Franklin Bell admits he was driving drunk in June and was willing to be punished but begged a Hamilton County judge Thursday to sentence him to a rehab program other than the River City Correctional Center in Camp Washington.
Bell, 39, of Colerain Township, had a very specific reason why he wanted to avoid River City - that program requires participants to shave their heads. Bell wanted to keep his beard and the unkempt blond hair that falls below his shoulders.
"I want to maintain my identity," Bell told Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman.
Bell was arrested June 28 in the 1100 block of Hopple Street. Police say they found a small bag of cocaine in his silver 2001 Dodge Ram truck and Bell's blood-alcohol content measured .112 percent, above Ohio's legal limit of .08 percent. Police suspected Bell was drunk because when they tried to pull him over, police records note, he drove over a sidewalk before parking. Bell plead guilty Nov. 2 to the drunk-driving charge in exchange for the drug charge being dismissed.
Ruehlman noted Bell has a severe drinking problem - this was Bell's third drunk-driving conviction in the last six years - and said he was going to send him to River City, a locked-down program lasting four to six months.
The judge refused, placing Bell on two years of probation, sending him to River City, suspending his driver's license for three years and telling him if he violated probation, he would go to prison for 1½ years.