Former firefighter avoids conviction, gets treatment

By Kelsey Leyva -

A former Elyria firefighter was granted intervention in lieu of conviction last Wednesday after pleading guilty to theft in office charges.

Jeffrey Castle, 54, of Wellington, resigned in November after an investigation revealed he had been stealing cleaning supplies from two different fire stations.

A picture of the supplies in Castle’s Wellington home tipped off Elyria fire chief Rich Benton and sparked the investigation.

Kenneth Lieux, Castle’s attorney, said offenders need to meet certain criteria in order to qualify for intervention in lieu of conviction. The offense has to be non-violent and the offender must have been under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or mental illness at the time of the crime to qualify.

Lieux said Castle committed an eligible offense and has been dealing with a mental illness. He declined to go into detail about the illness.

Castle will be on probation for one year and must successfully complete a treatment program.

“He meets with a counselor on a regular basis and they address in private counseling the issues that he brings to the table,” Lieux said.

Although the probation period is one year, the treatment could take longer based on the professional’s recommendations.

Lieux said the benefit of the intervention statute is two fold.

“Number one, the person can get professional help whatever the issue may be, whether it’s drug, alcohol, or mental health issues, and two, the end result is the charges against the person are dismissed so the person doesn’t have a felony conviction or a record,” he said.

Kelsey Leyva can be reached at 440-647-3171 and @TWE_KelseyLeyva on Twitter.

By Kelsey Leyva