Man Sentenced for 17th DUI in Belmont County Court; Three Charges Pending


ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A man with almost 20 convictions for driving under the influence was sentenced Monday in Belmont County Common Pleas Court.

Timothy J. Jones, 53, who is listed in court records as indigent with his last known address in Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced to the maximum of three years behind bars for his 17th DUI conviction. The third-degree felony offense occurred March 22. His driver’s license was also revoked for life.

J ones’ defense attorney asked Judge Frank Fregiato to consider imposing less than the maximum sentence, pointing out that Jones was cooperative and entered an immediate plea. The defense also said the details of the case do not involve aggravating circumstances such as an accident or an enhanced breathalyzer test.

Jones’ attorney also asked that the sentence include extensive help for his client’s severe alcohol addiction while he is incarcerated.

Fregiato referred to the pre-sentence investigation and to Jones’ lengthy prior record of convictions for the same offense.

“This defendant has 17 DUI convictions. That alone is absolutely shocking,” Fregiato said. “This defendant has 42 driver’s license suspensions. I quite frankly found that hard to believe.”

Fregiato also pointed out that Jones is facing still more charges for the same type of offense.

“This is what is truly almost mind-boggling: Right now, this defendant has three DUI charges pending in Franklin County. This court can’t figure out why this defendant was not behind bars at that time, and the offense in Belmont County should never have been committed since he should have already been behind bars,” Fregiato said.

“This court believes that the maximum sentence of 36 months in the penitentiary is more than justified. This court — honestly, from my heart and my soul and my review of the file — believes that a greater sentence than 36 months is justified, and I must state if I could give him more than 36 months, I truly would. I believe this individual is an incredible risk to the public — not only to Belmont County, but the entire state of Ohio.”

Intensive alcohol treatment was also ordered.

“I believe there’s absolutely no one in this courtroom that has any doubt that if this defendant would be permitted to walk out of this courtroom, he would drink and drive today and tomorrow and the next day and every day thereafter. Seventeen DUI convictions is more than a mind can grapple with,” Fregiato said.

In another matter before Fregiato on Monday, no plea agreement was reached in the case of Rachel Duncan, which remains set for trial May 17. Duncan, 34, of 109 Park St., St. Clairsville is a St. Clairsville-Richland City Schools teacher and coach who stands accused of inappropriate sexual activity with a former softball player. She faces nine counts of sexual battery, each a felony of the third degree.

Duncan faces a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison and a fine of $90,000 if convicted. She was placed on leave from her job when the allegations came to light.

According to the Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office, the alleged improper conduct took place from January 2014 through May 2016. During part of that time, the alleged victim would have been a juvenile, but prosecutors noted the softball player’s age makes no difference in the case because Duncan was a person in a position of trust.

Evidence in the case includes a forensic examination of phones belonging to Duncan and the former player.