More Drug Dealers Are Sentenced In Moundsville

More sentences were handed down for convicted drug dealers in Marshall County Friday, including for a husband and wife, who were given identical sentences for their crimes.

Susan Stephens, 38, of Moundsville, had previously pleaded guilty to three felony charges, including delivery of a controlled substance and conspiracy to do the same. At an earlier hearing, her attorney, Howard Klatt, pointed out numerous difficulties in Stephens’ life as mitigating factors, which culminated in her arrest last September. On Friday, Klatt revisited the same issues, such as a rough childhood.

“Ms. Stephens is a tragic figure with regard to her family background, with alcoholic parents, she was sexually abused … . She was kicked out of her home when she was 15,” Klatt said. “She certainly has led a very hard life. In no way am I indicating that as the reason why she’s here today, but it certainly is a mitigating factor.”

Circuit Judge Jeff Cramer, however, said he could not overlook the willingness with which Stephens conducted various drug deals, which did not match up to the sympathetic portrayal. Since the hearing last month, Cramer said he had reviewed the videos of Stephens’ interactions with confidential informants, which revealed a different facet of her personality.

“I believe that she was active — very active — in the drug sales here in Marshall County,” Cramer said. “In one of the videos, she’s talking with the CI, and while waiting for a person to show up with suboxone pills, she asks, ‘Do you like Ritalin? I get those tomorrow, if you want any. I’ll give them to you cheap.’ So, I understand that she took responsibility for her actions, though I don’t feel she had much choice.”

In light of Stephens’ actions since her initial apprehension, including finding employment and seeking entry into the drug court program, Cramer sentenced Stephens to three consecutive terms of one to five years, an effective three-to-15-year sentence. After six months, she will be eligible to have the sentence reduced.

Stephens’ estranged husband, John Stephens, 50, was similarly sentenced for the same crimes.

“Given that Mr. Stephens and Mrs. Stephens were joined at the hip, more or less, with the drug sales as part of these charges, I think it’s only proper that the sentence for the same crimes be similar, given that they’re co-conspirators,” Cramer said.

John Stephens was also sentenced to an effective three-to-15-year sentence, with eligibility to reduce the sentence after having served six months.

Also sentenced Friday was David Ralbusky, 35, who pleaded guilty to two counts of delivery of a controlled substance. Ralbusky had numerous family members appear on his behalf to testify toward the positive impact he has, including as the sole father-figure to his three step-children and one child, coaching Little League baseball in the area, and other activities.

Cramer, however, pointed out Ralbusky’s extensive criminal history, which included nearly 10 felony counts prior to his arrest in September, as a limiting factor in how lenient he could afford to be. Ralbusky had previously served prison time for several counts including prescription fraud and burglary.

“While I sympathize with his present situation, and what his incarceration will do to his family, I cannot overlook his criminal history,” Cramer said. “The fact that he’s already served lengthy prison sentences, and those sentences weren’t sufficient to keep him from committing further felonies. Call it an indiscretion — or two indiscretions, given the charges — but the bottom line is, it’s a felony offense.”

Ralbusky was sentenced to one-to-five years in prison. He will be eligible to file to have his sentence reduced at a later date.

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