Judge goes easy on sober defendant

MARIETTA – Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane granted a defendant’s request for a chance to turn his life around Friday.

During his sentencing hearing Friday on a fifth-degree felony charge of breaking and entering, former Marietta resident Michael Hollingsworth, 34, of 4612 Estes Park Road, Fort Worth, Texas, told Lane the driving force behind the attempted theft of bars of bronze aluminum from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility in Marietta in September and the other crimes on his record was drug and alcohol abuse.

He said he’s been clean 10 months and was holding down a job as a welder in Texas before returning to the area with his family to serve his time.

“So you think you’re ready to walk away from the drug life?” Lane said.

“Yes, sir. I know I am,” Hollingsworth said. “I’ve already started on that path.”

Lane sentenced Hollingsworth to 60 days in the Washington County Jail, with credit for three days served, and five years of community control. After 45 days, he will be eligible to transfer to the minimum-security, community-based SEPTA Correctional Facility in Nelsonville, for a 150-day program aimed at addressing issues like chemical dependency.

“I guess you don’t ever give up hope that somebody will turn their life around, so I’m going to give you that chance,” the judge said.

Hollingsworth had faced as much as a year in prison, and Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Jared Erb recommended a six-month sentence. After the hearing, Erb said he had no issue with the sentence Lane imposed.

“It’s fair,” he said. “He’s effectively getting the same amount of time out of society; it’s just in a different environment.”

Hollingsworth told Lane he can return to his job in Texas after completing his sentence.

Hollingsworth and Alex J. Handschumacher, 35, of 10 Browns Road, Marietta, were arrested Sept. 22 after allegedly crawling under a chain link fence at the Corps site near the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers. A night watchman spotted them and called Marietta Police, who arrived and apprehended the men while they were attempting to move a heavy piece of metal, carrying it about six feet at a time before setting it down, officers reported.

The metal was worth an estimated $10,000.

Both men were indicted on a fourth-degree felony charge of grand theft and a fifth-degree felony count of breaking and entering. Hollingsworth pleaded guilty to the second charge as part of a plea agreement.

The prosecutor’s office said there is a warrant out for Handschumacher’s arrest and he is incarcerated in West Virginia.