Sentence change upheld by appeals court

Larry Limpf

The Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals has upheld the sentencing by Wood County Common Pleas Court of a woman to prison after it originally imposed a sentence of community control.
Melissa Foley, 41, Perrysburg, had pled guilty to possession of cocaine, a fifth degree felony, and endangering children, a third-degree felony.
The common pleas court in May 2019 imposed a sentence of community control with the condition she not consume alcohol and she attend Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step support meetings.
At the sentencing hearing, the court informed Foley a violation of the community control sanctions could lead to a more restrictive sentence, including a 12-month prison term for the cocaine infraction and 36 months for the endangering charge.
In July 2020, the prosecution filed a motion to revoke her community control, alleging she violated it by testing positive for alcohol and later filed another motion, alleging she failed to attend support meetings and submitted falsified proof of attendance.
On Jan. 12, 2021 the court set a 30-day sentence in Wood County Jail and continued community control. But before entering the judgment, the court learned Foley had been discharged from the Cherry Street Mission and had forged letters of support to the court from an employee of the mission and from her brother.
During a Jan. 15 hearing, the court revoked her community control and imposed the two prison terms to be served concurrently.
In her appeal, Foley argued the court failed to explain how the letters altered its disposition of her community control violations “just three days after determining that her dishonesty didn’t warrant termination of community control.”
She also contended she was punished for that conduct “on the court’s own initiative,” without a separate petition to revoke her community control, violating her right to due process.
The appeals court ruled the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion when it convened a new disposition hearing to address false information and fraudulent letters of support submitted by Foley to avoid stricter sanctions following two admitted community control violations.
“The court had not yet entered judgment following its first scheduled disposition hearing when it learned of Foley’s deceit, so it possessed authority to revisit the order and pronounce a new disposition,” the appeals court wrote.


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