GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County man was sentenced to almost one year in prison after he was convicted on a drug charge.
Robert Saunders was sentenced to prison for 11 months in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for possessing 0.141 grams of heroin.
The arrest resulted from a traffic stop in May 2014 by the Ohio State Highway Patrol on State Route 160 in Gallia County. A carrier was located inside the glove box of the vehicle containing loaded syringes, marijuana, a spoon with burnt residue and empty suboxone wrappers. The liquid inside the syringes was sent for testing by the Ohio State Highway Patrol laboratory which confirmed the liquid as heroin.
“Under Ohio law, prison was not available as a sentence for the defendant’s initial crime of possession of heroin in the amount 0.141 grams,” Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins said. “The only available sanction was placing the defendant on community control, which we did in April 2015”
Adkins added that Saunders violated the terms of his community control after only five months by “associating with felons, failing to report to his probation officer and for drug-testing positive for cocaine.”
A hearing was conducted in Gallia County Common Pleas Court, where the court found that Saunders’ community control should be revoked. He was then sentenced to immediately begin serving 11 months in prison.
“This case illustrates the current state of criminal law in Ohio when it comes to fourth and fifth degree felonies,” Adkins said. “Back in April 2015, prison time was not a legal option for us as Ohio law requires that defendants be given one more opportunity. Once the defendant tested positive for cocaine, we then pursued the violations and requested the maximum prison sentence for a felony of the fifth degree. Those who use and bring heroin into Gallia County will continue to be prosecuted to the fullest extent because our neighborhoods deserve to be free from these illegal drugs.”
In a separate case, four people were recently convicted for a “coordinated assault” that happened in 2011.
Scott Snyder, Andrew Taylor, Brittany New and Joseph Jones were each convicted of assaulting a person, who will remain unnamed to protect their identity, on Dec. 27, 2011.
According to Adkins, the victim and a female friend (New) traveled to a residence of one of the defendants for dinner when the assault began.
“Upon arrival at the back door of the residence, the victim was robbed, attacked, severely beaten and kicked in the face by three male individuals with masks covering their faces,” he said. “The female was unharmed and fled the scene. The victim used a knife he had in his pocket to fend off the assault by stabbing two of the assailants.”
The victim was transported to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.
The Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation were asked to conduct the investigation into this matter. After extensive interviews with multiple witnesses, it was determined that the assault and robbery were planned by four individuals. The plan, according to Adkins, was to have three males (Snyder, Jones and Taylor) attack the victim as he and the female (New) approached the back door of the residence.
All four individuals were indicted by the Gallia County Grand Jury in April 2015. Each individual was prosecuted separately throughout the course of the year. All of the cases recently concluded in Gallia County Common Pleas Court.
Taylor pleaded guilty to felonious assault and received the most time — four years in Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction — while Snyder pleaded guilty to complicity to felonious assault and received 12 months in prison.
New pleaded guilty to attempted felonious assault and received two years of adult probation, and Jones pleaded guilty to attempted felonious assault and received three years of adult probation.
“This case was initially very difficult to piece together as to who was involved and who coordinated this set-up,” Adkins said. “However, we knew that the victim sustained serious physical injuries to his face and body as a result of the attack. We pulled together the resources necessary to finally get to the bottom of who committed the assault and who was involved in the planning. The work of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and BCI led to the four successful prosecutions and hopefully to the start of a new day for the victim.”
Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.