Friday, September 24, 1999

Ex-guard to become a prisoner

He admits drug shuttling at Lebanon

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A former prison guard accused of smuggling drugs into Lebanon Correctional Institution (LCI) was sent to prison for eight months Thursday.

        Defense lawyers had been prepared to ask a judge to throw out crucial evidence in the upcoming trial. But James Earl Smith, 35, of Dayton, Ohio, pleaded guilty to illegal conveyance of drugs onto the grounds of a detention facility.

        “The evidence was overwhelming,” said Joanne Hash, a Warren County assistant prosecutor.

        Judge Neal Bronson of common pleas court sentenced Mr. Smith immediately but allowed him to remain free on bond until Oct. 14 so he can appear in court in Butler County to face additional charges stemming from the Jan. 21 arrest.

        Mr. Smith was reindicted in that county last month on charges of permitting drug abuse, falsification and prepa ration of marijuana for sale.

        Butler County authorities dropped those charges in June when Mr. Smith pleaded guilty to the felony in Warren County. However, they sought the second indictment after Mr. Smith withdrew the plea and fired his lawyer.

        The charges stem from a police sting in a restaurant parking lot in Butler County, where, authorities said, they watched an informant give Mr. Smith a $250 delivery fee and 4 ounces of marijuana, which he then took to LCI.

        They alleged Mr. Smith charged a fee for delivering drugs to LCI inmates, who are thought to have bartered or sold them to other prisoners.

        At the time of his arrest, Mr. Smith was in possession of the money and marijuana, police said.

        He also had four state ID cards, all in different names and bearing his photo, apparently to conceal a prior felony conviction in Idaho for forgery, investigators said.


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