AUGUSTA — A Belgrade man’s pot smoking, beer drinking and lying got him booted from a specialty court program on Monday.

After admitting violating probation and being terminated from the Co-Occurring Disorders and Veterans Court, Jeremy Carl McCaslin, 41, was sentenced for a March 2014 robbery at the Big Apple convenience store on Stone Street where he held a clerk at knifepoint.

Justice William Stokes ordered McCaslin to serve an initial 4 1/2 years of a 15-year sentence with the remainder suspended and four years’ probation. That was the sentence recommended by Assistant District Attorney David Spencer and McCaslin’s defense attorney, Sherry Tash.

The sentence imposed at the Capital Judicial Center also includes shorter stretches for eluding an officer and operating after suspension that occurred Dec. 8, 2013, in Belgrade, as well as a theft and several counts of violating conditions of release.

Tash told Stokes that McCaslin had made “really significant progress” since being admitted to the program in late 2014. Tash said McCaslin had been a hardcore drug user who was found unconscious on the side of the road after attempting suicide a month before the robbery.

McCaslin was arrested shortly after the robbery which occurred about 10 p.m. March 30, 2014, after witnesses provided a description of the suspect’s clothing and vehicle.

Tash said the specialty court had helped McCaslin.

“He’s back in the good graces of his family,” she said, noting that his parents and other relatives were in court and had written letters supporting him.

She said he had started a business, regained his license, gotten a home and paid restitution.

“To me it’s nothing short of a miracle because his criminal record is so bad,” Tash said.

McCaslin too spoke to the judge, saying, “I want to say the CODC program did save my life along with my mother, who is a saint.”

Then he turned to the family members sitting behind him in the courtroom.

“This is not going to derail me,” McCaslin said. “I probably deserve the time I’m getting. I probably deserve more. Going to prison is going to sting. It’s going to sting a lot.”

McCaslin was wearing a blue, two-piece jail uniform from Two Bridges Regional Jail, where he’s been held since his arrest in November 2016.

He said the latest infraction of the specialty court’s rules caused him to lose his business and his home. A probation officer visited him at his home last November, and a routine check indicated McCaslin had been smoking marijuana and drinking beer. There had been several other probation violations previously as well.

“You sound like you are a very articulate, intelligent man,” Stokes told him. “Drugs stole your life or a good chunk of it. That’s what’s happening to many, many people in this state.”

Spencer told the judge that while McCaslin had made progress, “he never got to the point where that criminal thinking was fully under control.”

Spencer said McCaslin was on probation for aggravated forgery when he committed the armed robbery. McCaslin’s criminal record dates to 1996.

Part of Monday’s sentence included an order for McCaslin to pay $385 restitution, which has been paid in full, and a prohibition from being at the Big Apple on Stone Street and the Waterville House of Pizza and from having contact with several people, including the store clerk.

The attorneys said that McCaslin has already served about a year behind bars toward the sentence. If he had successfully completed the specialty court, he could have averted further jail time.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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