PAOLI, Ind. (WHAS11) – Holding her daughter close and feeling positive, Lisa Livingston walked into a small Paoli courtroom knowing her future would soon be decided by a judge.
At least 60 people crowded into the courtroom, many having to stand, in order to support the recovering addict – turned businesswoman – turned treatment center executive.
After a hearing that lasted three hours, an Orange County judge decided to sentence Livingston to serve 30 years in an Indiana State Prison.
“I guess I'll just try to grow up a little bit and try to go on without my mom,” her daughter, Lacey, told WHAS11 News moments after hearing her mother’s sentence.
Livingston pleaded guilty to drug charges she committed five years ago. It was a crime that led her to open The Breakaway in New Albany.
WHAS11 News reported Livingston’s story last fall when she opened New Albany’s only halfway house for women. The mission is to help those in recovery break away from their addictions.
“We're keeping this place open for Lisa. She started it, it's her dream, it's her mission, it's her vision. It's not going anywhere,” said Janis Barnett who is a Programming Director at The Breakaway.
When Livingston first told us about her sentencing date, and talked to WHAS11 News in November, knowing jail was very possible.
“As much as I would like to control that and do my service work on the outside, there may be somebody on the inside that needs my help so I have to stay focused and know that God has a bigger plan,” she explained.
After learning of Livingston’s 30-year sentence in Paoli, Alesha Doan, just one of eleven women at The Breakaway said it's a loss for them.
“She's been there since day one, with me being sober and everything, and she's just pretty much changed my life all the way around,” Doan explained.
Orange County Judge Steve Owens did not believe Lisa's new, clean and sober life was enough to justify her criminal history and keep her out of prison.
“I was hoping for the best but I was prepared for the worst,” her daughter said.
Judge Owens said because Lisa's charges five years ago included the dealing and possession of drugs and the ingredients to make them, he believed her crimes were too serious for home-incarceration.
“She is not that person anymore, that's her past. Our past does not dictate our future,” said Barnett.
Met with hugs and tears, Livingston had a message for those there to support her, telling them to stay strong and learn from her mistakes, while a board of directors will keep The Breakaway open.
Judge Owens said in court that Lisa's trial had been postponed 10 times and said she should've ‘spent more time resolving the case, not working on building a model resume.’ Lisa's sister told WHAS 11 News they are considering an appeal.