The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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August 14, 2008

Judge orders jail in pipe-theft try

EBENSBURG — A Johnstown man who admitted he’s been addicted to drugs and alcohol for years was sentenced Thursday to 11 1/2 to 23 months in the county jail for breaking into a vacant house and attempting to steal copper piping.

Artrell Hawkins Sr. also drew a concurrent term of six to 23 months on a guilty plea to stealing a digital camera.

He told Judge Norman Krumenacker, “I started drug addiction as a kid. It consumes me, controls me. The only way I can control my addiction to stay in the (rehabilitation) program.”

Saying that he’s attempting to stay away from drugs and alcohol, Hawkins said, “I live my life one day at a time. If I don’t control my problem, I will end up back in the court system.”

Public Defender Maribeth Schaffer said that Hawkins had completed some rehab programs.

Hawkins, 51, of the 300 block of Wood Street, was given until noon Tuesday to report to the county prison. He will be eligible for work release, the judge said.

“If you fail to appear, I will bring you back and sentence you to five years in state prison,” Krumenacker warned.

In the criminal trespass case, Hawkins was accused of illegally entering the vacant double house on March 11 in the 100 block of Dupont Street.

A gas meter-reader discovered Hawkins attempting to crawl from a basement window, the police said. The copper piping was found on the floor, and water was spreading onto the basement floor, the police said.

Hawkins also was accused of stealing the camera from an Oak Street house on Oct. 9.

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