June 18th, 2024

Drug treatment court inductees provided one last chance to fly straight

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on November 3, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

The next 16 months or so may be some of toughest Mason Doyle Cranston has ever faced.

Cranston will have to avoid many of his friends, abstain from alcohol and drugs, and comply with a curfew from 9:30 p.m to 6 a.m. every day. He can’t go into businesses whose main purpose is to sell alcohol or cannabis; he can’t gamble, whether for money or other stakes; he can’t possess any weapons, including a knife unless it’s for eating or work; he can’t be in a motor vehicle without the registered owner; and he can’t go into Galt Gardens downtown. He can’t even possess a cellphone; no more Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, texting or calling friends.

That is, unless he wants to go to jail.

During a hearing this week in Lethbridge provincial court, Cranston, who already has a lengthy criminal record, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, mischief, theft, possession of stolen property, shopbreaking, being unlawfully in a dwelling house, failure to comply with release conditions, and housebreaking with intent. Instead of being sentenced, however, he was released on $1,500 no-cash bail and numerous conditions, then accepted into the Lethbridge drug treatment court program.

The program helps people charged with criminal offences avoid almost certain jail in lieu of complying with numerous, stringent conditions, which also include regular court attendance, routine monitoring, and intensive counselling and treatment. In fact, it might be easier to just plead guilty to the charges and accept a jail sentence, but that doesn’t address the underlying drug addiction, typically responsible for an accused’s criminal conduct.

Cranston’s charges relate to offences over the past two years in Taber and Lethbridge, which began on June 15, 2020 in which he defrauded a bank in Taber by using a debit card belonging to another person to deposit three empty envelopes into the person’s account, then withdrawing $1,000, knowing money had not been deposited.

He was caught again on Jan. 9 of this year, when he was at the loading bay of Walmart in Taber and was wearing an employee vest even though he didn’t work at the store. A manager questioned Cranston, who immediately left and discarded the vest. The manager checked the area and found that a lock had been cut off a bay door, and bolt cutters were lying nearby. Cranston was apprehended shortly afterward during a traffic stop.

Two weeks later he was in trouble again, this time in Lethbridge at an auto sales business where he stole a key to a vehicle before fleeing in another vehicle.

He continued committing crimes over the next few months by stealing a bicycle from a Taber school, breaking into a construction business, breaking into an apartment, breaking into a commercial property and stealing a grease gun, and breaking into another residence while the owner was sleeping.

Despite the offences, Crown Prosecutor Adam Zelmer told court if Cranston successfully completes the drug treatment court program, the Crown and defence will not recommend a custodial sentence.

Scott Mark McMonagle and Kyle Joseph Plume could get the same break. Both men were also admitted into the drug treatment court program, and allowed to remain out of custody as long as they comply with a long and strict list of similar conditions.

“All those conditions are crystal clear,” McMonagle assured the judge.

McMonagle pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including possession of break-in tools, shopbreaking and commit mischief, theft, and several breaches. Plume pleaded guilty, as well, to charges of housebreaking, mischief causing damage, using a stolen credit card, failing to attend court and breaching release conditions.

All three men must comply with the rules of the drug treatment court, and if they successfully complete the program, their last court hearing will be a ceremony celebrating their graduation.

“It’s a huge amount of work, but it’s worth it; we know you’re worth it,” Judge Erin Olsen told Plume.

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No cash bail???? No stake in the game.