CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A circuit judge went beyond a prosecutor's recommended penalty for Charleston Mayor Danny Jones' son, charged with drug offenses, and sentenced him to two years probation.
Zachary Jones, 25, is currently living in a group home as part of a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program. He told the judge he has been clean and sober since his arrest six months ago.
Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom commended him, but said he would take a harsher stance than the state's requested sentence of time already served. Jones spent 103 days in jail after he was picked up by police and charged with intent to sell cocaine.
Bloom could have sentenced Jones to up to six months in jail.
Defense attorney Bill Forbes told the judge, "He has a good focus on what the future has for him. If anybody has a chance, he does.
"All his steps have been positive. Seems to me he's close enough to shore that it does not do any good to hit him in the head with a life preserver," Forbes said.
Assistant Prosecutor James Bailey said, "You can tell he's made enough progress and we wish him nothing but the best of luck."
Jones told the judge he couldn't promise success forever against his addiction. But he said he was living in a downtown group home and working in a restaurant.
"I have six months clean and sober," he told Bloom. "As long as I'm staying sober, you'll never see me in this courtroom again.
After his arrest in March, Mayor Jones said he was "heartbroken" and called his son a "hopeless drug addict."
Jones and Moldavian Harris, 24, of Detroit, were stopped on I-77 just north of Charleston. In the car police found 25.7 grams of cocaine, an amount they said indicated activity of sales.
The mayor asked law enforcement and judicial authorities to cut his son no slack, nor to treat him worse than any other defendant. He said he hoped jail would help his son. He did not attend the sentencing hearing.
Bloom ordered Jones into a drug treatment program.
On Wednesday the judge said, "I do know it's a day-to-day, moment-by-moment struggle. Contrary to the recommendation by the state, I'm giving you two years probation."
"I sincerely wish you the best," Bloom said. "You are a very bright young man. If you can just get these shackles off you."
Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cher...@dailymail.com or 304-48-4832.