By MELINDA WILLIAMS
A Pulaski County judge Thursday all but challenged a woman to complete drug treatment and overcome her addiction to pain medications.
Circuit Court Judge Marcus Long Jr. ordered 30-year-old Natalie Nicole Brown to complete both the inpatient and outpatient drug rehabilitation programs at Mount Regis Center in Roanoke. Brown was in court on a probation revocation stemming from a 2012 conviction of possession of Methadone.
“If you come back in here on another probation violation – I don’t care if it’s for spitting on the sidewalk – you’ll have two and a half years to serve,” the judge told Brown. “I don’t think you can do it.”
He added that he believes Brown is a drug addict and manipulator. “I think I’ll see you back in here, but I hope not.”
Brown was brought back to court for violating probation by being convicted of driving on a suspended drivers license, not paying court costs and not completing court-ordered community service. However, she acknowledged that she would have violated probation much earlier if her Roanoke probation officer had been testing her for drugs.
“From the time I was placed on probation I was still struggling with drug addiction,” Brown testified. She said she was prescribed pain medication about seven to eight years ago and became addicted to them. When she no longer had a prescription she was getting them anywhere she could.
She contends she remained drug free after getting out of jail on the driving charge in July. She was arrested on the probation violation in September and remains incarcerated.
Noting that this is the longest period she has spent in jail, the mother of three children called it a “serious eye opener.” She blamed “procrastination” for her failure to pay court costs and perform community service.
During the time she was free from drugs (July-September), Brown said her father allowed her to work for his business. She noted that her family “will go to any lengths” to support her when she’s not using drugs.
If returned to probation, she said she would be willing to undergo any drug treatment program the court might deem appropriate, she would work to pay her court costs and she expects to undergo routine drug testing.
Pointing to earlier testimony by Brown that she makes good money when she can work for her father, Judge Long noted that drugs apparently were of greater priority to Brown than paying court costs at that time.
Brown agreed that drugs were her “only priority” at that time. She explained that she didn’t seek help for her addiction at that time because “I was caught up” in the drugs.
Long pointed out Virginia Department of Corrections has a good drug rehabilitation program that takes about three years to complete. Three years was the amount of time remaining on Brown’s sentence.
Fighting back tears, Brown’s father told the judge, “At one point I actually wished she was dead so we wouldn’t have to worry so much” about Brown and her three children.” However, Timothy Simmons said “something clicked” in his daughter before she was returned to jail in September and he believes “she’s really starting to get it now.”
Simmons said he is willing to give Brown a job if she is released on probation. If she “messes up again” he said he would be the first to turn her in to authorities.
Asked by the judge where he has been in the past, Simmons said he has tried to help Brown, but “she has to want to go” for help.
Judge Long said he would like to send Brown to the New Life substance abuse program, but it would cost her about $4,000 since she lives outside Pulaski County.
“I’ll work my fingers to the bone to do it if that’s what it takes,” said Brown.
“I don’t want to set you up for failure,” the judge told her.
After being advised of the Mount Regis program, he revoked the full three years remaining on Brown’s sentence, and then re-suspended all but six months. After serving the six-month sentence, he ordered Brown to complete Mount Regis. Brown also will be placed on three years of active probation upon release from jail.