The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 6, 2013

Clinton man sentenced for writing bad checks to pay for addiction

By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — A Clinton man who wrote bad checks to buy items he traded for drugs will be sent to a residential corrections facility, a Clinton County District Judge ordered Thursday.

Michael J. Halsted, 33, pleaded guilty in October to second-degree theft, a Class D felony, for writing more than $1,000 in bad checks to the Clinton Liquor and Convenience Store, 1641 Bluff Blvd.

Halsted wrote 11 checks from his closed bank account totaling $1,368 to the store between June 7 and 10. Checks ranged from $28 to $277.

During his sentencing hearing Thursday, Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf reiterated to Judge Henry Latham that Halsted stated the purpose for writing the bad checks was to purchase items and trade them for drugs.

Halsted told the court his actions were fueled by a drug addiction that grew after he hired an employee to drive his truck and began staying at home instead of working.

“My addiction got bigger and bigger and spiraled out of control,” Halsted testified.

He asked for time in a residential correctional facility in order to improve his life, get back to work and reconnect with his family. Since he bonded out of jail in October, Halsted said he found a job and got married.

“I’m sorry for what I did and I’m asking for a last chance,” Halsted said.

After Halsted’s testimony, his attorney Judd Parker asked if Halsted’s grandmother could testify, but Latham deemed it unnecessary.

Wolf suggested Halsted face incarceration for his crimes considering his past chances on probation.

While the judge did not consider it in his sentencing, Halsted in November was charged with another felony theft for actions similar to those he carried out in June. Halsted also has a pending theft in the fourth degree charge.

Further, he pleaded guilty this month to operating while intoxicated, which Halsted said happened while he was on pills and attempting to commit suicide.

Prior to his latest round of charges, Halsted’s last criminal actions occurred nearly a decade ago, Latham noted before suspending a five-year prison sentence.

Although he considered incarceration, Latham instead ordered Halsted to three years of court supervision and time in a residential corrections facility where he will undergo mental health and drug evaluations and treatment.

“I think this is going to be the last chance for you. If you don’t make it work, you’re probably going to end up back in this courtroom in front of myself or another judge and probably go to prison for a probation vioaltion,” Latham told Halsted. “This type of behavior cannot continue. You’re old enough to know better.”

In addition, Halsted was ordered to pay $1,368 in restitution to the Clinton Liquor and Convenience store.