Thursday, February 26th, 2009
By Margie Wuebker
Man blames drug use for TV thefts
  Stealing three flat screen televisions from the local Wal-Mart store has resulted in another prison term for an Indiana man.
Darren Valens, 34, of Fort Wayne, told Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Ingraham last week that reckless decisions related to marijuana and heavy drugs led to the latest string of offenses occurring in November and December 2006.
Ingraham imposed 10 months on each of three theft charges with the time to run concurrently with a recent sentence handed down in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court as well as a current term he is serving in the Indiana Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. The defendant received credit for 128 already served during dependency of the local case and was ordered to pay $2,762 restitution.
Upon his release from an Indiana prison in 2010, Valens likely faces extradition to Illinois for disposition of a pending theft case there.
"Darren has a promising future if he gets out of jail and stays off drugs," defense attorney Peter VanArdel said as his client nodded in agreement. "He was a union carpenter before getting tangled up in marijuana and heavy drugs."
Valens took advantage of an opportunity to address the court, telling Ingraham, "I missed my son's whole life because of reckless decisions. I have taken classes since going to prison and I want a chance for life on the outside. Have mercy on me."
Ingraham, who listened intently throughout the comments, replied, "Hopefully your statements are true. Make the most out of possibilities available to you if you don't want to spend the rest of your life in prison. You landed in this situation, but in reality it was due to your own decisions."
The 2006 offenses took place Nov. 17, Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 when Valens and an accomplice visited the local store and made off with three televisions. The Van Wert offenses also occurred in November of that year.
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