Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont
APPEAL FROM CLERMONT COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No.
Vincent Faris, Clermont County Prosecuting Attorney, Nicholas
A. Horton, for plaintiff-appellee.
Soumyajit Dutta, for defendant-appellant.
1} Defendant-appellant, Charles R. Crossty, appeals
from his convictions in the Clermont County Court of Common
Pleas for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and
trafficking in heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. For the reasons
set forth below, we affirm appellant's convictions.
2} Following an investigation by the Clermont County
Narcotics Unit ("CCNU") that took place between
January 22 and February 29, 2016, appellant was arrested and
indicted on (1) six counts of trafficking in heroin in
violation of R.C. 2925.03, of which two were felonies of the
second degree, three were felonies of the third degree, and
one was a felony of the fourth degree, (2) three counts of
trafficking in cocaine in violation of R.C. 2925.03, felonies
of the third degree, (3) two counts of aggravated trafficking
in drugs in violation of R.C. 2925.03, felonies of the third
degree, where the substance trafficked was fentanyl, a
schedule II drug, and (4) one count of engaging in a pattern
of corrupt activity in violation of R.C. 2923.32(A)(1), a
felony of the first degree. All of the trafficking counts
specified that that the offenses were committed in the
vicinity of a juvenile, and three of the trafficking counts
contained a specification seeking the forfeiture of $1, 035
in cash that was found on appellant at the time he was
3} A three-day bench trial was held in October 2016.
At trial, the state presented testimony from Officer Nick
DeRose and Lieutenant Douglas Ventre regarding CCNU's
investigation into appellant's distribution of narcotics
in and around New Richmond, Clermont County, Ohio. The state
also presented testimony from James Burress, a confidential
informant who purchased drugs from appellant, and from Brandy
Moore and Rex Perkins, two individuals involved in
appellant's drug-trafficking business.
4} Officer DeRose testified that on January 22,
2016, Burress contacted him to express concern with the flood
of heroin that had entered the New Richmond area. Burress, an
admitted drug addict, informed DeRose that appellant was the
source of the drugs, and Burress agreed to serve as a
confidential informant as he knew appellant and had purchased
drugs from him in the past.
5} Working with DeRose, Burress arranged to purchase
heroin and cocaine from appellant on six different occasions.
Burress testified he called and texted appellant from the
residence he was staying at on Weil Road in New Richmond,
Clermont County, Ohio to set up the controlled buys. During
these conversations, the type of drug, quantity to be
purchased, and amount to be paid were established. Appellant
directed Burress to various locations to complete the
transactions. Two of the controlled buys occurred at
Perkins' apartment, located at 718 Washington Street in
New Richmond, Clermont County, Ohio. The other four
controlled buys occurred on or near Eastern Avenue in
Hamilton County, Ohio.
6} At trial, Perkins testified he had known
appellant for about nine or ten months and appellant dealt
him heroin and crack cocaine. About three or four months
before appellant was arrested in February 2016, appellant
approached Perkins about establishing his apartment as a
"trap house" where drugs would be sold. Perkins
permitted appellant to sell drugs out of his apartment in
exchange for appellant "tak[ing] care" of him by
giving him drugs, picking things up for him from the store,
and caring for the apartment. Perkins allowed his apartment
to be used as a trap house, even though this violated the
terms of a Cooperating Individual Agreement he signed with
CCNU when he became a confidential informant in August 2014.
7} Perkins testified appellant personally sold drugs
out of the apartment "basically all day, every
day." Once the apartment was established as a trap
house, appellant turned the day-to-day dealings over to Moore
and Miguel "Mike" Rivera. According to Perkins,
Moore was at his apartment "every day" to sell
heroin and cocaine.
8} Moore testified she met appellant in November
2015, and she bought drugs from him in New Richmond. Moore
and appellant reached an agreement wherein Moore would sell
appellant's drugs in exchange for appellant giving her
drugs to feed her own addiction. Moore stated she and Rivera
both sold drugs out of Perkins' apartment. For two or
three months, Moore stayed at Perkins' apartment and sold
drugs "all day long, " completing more than 100
drug transactions for appellant. Moore explained she received
a new supply of drugs from appellant every day, usually
around five grams of heroin and cocaine. Although the drugs
were sold for "street prices, " appellant dictated
how much of the drugs were to be sold and for what price.
Once the drugs were sold, Moore would turn the money over to
appellant. Occasionally, Moore would drive appellant
"downtown" to buy more drugs from his supplier. She
would also occasionally bring buyers, such as Burress, to
First Controlled Buy - January 25, 2016 (Count One)
9} On January 25, 2016, while working with CCNU,
Burress arranged to purchase 2 grams of heroin from
appellant. The sale occurred at Perkins' apartment in New
Richmond. Prior to arriving at the apartment, Burress met
with DeRose. Burress was searched, a wire placed on him, and
$365 given to him for the purchase of the heroin.
10} DeRose drove Burress to the apartment and waited
inside his car while Burress went into the apartment to
purchase the drugs. Burress testified he had to settle an old
debt owed to appellant before he could make the purchase.
After giving appellant money to clear up this debt, appellant
sold him the heroin they had agreed to over the phone.
