Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 30, 2012

Mom gets jail time

BY JOE OLENICK, joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

A city woman will serve six months in Niagara County Jail for attempting to obtain drugs without a prescription, instead trying to do so by telling local pharmacies she needed the drugs to pay a ransom for her kids.

Prior to be sentenced Wednesday in State Supreme Court, Barbara A. Vaughn, 34, Harvey Avenue, apologized in front of Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. In November, she pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted second-degree grand larceny, a class D non-violent felony.

Vaughn said she never realized the hold addiction had on her.

"It took precedence over everything, including my children," Vaughn said.

Vaughn has been clean for 81 days, the longest period in seven years, her attorney Brian Hutchison said. He added Vaughn struggled with depression, anxiety and mental health issues.

But there was a time things were going well. As recently as 2011, Vaughn had three jobs and was taking care of her two kids, until she developed an addiction to some prescription drugs.

"This is a tragedy in every sense of the word," Hutchison said. "But Ms. Vaughn makes no excuse, puts the blame on no one but herself."

Back on June 24, Vaughn called her employer to say she would be coming in late. That morning, she stopped at Rite Aid pharmacies in Lockport, Ransomville and Lewiston, telling employees she needed the drugs to pay a ransom for her kids.

Kloch sentenced Vaughn to six months behind bars, followed by five years of probation and 50 hours of service with the jail work program upon release. It could have been worse, as Vaughn did not complete the court's judicial diversion drug treatment program and could have been sentenced to 14 years in state prison.

Instead, Kloch said he believed Vaughn, especially reading a letter she had written detailing her guilt and the effects addiction has had on her life.

"I believe it was heartfelt, I believe it was serious," the judge said. 

But, some people thrive in a jail setting, Kloch said. He asked Vaughn if that was her, or would she be able to thrive outside of the facility. There weren't many chances left for her at this point, Kloch said.

"Those bridges are gone, this is your last bridge, your last chance," Kloch said.