Judge Moats delves deeper into meth problem in Taylor County

TAYLOR COUNTY—While presiding over a case in Taylor County Circuit Court, Judge Alan D. Moats took the time to learn more about why individuals choose to use methamphetamine.

During a revocation hearing, Benjamin Allan Mooney was able to give some insight into his usage of the deadly drug, while answering questions asked by the judge.

He told Moats that for the past couple of years, he had quickly become addicted to methamphetamine, and had almost escaped its tight grasp, but was quickly drawn back in.

“Mr. Mooney was accepted into the Legends program and successfully completed it. He was then transferred to sober living and was terminated from their program after he began using drugs again,” shared Community Corrections Director Tammy Narog. “He was then accepted into another treatment facility in Charleston but was terminated from that program and was sent back to jail.”

Mooney expressed to the court that he thought he was doing wonderful through the sober living program at Opportunity House in Buckhannon, but when he left to visit Grafton, everything went downhill, and he was pulled back to the siren call of meth.

“Opportunity House is the best that I have done. I feel comfortable there and the brotherhood there is something amazing,” he told Moats. “My major problem Grafton. I struggle with my addiction when I come here.”

Moats questioned the defendant about the draw of meth and what it makes him feel like when on it.

“At first, it gives you so much energy,” Mooney explained. “It keeps you high for a couple of days, and then you just go to sleep. But, when you wake up, you feel like you need it again to even move.”

He told the court that in his experience, it does not make him feel aggressive or like he could take on anyone that got in his way, but he did admit that the drug certainly clouded his judgement.

“I was doing good, and I knew what I had to lose, but I decided to use it one time and that was all it took,” he said.

Taylor County Prosecuting Attorney John Bord spoke to Mooney’s character prior to his drug usage and addiction.

“I’ve known Mr. Mooney for many, many years, and when he isn’t on drugs, he is a solid citizen,” Bord expressed. “Drug addiction totally changes him. He has helped coach children’s sports teams in the county, and it is extremely disappointing to see the talent and ability that he has, just thrown away.”

Moats and Bord agreed that methamphetamine usage has become a major issue in Taylor County.

“Everyone is focused on the opioid crisis, but that’s not our issue here. It is all meth, all the time,” Moats voiced. “It is what we deal with day in and day out, and no matter how many officials I reach out to or try to explain that to, I just can’t get through to them.”

He said that often times, he hears the statement all drug users should go to the prison, that he should be stricter on them when they are in court.

“The penitentiary should be the last resort, the last step in the process,” Bord commented. “If the court took a hardline stance and sent everyone to the pen, people would never know what treatment is and what it could do for them.”

Moats agreed, and addressed Mooney’s addiction with him once more, and discussed his options moving forward.

“I would really appreciate the chance to try again,” Mooney said. “When I got so close to having my life back, I threw it all away. I don’t want to do that again.”

Moats ordered that for his actions, Mooney would serve a 30-day sanction, and that he would allow him back into sober living, but with strict guidelines.

“I want to see you succeed. You need all the help you can get, and we are offering you that help, you just need to take it,” Moats voiced. “Take it seriously, if not for yourself, for your five children. If you mess up this time, you will be going back to jail and will be charged with escape.”

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