DAYTON – The government unsealed an indictment Friday in which a federal grand jury has charged seven defendants, including a corrections officer, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Col. Paul A. Pride, Superintendent, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Gary Mohr, Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and members of the Warren County Drug Task Force announced the indictment returned last week.
The Wilmington Police Department has a full-time detective assigned to the Warren County Task Force. As part of the investigation, undercover operations were conducted within Wilmington, according to WPD Chief Detective Josh Riley.
“His efforts were a major part of this investigation leading to Dayton,” said Riley.
The indictment charges James Barlage, Jr., 31, of Chillicothe, Mario Evans, 40, formerly of Dayton, Edward E. Bellman, 45, formerly of Miamisburg, Moses M. Stevens, 53, formerly of Xenia, Jon Christopher Birt, 50, of Dayton, Jamie L. Naegele, 47, of Brookville and Anthony Scott Blankenship, 32, of Columbus, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Barlage and Blankenship are also charged with one count each of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
The indictment alleges that Barlage was employed as a corrections officer at Chillicothe Correctional Institute (CCI) in June and July 2017. At the same time, Evans, Bellman and Stevens were inmates at the prison.
According to the indictment, it was the object of the conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine to CCI for distribution within the prison.
Birt, an alleged methamphetamine distributor for the Dayton area, would obtain the drugs from his suppliers and he and Naegele would arrange for the delivery of the methamphetamine to the prison.
On at least one occasion, Barlage received the drugs from Birt for the purpose of redistributing within CCI.
“The defendants allegedly used at least one unauthorized cell phone within the prison to coordinate payment for the drugs and exchange of the drugs for transportation to CCI,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “They also allegedly used Western Union to transfer funds for the drugs.”
The indictment was returned September 28. Birt, Barlage, and Naegle have been arrested and have made their initial appearances. Arrest warrants have been issued for the remaining defendants.
Conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine are each crimes punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Warren County Drug Task Force, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Dominick S. Gerace and Amy M. Smith, who are prosecuting the case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.