By Patrick Winderl
A 20-year-old Havre man has been sentenced to four months in jail for his 19th underage drinking offense.
City Judge Joyce Perszyk sentenced Eric James Jones to the six-month maximum penalty for minor in possession of alcohol and then suspended two months.
Fines and court-ordered alcohol education classes are usually the punishment for the offense.
Persyk said she sentenced Jones to jail because of his extensive record.
"He's no stranger to my courtroom," Perszyk said.
Jones has appeared in City Court on misdemeanor charges nine times since January, Perszyk said. Some of those are still pending.
Shorter jail sentences and fines have not dissuaded his behavior, she said.
"I have two options - fines or jail. He doesn't pay fines, and that leaves me with only one option. If 15 or 45 days didn't do it, maybe four months will," she said. "I don't like to do it, but I've tried everything."
The last time Jones was cited for MIP, he also was arrested on charges of burglary and assaulting an officer. According to a charging document filed in state District Court in Havre, an intoxicated Jones broke into an east end Havre home on Aug. 7 and attempted to steal a puppy and a washing machine.
Havre police received a 911 call at 12:30 a.m. from a woman who reported that the window to her home had been broken out, the document said. When officers arrived, two men were talking in the back yard of the apartment complex, according to the charging document. One of the officers identified Jones, who appeared to be drunk, the document said.
He was placed in custody.
The other man, who is the brother of the resident, told police the sound of breaking glass woke him up. The man discovered a broken window toward the rear of the apartment, and noticed that a puppy and a washing machine had been removed from the room, the document said.
The man went outside where he confronted Jones and asked for his puppy back, the document said. The missing puppy and the washer were both recovered, the document said.
Police transported Jones to the Hill County Detention Center, where he assaulted a detention officer, the document said. He was then placed in a padded holding cell, the document said.
During a City Court arraignment at the detention center later that day, Jones pleaded guilty to MIP.
He was arraigned Thursday in District Court on the burglary and assault charges and pleaded not guilty. The charges, both felonies, carry possible prison sentences.
Perszyk said Jones has been provided with several opportunities to receive chemical dependancy treatment, none of which was successful. Jones enrolled in one program in South Dakota only to leave a day after he was admitted, she said.
Jones declined to be interviewed.
Perszyk said the punishments handed down in court for MIPs are intended to influence young people's decisions. Seeing underage offenders get the message and turn their lives around is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job, she said.
"When they get it, their lives change," she said. "When they don't, they go back to the same patterns."