Monday, September 22, 2003

Drive-thru justice

Quick, easy, painless for perps

People who live near Vine Street Elementary call nearby Loth Street a drive-thru for drugs.

Neighbors last year succeeded in getting several buildings - havens for drugs and prostitution - torn down. But the dealers still sell on the street.

They're not subtle, said Penny Carnes, a longtime resident. "They're making people afraid to come out of their homes."

Two plainclothes officers on Sept. 16 photographed drug sales and moved in to make arrests. Ryan Lillard, 22, of Clifton, was accused of selling marijuana to several people.

Police said he repeatedly reached into a blue backpack. Inside the pack and nearby were 836.7 grams of marijuana, police said.

Just 3 to 4 grams retails for $10, said Don Meece, one of the officers.

The next day, a sheriff's deputy gave Municipal Court Judge Guy Guckenberger an update on the number of inmates at the Hamilton County Justice Center: 2,183 detainees for a jail that holds 1,950.

That's why, when Guckenberger saw a police request for a high bond for Lillard, he set it at $10,000.

"Ten thousand dollars is a high (bond)," Guckenberger said later. "I have to be mindful of that jail situation so that if we get somebody who's very terrible, we have room for them."

Police grumbled that the bond wasn't high enough. Lillard, who has a prior drug and weapons conviction and had been charged but not convicted of other offenses, was carrying $1,500 - more than the $1,000, or 10 percent of the bond, he needed to bail himself out, Meece said.

Luckily, a stopgap kicked in. The court held Lillard for violating probation. His next chance to seek bail will be Friday. A look at court records shows Lillard has served little jail time for several offenses.

In May 1999, at age 18, Lillard threatened to kill a woman and threw a metal chair through her front window. He pleaded no contest to damage and menacing charges and was put on probation, with orders to attend rehabilitation and parenting classes.

The next two years he was fined several times for possessing marijuana and alcohol.

In January 2002, police arrested him in a traffic stop and found 534 grams of marijuana, a gun, and $4,220 in cash. Lillard pleaded guilty to trafficking and to having a weapon while under disability.

His attorney successfully got a concealed weapon tossed because the Ohio Supreme Court had found the law unconstitutional.

Lillard served 90 days in jail and received three years probation, with drug testing. He also faced a child support hearing.

Police arrested Lillard again August 30, 2002, for jaywalking. Officers took his keys and found 498.4 grams of marijuana, a handgun, and $4,400 in cash in his car.

But charges were dropped; a judge said Lillard had been illegally detained and his car searched.

Lillard's current drug charges are set to go before a grand jury later this month.

Carnes said neighbors are watching this case because they're trying to clean up the block.

"What the judges need to do when they get punks in there is put their behinds in jail and not let them out," Carnes said.

That's tough to do when there are more perps than jail cots.


E-mail or phone 768-8395

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