Counseling, not jail, ordered in Salem burglary

LISBON – A Lisbon man who walked into a Salem home more than a year ago was ordered to successfully complete a counseling program to avoid prison time in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

Michael F. Lewis, 30, Caldwell Street previously pleaded guilty to burglary for trespassing at the home of Elizabeth and John Buchanan, South Ellsworth Avenue, Salem, on Dec. 21, 2012. He reportedly damaged the back door of the home in order to get inside.

However, Assistant County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones did not recommend prison time for Lewis. Both she and Lewis’ attorney Doug King noted there were extenuating circumstances involving Lewis’ entrance into the home. Jones said at the time, Lewis was “less than coherent.” King noted there were both medical and psychological issues Lewis was suffering from at the time of the break in.

Additionally, the home at one point in the past belonged to Lewis’ grandmother, and Lewis reportedly still called it her home when police spoke to him about his reasons for being inside.

Jones said there was an agreement for restitution to cover the damage and the current homeowners were in agreement with her recommendation for probation and counseling, provided Lewis agreed to never come into their home again.

According to Jones, Lewis was sentenced to a counseling program, similar to the Eastern Ohio Correction Center programming, by Judge John Durkin in a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. In that case, Lewis pleaded guilty to intimidation, obstructing official business and two counts of vandalism.

If he fails to complete his counseling program successfully, Lewis could be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison here for the burglary charge. In Mahoning County he faces up to six years in prison.

“If you fail there, you fail here,” said Judge C. Ashley Pike, adding he does not want Lewis to fail. He asked for probation officers here to monitor Lewis’ progress in Mahoning County.

While Pike said he was struggling with the decision to place Lewis on probation due to Lewis’ extensive record, Pike also noted obviously someone in Mahoning County decided they wanted to give him a chance for whatever reason.

Lewis noted he knows he has had a problematic past, but he did not intend to burglarize the home on South Ellsworth Avenue that night. He added he knows there are a lot of good things he can do now.

“I’ve known your family,” Pike said, adding he is not familiar with the family members in Lewis’ generation. “Your grandfather was a very good man…Wherever he is now he is probably watching, and you still have a chance to make him proud.”