Oak Creek man sentenced in series of crimes

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— A month-long drinking binge landed a 33-year-old Oak Creek man six months in the Routt County Jail.

Troy O'Neil was given the jail term by 14th Judicial District Judge Joel S. Thompson Friday afternoon. Thompson also ordered O'Neil pay $7,100 in restitution and placed him on four years of supervised probation.

"All of these incidents that happened in a short amount of time can be traced to alcohol," said James Horner, O'Neil's attorney. "He has stopped drinking and taking drugs."

From the start of last December through New Year's Day, O'Neil got in trouble three separate times.

On Dec. 3, O'Neil broke a window and pleaded guilty to intimidating a witness, a class four felony, and criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 9, O'Neil stole a red 1989 Ford truck from Jim Stetson's ranch on County Road 14.

O'Neil stole the truck after a vehicle he was in went off the road and became stuck.

With the stolen truck, O'Neil drove two other men home. He later disposed of the truck by putting it in gear and letting it travel into a field.

The truck's engine seized up, the radiator was damaged and a tire was blown out, causing $5,100 in damage. O'Neil pleaded guilty to second-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft and agreed to pay for the damage caused to the truck.

Just after midnight on New Year's Day, O'Neil got on a Steamboat Springs Transit bus and threatened a bus driver with a ski pole. For that incident, O'Neil pleaded guilty to menacing, a class five felony, and violation of a bail bond condition, a misdemeanor.

"These are things Troy O'Neil would not have done if it weren't for the alcohol," Horner said.

Along with the sentence, Thompson ordered O'Neil to do community service, get treatment for alcohol and drug abuse and pay for the cost of care for his time in the Routt County Jail, which is about $1,800.

A somber O'Neil apologized for his actions.

"I apologize for everything I did," O'Neil said fighting back tears. "I want the court to understand I am not the same person I was six months ago."

Horner said his client turned to alcohol in a time when he was having trouble with his finances and with his marriage.

Earlier this year, O'Neil entered and completed a 30-day substance abuse program in Arizona.

"He is committed to bettering himself and getting on with the rest of his life," Horner said.

During the one-hour sentencing hearing, Thompson heard from O'Neil's mother, Penni Traylor, and a friend, Carl Stewart.

Thompson is hopeful O'Neil will keep moving forward with his treatment and stay out of trouble in the future.

"You have to get a handle on your life," Thompson said. "You have reached a crisis point. These are stupid things. If this continues, you are looking at a situation where you are headed to prison."

Thompson ordered O'Neil to turn himself in to the Routt County Jail at 5 p.m. Friday.

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