A little more than a year ago, John Thomas was down. He was constantly getting into trouble with the law and there did not seem to be much to look forward to in the immediate future. He knocked around from job to job, picking up construction work when he could, but he had nothing in his life, other than his wife and children.

Then it all changed – in the most unexpected way. Thomas was arrested one night. He was charged, tried and sentenced to more than a year for DUI/DWI. He began serving his time at the Charles County Correctional Facility in La Plata, MD. It looked as if he could not get any lower in life.

After working internally at the Corrections office he was noticed. You see, Thomas hates to just stand around and not have anything to do. So he worked hard. After a while, he was noticed by Sheriff’s Deputies and Corrections Officers with whom he came into contact each day. One asked him if he wanted to work in the Sheriff’s maintenance facility.

Without hesitating, Thomas said yes. He had no idea at the time what was in store. “At first, I washed cars and cleaned up,” said Thomas. “Then I started helping out wherever I could.”

After a few months, it was apparent to Sheriff’s maintenance staff, that Thomas was a good man and a great addition to their efforts. According to Cpl. Dave Fromme, Thomas’ boss, “We discovered that we couldn’t do without him on days he wasn’t here.”

When Rex Coffey was successful in his election bid and became Sheriff of Charles County and took office on Dec. 7, 2007 he began to hear things about the indispensible inmate working in maintenance.

“I would go over and take a look at JT (the nickname Thomas was given by fellow maintenance workers). He was always working and into everything,” said Coffey in an exclusive interview with The Bay Net. Sheriff Coffey indicated that without fail the reports were the same each month. ‘Thomas was a good man.’

Thomas began to feel better about his life. He wrote a letter to his trial judge – Judge Cooper – and let him know what he had been doing and about his work with the Sheriff Department. Sure enough, the judge concurred with Sheriff Coffey and ended Thomas’ sentence.

When he was released, Coffey and Fromme immediately hired Thomas. That was March 24, 2008. Thomas is now considered an exemplary employee and has the title of Fleet Technician and works directly with third party vendors to ensure that the Sheriff’s Cruisers are ready to roll in all conditions, in any weather and when they are needed by deputies.

When asked to sum up his experience, Thomas became quiet for a moment and then replied, “I never thought I would get a chance like this. It was God sent.”

Thomas indicated that he thought both Fromme and Coffey are great law enforcement officers and that, even though some of his friends have questioned how he can go work for those that put him jail, he has never been happier with his life. “My wife, Charleen, son, John, Jr., and daughters, La Keisha and La Shaundra are all proud of me, that I can tell you.”

There are more than a few Charles County Sheriff Deputies that would agree. After all, Thomas is responsible for the safety and maintenance on their cruisers.