Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Allegations counter vow of becoming role model

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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, he was back in court, alleged to have 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 drug-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's alleged he was involved in a series of crimes between February 2012 and June 2013, involving thefts from drugstores, grocery stores and several electronic stores where expensive mobile phones were stolen.

An alleged incident in April had Stein and a co-accused loading up a grocery cart at a Superstore with flat-screen TVs and walking out. Then, it's 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 times during that crime spree and had repeatedly broken terms of his release.

Defence counsel Steven Keesic told 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-fuelled robberies in 2003 that 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 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.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2013 A6

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