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Concord man returns to prison six months after violent domestic dispute

  • Joshua Gebo, exits the room after his plea and sentencing hearing Wednesday at Merrimack County Superior Court. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Joshua Gebo leaves after his plea and sentencing hearing on October 24, 2018 at Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Joshua Gebo leaves after his plea and sentencing hearing on October 24, 2018 at Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/24/2018 4:18:07 PM

A Concord man with an extensive criminal and substance abuse history was kicked out of drug court Wednesday and sent back to prison for violating the terms of his probation, in part, because of his latest arrest in April for domestic violence.

Joshua Gebo, 30, was sentenced to 3½ to seven years in state prison for violating his probation in a drug possession and distribution case that resolved in late 2017 when he was accepted into the Merrimack County Drug Court and, therefore, given suspended time with the understanding he complete the program. But in the few months that Gebo was a drug court participant, he failed to follow through with required treatment, continued to test positive for drugs and, in April, was arrested again following a violent dispute with an intimate partner whose 11-month-old child was nearby.

Concord police responded to the Morning Star condominiums at 173 Loudon Road that evening for a report of a domestic dispute. The victim told police she had tried to leave her residence to meet her mother when Gebo became upset, temporarily restrained her inside a bedroom and threatened to burn the place down, according to court documents. He lit a pair of boxers on fire, placed them on the carpet in front of him and said, “we’re all going up,” according to a police affidavit.

Assistant Merrimack County Attorney Kathleen Broderick said during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing that the victim later described the look on Gebo’s face as “hypnotized or creepy.”

Gebo was wanted in April on a warrant issued by the court for failure to appear and for absconding from drug court. He was ultimately taken into custody on the warrant as well as multiple felony charges, including criminal restraint, reckless conduct and domestic violence criminal threatening – all three of which he pleaded guilty to Wednesday as part of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors. In exchange for his plea, other felony charges to include arson were dismissed.

He received a consecutive three- to six-year state prison sentence, all suspended, in the domestic violence case.

“I’m sorry for how my conduct hurt your life, both emotionally and physically,” Gebo told his victim, who chose not to attend the hearing. “I apologize for traumatizing you and for scaring you in the way I did.”

Gebo also acknowledged in his prepared remarks to the court that he had not been completely honest with the drug court team but said the experience taught him a lot and that he is not giving up on his long-term recovery.

Defense attorney Emma Sisti said Gebo was given the opportunity one year ago to better himself but he was not yet of the mindset to receive it.

“I don’t think he was ready to acknowledge the problems that would befall him when he came out,” she said, noting that he’d been incarcerated for a significant period of time and wasn’t ready to accept help.

Since Gebo’s latest arrest in April, he has made a conscious decision to take full advantage of the county jail’s drug treatment and counseling offerings and to stay clean, even when drugs were accessible to him behind bars, Sisti said. She noted that drug court didn’t fail him; rather, it opened his eyes and made him rethink his life decisions.

Sisti had recommended a two- to seven-year sentence for Gebo with court-ordered work release when the state’s Department of Corrections deems him eligible to make that transition from full-time confinement to daytime employment. Conversely, Broderick asked the court to impose a four- to seven-year sentence and take up the request for work release at a later date.

Broderick went into extensive detail about Gebo’s criminal history, which includes convictions for first- and second-degree assault, simple assault, theft, forgery, disobeying an officer, shoplifting and drug possession. She said he had a significant amount of prison time hanging over his head this April and yet that did not deter him from placing loved ones at risk of serious injury.

After considering the arguments from both sides, Judge John Kissinger Jr. took the middle ground, handing down a term of imprisonment more in line with the state’s request while also recommending work release for Gebo at Sisti’s request.

“Even though he’s not going to continue in drug court, the fact that he can continue to draw upon those experiences, I think, is a good thing,” Kissinger said, noting Gebo’s addiction struggle was evident to him early on.

While crediting Gebo for his recent work in jail to achieve recovery, Kissinger also said he could not ignore the violent acts of domestic violence.

“That day was also the product of dangerous decisions made by Mr. Gebo,” he said.

Gebo began serving his sentence Wednesday and will receive credit for more than 200 days already served while awaiting the resolution of his case.

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