Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Allison S. Breneman
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor Adam M. Chaloupka Amy Venesile Assistant
County Prosecutors Justice Center,
BEFORE: Kilbane, P.J., S. Gallagher, J., and Blackmon, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
EILEEN KILBANE, PRESIDING JUDGE:
Defendant-appellant, Dontez D. Johnson ("Johnson"),
appeals from his conviction and sentence for drug
trafficking, drug possession, and possessing criminal tools.
For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
In July 2016, Johnson was charged in an 18-count indictment
related to two controlled buys of heroin and crack cocaine
conducted by Cleveland police in June 2016. Johnson was
indicted with eleven counts of trafficking, six counts of
drug possession, and one count of possessing criminal tools.
In February 2017, this matter proceeded to a jury trial. The
following evidence was adduced at trial. The first buy
occurred on June 13, 2016. Cleveland Police Detective Thomas
Klamert ("Detective Klamert") testified that he and
his colleagues from the Cleveland Police Department narcotics
unit met with a confidential reliable informant
("CRI") as part of his investigation of Johnson.
Detective Klamert explained that his investigation began with
the purpose of targeting a heroin dealer known as
"Juice" and "D-Red, " who he later
determined to be Johnson.
Cleveland Police Detective Scott Moran ("Detective
Moran") explained that a confidential reliable informant
is an individual who has previously worked with and provided
reliable information to the detectives in the past. At
Detective Klamert's direction, the CRI called Johnson to
arrange to meet him. Detective Klamert drove the informant to
the area of West 105th Street and Governor Avenue to meet
Johnson and then gave the informant $80 of "buy money
after carefully searching the informant for drugs or other
Cleveland Police Detectives John Dlugolinski ("Detective
Dlugolinski") and Moran maintained surveillance on the
CRI during the buy. The CRI entered a white Ford Taurus for a
short period of time then exited the vehicle. Detective
Klamert testified that he again searched the CRI after the
buy was conducted. Detective Klamert retrieved heroin and
crack cocaine from the CRI and further testified that the CRI
no longer had the buy money on him. Detectives Dlugolinski
and Moran followed the Ford Taurus and observed that Johnson
was a passenger in the vehicle. The detectives terminated the
surveillance and relayed this information to Detective
Klamert to assist in his investigation.
A few days later, on June 15, 2016, Detective Klamert met
with a different CRI with the plan of conducting a
"buy-bust" operation to apprehend Johnson. The
second CRI made a controlled phone call to Johnson to set up
the drug deal. Detective Klamert then took the second CRI to
the area of West 43rd Street and Robert Avenue where Johnson
had told the CRI to meet him. Detective Klamert carefully
searched the second CRI and then gave him $100 in photocopied
Detective Dlugolinski had set up surveillance outside of the
house where Johnson told the CRI to meet him. Detective
Dlugolinski testified that Johnson met the CRI on the porch,
then Johnson and the CRI went inside the house together. He
explained that a short time later, the CRI left the house and
returned to Detective Klamert's undercover vehicle.
Detective Klamert testified that CRI handed over heroin to
him. He further testified that he searched the CRI, confirmed
that the CRI no longer had the buy money, and advised his
colleagues that the buy "was a good purchase."
Detective Dlugolinski testified that approximately ten
minutes later, Johnson, another man, and a woman got into a
vehicle and drove away.
Cleveland police followed the vehicle. Police stopped the
vehicle. The officers ordered the occupants out of the
vehicle. Detective Moran testified that as he approached the
vehicle, he observed Johnson, who was sitting in the front
passenger seat, reach behind his seat and place something in
between the door and the rear passenger seat.
Johnson was subsequently arrested then searched. Johnson had
$236 cash on him, $100 of which included the photocopied buy
money. Johnson also had mannitol and wax paper bags on him at
the time of his arrest. Detective Moran testified that, from
his experience and training as a narcotics officer, mannitol,
a baby laxative, is commonly used by dealers as an additive
to cut heroin. He further testified that, from his
experience, the wax bags found on Johnson are commonly used
to package heroin.
Detective Moran searched the vehicle and found plastic bags
containing heroin and crack cocaine behind the passenger seat
and three cell phones on the floor of the front passenger
seat. At police headquarters, Detective Klamert called the
number that he had both CRIs call to arrange the drug buys
with Johnson. That number rang one of the cell phones
recovered from the vehicle.
At the conclusion of the state's evidence, the defense
moved under Crim.R. 29 for acquittal on each count of
trafficking and drug possession. The trial court denied this
The jury found Johnson guilty of nine counts of trafficking,
four counts of drug possession, and one count of possessing
criminal tools. After the jury announced its verdict, the
trial court proceeded directly to sentence Johnson. The court
imposed an eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence. It is from
this order that Johnson now appeals, raising the following
four assignments of error for our review:
of Error One
jury found, against the manifest weight of the evidence, that
[Johnson] committed the acts charged in the indictment.
of Error Two
evidence was not legally sufficient to sustain a guilty
of Error Three
trial court allowed impermissible testimony in which was not
proper under [Ohio Evid.R. 404(B)].