Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings said the state was recommending community control sanctions and 60 days in the Washington County Jail.

Lane ruled that Payne could serve 60 days intermittently, but not until after he served 30 days straight.

“Will you still have your job after 30 days?” Lane asked.

“I hope so,” answered Payne.

Payne’s driver’s license was suspended for six months but he can apply for work privileges, said Lane.

Payne was also sentenced to three years of community control and ordered to pay $745 restitution to the Major Crimes Task Force and a $1,250 fine.