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State v. Maurer

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Muskingum

June 13, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
RICHARD T. MAURER Defendant-Appellant

          Appeal from the Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas, case no. CR2018-0068

          For Plaintiff-Appellee: D. MICHAEL HADDOX MUSKINGUM CO. PROSECUTOR GERALD V. ANDERSON

          For Defendant-Appellant: JAMES A. ANZELMO

          JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.

          OPINION

          DELANEY, J.

         {¶1} Appellant Richard T. Maurer appeals from the May 24, 2018 Entry of the Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas. Appellee is the state of Ohio.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         {¶2} The following facts are adduced from appellee's statement of facts at the change-of-plea hearing on April 16, 2018.

         {¶3} This case involves a criminal enterprise in which appellant and associates received large shipments of Tramadol from India, broke the pills down into smaller quantities in Muskingum County, Ohio, and mailed them to "customers" around the U.S.[1]

         {¶4} In October 2016, 2500 doses of Tramadol were intercepted in the mail, destined for an address shared by appellant and a co-defendant. On November 18, 2016, postal employees assisted the co-defendant with the mailing of an unsealed envelope and multiple packs of Tramadol fell out of the envelope. On December 5, 2016, another parcel destined for appellant's P.O. Box was found to contain 2500 Tramadol pills.

         {¶5} A search warrant was executed at appellant's residence on December 7, 2016, and the co-defendant was found inside the residence with a young child. Law enforcement found shipping lists of names and addresses for pills to be sent to after processing at the residence. Tramadol pills were found throughout the house, kitchen, and dining room. The co-defendant's phone contained information regarding "customers'" names, addresses, and "orders" for pills. The co-defendant admitted to the existence of a criminal enterprise for the distribution of the pills with appellant and others. She was paid a salary by the criminal enterprise to assist in processing orders for the pills.

         {¶6} Future shipments were diverted by law enforcement. Appellee calculated a total of 59, 000 Tramadol pills were intercepted.

         {¶7} Appellant was previously convicted of drug possession (methamphetamine) in 2012.

         {¶8} Appellant was cooperative with law enforcement throughout this investigation. At sentencing he argued that he believed himself to be involved in "a legitimate online prescription thing" because Tramadol is not generally a drug of abuse and was only recently added to the list of controlled substances. Thus, appellant and his co-defendant took no steps to be secretive, to hide their home address or other details of the mailing operation, and readily shared information with law enforcement.

         {¶9} Appellant was charged by indictment with one count of trafficking in drugs pursuant to R.C. 2925.03(A)(1), a felony of the second degree [Count I]; one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity pursuant to R.C. 2923.32(A)(1), a felony of the first degree [Count II]; and one count of having a weapon while under disability pursuant to R.C. 2923.13(A)(3), a felony of the third degree [Count III]. Count I included a forfeiture specification pursuant to R.C. 2941.1417.

         {¶10} On April 16, 2018, appellant withdrew his previously-entered pleas of not guilty and entered pleas of guilty as charged. The trial court thereupon found him guilty and deferred sentencing pending preparation of a pre-sentence investigation.

         {¶11} Appellant appeared before the trial court for sentencing on May 23, 2018. The trial court noted appellant had a prior felony conviction, plus pending charges in Perry County including, e.g., heroin and marijuana trafficking. The trial court imposed sentence as follows: a stated prison term of 7 years upon Count I, a mandatory prison term of 8 years upon Count II, and a stated prison term of 2 years upon Count III. The trial court ordered that the terms are to be served concurrently for a total aggregate prison term of 8 years. The trial court further noted appellant is ordered to serve a mandatory 5-year term of post-release control, and ordered forfeiture of $5300 in cash and a firearm.

         {¶12} Appellant now appeals from the journal entries of his convictions and sentence.

         {¶13} Appellant raises three ...


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