Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

After string of robberies, man released on bail into treatment program

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The last time Jason Stein was in court, he vowed never to touch drugs again and become a role model for young people.

But eight years later, Stein was back in court alleged to have a committed a string of store thefts and robberies to feed a drug habit.

Stein, 41, was given bail Monday on condition he remain at a local Christian faith treatment program.

"We know (Stein) made some mistakes but this is somebody who wants some consideration," Steve Paulson, executive director of Teen Challenge, told court on behalf of Stein.

Stein broke down in tears as Paulson pleaded for the court to release him into the rigid Teen Challenge program until his matters can be dealt with at a trial.

"There really is a good person there," Paulson said.

Stein was arrested last month after it is alleged he was involved in a series of crimes between February 2012 and June 2013 involving thefts from drug stores, grocery stores, and several electronic stores where expensive mobile phones were stolen.

There was an incident in April where it was alleged that Stein and a co-accused loaded up a grocery cart at a Superstore with flat-screen TVs and walked out. Then, it is alleged Stein went back in a few minutes later and carried out a $900 flat-screen TV.

Crown prosecutor Eric Hachinski opposed Stein’s release, arguing he had been picked up and released four separate times during that crime spree and had repeatedly broken terms of his release.

Defence counsel Steven Keesic told the court Stein was able to stay drug-free and out of trouble from 2004 to 2012 because of his involvement with Teen Challenge, but he slipped because of his addictions.

Stein’s drug problems originated when he was shot and nearly killed during a dispute over ownership of a snowmobile in May 2000. He required 14 surgeries. His arm was permanently disfigured and he struggled with severe physical and emotional pain.

That led to a string of 24 cocaine-fueled robberies in 2003 which brought him to court in April 2005.

He got a one-year sentence after telling the court that while awaiting trial in the Teen Challenge program he had found Jesus, had beaten his drug habit and was a changed man.

"I made the choice to never touch drugs again," Stein told the court back in April 2005. "I made the decision to accept Christ in my life.

"I didn’t do this for the courts. I did this because I wasn’t proud of who I was."

After serving his one-year sentence, Stein returned to work at Teen Challenge but left the program in 2009.

Keesic described Teen Challenge as operating a strict program, with a 24-hour curfew, security cameras and alarms, and a record of reporting individuals who breached conditions.

Provincial court Judge Tim Killeen said the Crown had a strong case, with security video surveillance or witness identifications for all the crimes Stein is alleged to have committed.

Stein, "appears to be someone who was completely out of control to feed his drug and alcohol habit," Killeen said.

Killeen noted Stein had a criminal record that began 10 years before the shooting incident left him addicted to drugs.

While acknowledging Stein had repeatedly breached his terms of release while living on his own, Killeen said he was satisfied Stein would comply with strict bail conditions if he remained at Teen Challenge.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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