Man sentenced after failing to kick habit in drug court

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva sent a Tyrone area man to state prison for 2 to five years after concluding that, despite several years in drug court, he is not serious about giving up his habit.

Gary Lee Decker, 41, of Tyrone RD 2 was not bitter when he appeared before Kopriva late last week.

“I apologize for not complying with your program. I thank you for giving me the chance,” said Decker, who first came to the court’s attention after a 2006 driving under the influence offense.

Decker’s record, as of Friday’s appearance before Kopriva for parole violation, included three driving under the influence arrests and a charge of possession with intent to deliver.

Kopriva pointed out that the local drug court worked with Decker for a long time, including placing him in an inpatient treatment facility, but whatever the court tried to do to help him failed.

She called the Decker case “very tragic,” noting he had been through tough experiences in his life.

Kopriva said that getting better from drug addiction involved a lot of hard work, which she said, Decker was not willing to do.

“You are not ready [to quit drugs]. You haven’t done any work at all to change. … You don’t really care,” Kopriva said. “You don’t put any effort into it.”

She said that Decker often blames his situation on other people or circumstances.

“These are red flags your addiction is still in place,” Kopriva said.

The judge made the decision to send Decker to prison so he could be placed in a state drug treatment program. If he successfully completes the program, his minimum sentence could be reduced from 30 to 22 months through the Recidivism Risk Reduction Program.

The program will take 15 months to complete, and it takes time to gain enrollment into it, Kopriva said as she explained the length of the sentence she imposed.

“There is no reason to send you to jail to warehouse you,” she said, adding that the goal is treatment.

According to court records, Decker was arrested in June 2006 , after police found him passed out in a vehicle with the engine running. He tested positive for heroin.

In September 2011, police investigating an accident determined Decker was under the influence of three different drugs, including methadone. In April 2011, he was arrested for selling 13 baggies of heroin to a confidential informant for $175.

Blair County probation officer Patrick Gates brought Decker into court on Friday for violating his probation, which included testing “hot” for the use of bath salts and for moving from his residence without authorization.

Decker admitted his probation violations.

“When you find your recovery, you will be free. Make this work. Do the hard work,” Kopriva told Decker.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.