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State v. Prater

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Adams

June 24, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
JEANNIE PRATER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Matthew F. Loesch, Portsmouth, Ohio, for Appellant.

          David Kelley, Adams County Prosecutor, and Kris D. Blanton, Assistant Adams County Prosecuting Attorney, West Union, Ohio, for Appellee.


          Jason P. Smith, Presiding Judge

         {¶1} Jeannie Prater appeals the judgment entry of the Adams County Common Pleas Court, entered July 18, 2018. Prater was convicted upon entering pleas to one count of aggravated trafficking in drugs, methamphetamine, in the vicinity of a juvenile and one count of aggravated trafficking in drugs, methamphetamine. On appeal, Prater challenges her aggregate sentence of 54 months as an abuse of the trial court's discretion. Upon review, the record clearly demonstrates that the trial court properly considered all sentencing statutes and Prater's sentence is within the statutory range. Thus, we find no merit to Prater's argument. Accordingly, we overrule Prater's sole assignment of error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


         {¶2} On January 16, 2018, Jeannie Prater (hereinafter "Appellant") was indicted by the Adams County Grand Jury on two counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, violations of R.C. 2925.03(A)(1), and felonies of the third degree. The allegations were as follows:

Count One: On or about December 6 and December 8, 2017, in Adams County Ohio, Appellant did knowingly sell or offer to sell Methamphetamine, a schedule II controlled substance, in an amount less than bulk.
SPECIFICATION: The Grand Jurors further find and specify that the offense was committed in the vicinity of a juvenile.
Count Two: On or about between December 13 and December 15, 2017, in Adams County, Ohio, [Appellant], did knowingly sell or offer to sell Methamphetamine, a schedule II controlled substance, in an amount that equals or exceeds the bulk amount, but is less than five times the bulk amount.

         {¶3} On January 19, 2018, Appellant pled not guilty to both counts and the court set a cash bond. The parties engaged in discovery. Appellant filed a motion to reduce bond which the trial court initially denied. On May 9, 2018, however, the trial court modified the bond to a recognizance bond.

         {¶4} On June 6, 2018, Appellant entered guilty pleas on both counts. The trial court ordered a pre-sentence investigation and the case was set for sentencing at a later date. At the plea hearing, the trial court asked Appellant to describe the events which occurred in both counts. As to Count One, Appellant stated:

"I um, met the father of my daughter at Walmart parking lot. *** Um, Brent Fischer.***And prior to that he had called me and asked me to go to his friend's house and pick some Meth up for him and bring it to him, so I did and sold it to him.***My daughter was with me.*** She was eight at the time."[1]
As to Count Two, Appellant explained:
"Brent called me and asked me if I could get him an eight-ball um, of Meth and I got it from the same place and I took it to him. ***At his residence in Manchester…***3.8 grams.***I just sold it and left.***I made $50.00 off of it.

         {¶5} The record indicates that Detective Sam Purdin met with a confidential informant who reported on both occasions that Appellant offered to sell him Methamphetamine. According to Appellant, she was "set up" by Brent Fischer. At the plea hearing, the trial court engaged in a lengthy colloquy with Appellant regarding the circumstances underlying the indictment and the circumstances underlying a new misdemeanor Appellant had allegedly committed while awaiting disposition of the indictment.

         {¶6} By July 9, 2018, the Adams County Probation Department had notified the court that Appellant had violated the terms and the conditions of her bond as related to a pill count. The trial court reverted her previously modified recognizance bond to a cash or surety bond and Appellant was placed into the custody of the Adams County Sheriff Department.

         {¶7} At Appellant's sentencing on July 18th, the parties discussed the bond violation. The probation department's drug testing indicated Appellant was negative for a prescribed drug, Buprenorphine, which should have been in her system, based on the date of the refill and the number of pills missing. The trial court concluded Appellant was not using the drug in the manner prescribed.

         {¶8} When Appellant was given time to address the court, she stated as follows:

"I just, I want to say that first I want to apologize for, for this and I know I hurt a lot of people. I hurt the community, I hurt my family and feels like the last years of dark time in my life I want to move, I want to move on and do good things for the community. I want to work, I almost had, you know got to start work. It took, I was out a little over thirty days and I filled out applications as soon as you released me and it took, I went to two interviews and got hired. So, right I just feel like I needed more time. I want to do the right thing, I want to, I want to work and get into a good treatment center and be there for my kids. I don't want to be in there [sic] lives right now because I don't feel like I'm ready. I want to get better and, and eventually be the mom that I've always been their whole lives."

         {¶9} The trial court imposed a stated prison term of thirty months on Count One and a stated prison term of twenty-four months on Count Two. The sentences were ordered to be served consecutively, for a total of fifty-four months. Appellant was given credit for time served. The trial court commented:

"Ms. Prater uh, you and every other person that uh, trafficking Methamphetamine in this, in this county has absolutely gutted us. You have destroyed us, you have overwhelmed us. And every person you were selling drugs to uh, they were ruining the lives of their children because you can't name me one person that's a good parent that's using Methamphetamine. But you were disseminating it and now I learn that we were even providing food stamps for you so that you didn't have to work, you could just do cash flow with Methamphetamine. ***You did this in the vicinity, your little girl is sitting in the back seat while your [sic] doing a drug transaction. And then if that's not enough then uh, that doesn't phase you, you go out and get uh, more than bulk and less than five times bulk amount and make another transaction."

         {¶10} This timely appeal followed. Where pertinent, additional facts are set forth below.


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