Burress explained appellant personally weighed the drugs and
handed them over to him. Burress left the apartment and
returned to DeRose's car, where he turned over drugs. The
drugs were tested at the Hamilton County Crime Laboratory
("HCCL") and consisted of 1.219 grams of heroin.
Second Controlled Buy - February 1, 2016 (Count Two)
11} On February 1, 2016, Burress arranged a second
buy with appellant for the purchase of 2 grams of heroin for
$280. Appellant told Burress to go to Perkins' apartment
for the exchange.
12} Burress again met with DeRose, where he was
searched, a wire placed on him, and $280 given to him for the
purchase of the heroin. DeRose drove Burress to the apartment
and waited inside his car while Burress went inside to
purchase the drugs. Appellant was not present at Perkins'
apartment for the transaction. Instead, Rivera handed the
drugs over to Burress in exchange for $280. After leaving the
apartment, Burress turned the drugs over to DeRose. The drugs
were subsequently tested at HCCL and consisted of .930 grams
Third Controlled Buy - February 18, 2016 (Count
13} Following the first two buys, DeRose had Burress
arrange to buy a larger amount of heroin from appellant. On
February 18, 2016, Burress contacted appellant by phone from
a residence on Weil Road in New Richmond, and the terms of
the purchase were agreed upon - 5 grams of heroin in exchange
for $850. Appellant told Burress New Richmond was getting
"too hot" and he wanted to conduct the transaction
at a UDF in Hamilton County.
14} Burress met with DeRose, where both Buress and
his car were searched, a wire placed on him, and $850 given
to him for the purchase of the heroin. Burress drove himself
to the UDF, where law enforcement officers were stationed to
monitor the exchange. Once at UDF, Burress received a phone
call from appellant, directing him to a home on Eastern
Avenue in Hamilton County. Burress, followed by law
enforcement, drove to the new location.
15} Once inside the home on Eastern Avenue, Burress
gave appellant the agreed $850 in exchange for the drugs.
Burress explained appellant weighed the drugs before handing
them over. At the time of the exchange, Burress noticed there
was a juvenile boy and two juvenile girls present. Burress
testified the two girls were between 12 and 16 years of age.
16} After completing the transaction, Burress left
the Eastern Avenue residence and met with DeRose to turn over
the drugs he received from appellant. The drugs were tested
at HCCL and were found to be 3.1 grams of heroin.
Fourth Controlled Buy - February 22, 2016 (Count
17} On February 22, 2016, Burress arranged to
purchase 8 grams of crack cocaine from appellant for $750.
Appellant instructed Burress to go to the Eastern Avenue
residence for the exchange.
18} Burress again met with DeRose. Both Buress and
his car were searched, a wire was placed on him, and $750
given to him for the purchase of the cocaine. Burress drove
to the Eastern Avenue residence, entered the home, and
purchased the drugs from appellant. The two female juveniles
who had been present at the February 18, 2016 buy were
present for this exchange. While purchasing the drugs,
appellant told Burress about a problem he was having in New
Richmond with a couple of his dealers. Burress testified
appellant told him that "Mike - Miguel and Brandy had
had a situation where * * * Mike was taking a package to
Brandy and it either didn't get there or got there light
* * * [and appellant] had to go down and straighten it
out." During this transaction, Burress noticed handguns
in the residence, which were laying out in the open.
19} While Burress was inside the Eastern Avenue
residence, he was being monitored by law enforcement.
Lieutenant Ventre monitored the controlled buy from a vehicle
parked near the residence. Ventre observed Burress,
appellant, and a young female, later identified as
14-year-old L.M., enter the residence where the drug
transaction took place. After Burress purchased the drugs and
exited the home, Ventre saw appellant and L.M. leave the
residence together. Ventre also saw a boy in his
"mid-teens" standing at the front door of the
Eastern Avenue residence.
20} After leaving the Eastern Avenue residence,
Burress met with DeRose to turn over the drugs he had
purchased from appellant. The drugs were tested at HCCL and
found to consist of 5.034 grams of cocaine.
Fifth Controlled Buy - February 24, 2016 (Count
21} On February 24, 2016, DeRose had Burress contact
appellant to see about purchasing 6 grams of heroin and a
firearm. Appellant offered to sell the drugs and firearm in
exchange for $1, 350. Burress was directed to the Eastern
Avenue residence to make the exchange.
22} Burress met with DeRose. Both Buress and his car
were searched; Burress was fitted with a wire, and given $1,
350 for the purchase of the gun and heroin. Burress drove to
the Eastern Avenue residence and purchased the drugs from
appellant. Appellant did not sell Burress a gun at this time.
Appellant told Burress he would give him a gun later, as he
"did not like to carry guns and dope at the same
time." Burress testified three juveniles, who were
between the ages of 14 and 16, were present at the time he
purchased the drugs.
23} Ventre and other law enforcement officers
monitored Burress' purchase. Ventre observed appellant,
Burress, and two other adults enter the Eastern Avenue
residence. While the adults were inside, Ventre saw a young
child, somewhere between six and eight years of age, get out
of the vehicle appellant had been traveling in and enter the
24} After making his purchase and leaving the
Eastern Avenue residence, Burress met with DeRose. Burress
turned over the drugs, which were subsequently tested ...