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Two drug court drop-outs will serve time

FARMINGTON — Two people who were accepted into the St. Francois County Drug Court program on the same day almost two years ago were kicked out of the program on the same day and then sentenced on the same day.

During his law day on Wednesday, Circuit Court Judge Kenneth W. Pratte sentenced Jake Douglas Counts, 24, of Park Hills to seven years in prison for possession of meth and possession of a meth precursor drug.

Shortly afterward, Judge Pratte sentenced Debra Penberthy (McVay), 42, of Bonne Terre, to seven years in prison for possession of cocaine.

According to drug court officials, Counts was kicked out for continuing to use drugs and Penberthy was kicked out after she was caught drinking.

Both had private attorneys who argued for lighter sentences.

Counts’ attorney Jack Leftridge said Counts is a young man whose offense seems to be more self-damaging than anything else. He asked the judge to consider a shorter sentence of four years.

Leftridge said in all likelihood, Counts would have received probation if he hadn’t decided to participate in the drug treatment program. Counts had no prior offenses.

Penberthy’s attorney, Jim Hafner, said Penberthy has worked full time at a nursing home and attended drug and alcohol meetings regularly. She made it to Stage 4 of drug court and would have already graduated if she had not had trouble getting her GED. A requirement of the program is participants must earn a GED if they don’t already have one.

He said Penberthy did kick her drug habit. He said it seems a shame to send someone who has been working full time and who has kicked a drug habit to prison for seven years.

He said other courts in other jurisdictions would consider going ahead and giving her probation. He asked for probation with a 120 days of shock incarceration or something less than the maximum sentence.

In other cases, Jason D. Adams, 25, of Desloge, was sentenced to five years in prison for violating the probation he received for passing a bad check. If his parole is not revoked for other charges, he could have the opportunity to be released on another term of probation if he successfully completes a 120-day drug treatment program.

Amber Garner, 21, of Farmington, was sentenced to seven years in prison for violating the probation she received for forgery. The judge will consider releasing her on a new term of probation after she completes a 120-day shock incarceration program.

Melvin McClinton, a Potosi Correctional Center inmate, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for committing violence against a Department of Corrections employee.

Placed on five years of supervised probation were Matthew Fisher, 43, of Imperial, for bad checks (Alford plea); Ricardo Powell, 30, of French Village, for failure to pay child support; Gary J. Counts, 43, of Park Hills, for second-degree burglary; Edward L. Baugh Jr., 31, of Illinois, for passing a bad check; and Samantha Robards, 34, of Farmington, for stealing.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at

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