Husband released to donate kidney returns to prison

A Groton man released from prison so he could donate a kidney for his wife is back in prison, having been charged and convicted of a new crime.

James C. Ross, 33, had pleaded guilty in December 2016 to possession of heroin with intent to sell. According to his court file, New London Superior Court Judge Hillary B. Strackbein allowed him to post bond and be electronically monitored and supervised in the community so that he could take care of his personal business while awaiting sentencing.

On Sept. 4, Waterford Police arrested Ross while investigating a couple suspected of stealing clothing from the Crystal Mall to trade for drugs or drug money, according to court documents. The police followed the couple to the Mobil Mart gas station at 806 Hartford Road and said Ross pulled up with his daughter and said he was going to buy school clothes for her from the couple. The couple were in possession of $400 worth of clothing stolen from the J.C. Penney store, according to police, along with a small crow bar that could be used to remove sensors from stolen items. Ross told them he has been working hard, but doesn't have much money and needed to buy her school clothes.

While questioning Ross, the police said they noticed a "small rock-like object" protruding from the small right pocket of Ross' jeans.

As he begged them, "Come on man, please don't do this," the police said they searched Ross and found four baggies of crack cocaine. Ross made arrangements to have the girl's mother pick her up and was placed under arrest and returned to prison.

He pleaded guilty Wednesday to possession of crack cocaine and was sentenced to a year in prison, to run concurrent with a one-year sentence in the heroin case.

"We kept you out and thought you were going to be a donor," Judge Strackbein told him. "Do you think you're going to be a donor if you're crack addicted? The answer is no."

"I did mess up," Ross said. "I still want to thank you and the prosecutor for giving me the opportunity you did."

Prosecutor David J. Smith had handled the case before he was promoted to supervisor of the Geographical Area 10 courthouse, according to court documents.

Ross' attorney, M. Fred DeCaprio, said Ross is "very, very devoted" to his wife.

"I know this kidney issue has gone back and forth, but he's gotten very close," DeCaprio said.

In cases where a loved one is willing to donate a kidney but is not compatible, they can improve the patient's chances of getting a kidney faster by participating in a donor exchange program.



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