Pot’s payload includes prison


WILMINGTON — A man linked with a shipment of almost 130 pounds of marijuana from California to Wilmington was sentenced to prison for nine months.

Sean Brian Lewie, 27, of California with family connections in Columbus, Ohio, was one of two men charged following the November 2015 shipment. His co-defendant, Ryan J. Ward, 27, of Columbus, has pled guilty to the same crime as Lewie — attempted trafficking in marijuana. Ward’s sentencing hearing is scheduled here for mid-January.

Homeland Security contacted the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office in fall 2015, advising of a suspicious package coming from Oakland, California and en route to the R&L Carriers transportation facility near Wilmington, according to an affidavit by Clinton County Sgt. Det. Doug Eastes. The crate then was to be shipped to an address in Bainbridge, Ohio.

A couple days later, a drug detection dog alerted on the suspicious crate, and a search of the crate’s contents yielded 131 individually wrapped bags of marijuana, stated the affidavit.

Law enforcement personnel repackaged the contents into the crate, and Lewie and Ward arrived at R&L Carriers to pick it up, according to the affidavit.

The two men removed the box containing marijuana from the crate and loaded it into a pickup truck and left. A traffic stop was conducted, and Ward admitted he knew the crate held marijuana whereas Lewie declined to give a statement to officers, the affidavit stated.

The wrapped bags of marijuana bore individual markings on the bags indicating the strain of marijuana inside, stated Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck in his written judgment entry.

“The contraband was clearly intended for resale,” the judge wrote. “It appears to have been a sophisticated operation.”

Rudduck added that Lewie had been “less than truthful to local authorities on multiple occasions.”

Prosecution recommended community control sanctions for Lewie, including a local jail term of at least 60 days. However, Rudduck ordered a nine-month term of state prison for the defendant, referring in his sentencing document to the harm caused to the community by drug trafficking.

Because a motor vehicle was used in the transport of the illegal drug, Lewie’s operator license and his privilege to drive in Ohio was suspended for 12 months.

Lewie agreed to forfeit to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office $644 seized from him. The sheriff is directed to use the funds as proceeds from illegal drug trafficking.

At other recent sentencing hearings in Clinton County Common Pleas Court:

• David M. Varney, 38, of Sabina, who was found guilty of illegal conveyance of a weapon on the grounds of a detention facility, was given a six-month jail term (with time credit for 113 days served and the balance suspended), and was put on community controls for two years. The contraband was forfeited.

• Nathan E. Fowler, 20, of Martinsville, who was found guilty of failing to comply with an order or a signal of a police officer, was placed under community control sanctions for two years, received a six-month suspended jail term (with time credit for 85 days served), and will participate in STAR Community Justice Center residential programming.

He also received a class 2 driver’s license suspension for three years.

• Richard Joseph Smith, 26, of Wilmington, who was found guilty of receiving stolen property and of petty theft, was placed under community control sanctions for two years, sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term (with time credit for 41 days served), and will take part in STAR Community Justice Center residential programming.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.


Judge: 130 lbs. of marijuana ‘clearly intended for resale’

By Gary Huffenberger

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