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State v. Gohagan

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

August 8, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TIMMON GOHAGAN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-18-625239-A

         JUDGMENT: AFFIRMED

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Geoffrey Minter and Daniel Van, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee.

          Myron P. Watson, for appellant.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MARY J. BOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Timmon Gohagan, appeals his sentence. He raises four assignments of error for our review:

1. The trial court erred when it imposed a maximum and consecutive sentence without considering mitigation, genuine remorse, and support from the trial record to warrant that type of sentence.
2. The appellant's imposed maximum consecutive sentence was contrary to law, and not supported by the record.
3. The trial court committed reversible error in failing to make required findings on the record prior to sentencing the appellant to serve consecutive sentences.
4. The trial court denied the defendant of his right to due process of law to a fair and impartial sentencing.

         {¶ 2} Finding no merit to his assigned errors, we affirm.

         I. Procedural History and Factual Background

         {¶ 3} In May 2018, Gohagan was indicted on ten counts, including four counts of trafficking heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, and tetrahydrocannabinol ("THC"), four counts of possessing the same drugs, one count of having weapons while under disability, and one count of possessing criminal tools. All of the counts carried a firearm specification and numerous forfeiture specifications.

         {¶ 4} Gohagan initially entered into a guilty plea in August 2018 to three second-degree felony trafficking charges, but later withdrew this plea after cooperating with police and entered into a new plea deal three months later. Gohagan ultimately pleaded guilty to an amended indictment of three fifth-degree felonies, including two counts of trafficking in violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)(2) (heroin and cocaine) and one count of attempted trafficking in violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)(2) and 2923.02 (fentanyl). As part of the plea agreement, Gohagan agreed to forfeit six cell phones, several firearms and ammunition, drug paraphernalia, miscellaneous property, and $17, 668. The remaining seven counts were nolled.

         {¶ 5} At the sentencing hearing, defense counsel informed the trial court that Gohagan "has a lot of family support." Defense counsel further explained that Gohagan has "substance abuse issues that [were] mitigating here." According to defense counsel, Gohagan is a good person who made some bad decisions. Defense counsel explained that Gohagan's mother was ill and Gohagan played a large part in taking care of her, which showed what type of person he could be. Defense counsel further implored that the court take Gohagan's age into consideration, stating that he believed Gohagan was young enough to turn his life around (29 years old at the time of sentencing).

         {¶ 6} The state informed the trial court that it agreed to a "significant reduction" from more serious charges due to "the defendant and his family and because of the support that he has shown in the community." According to the state, Gohagan "took full responsibility for his role in these charges." The state brought Detective Matos from the Cleveland Police Department to explain Gohagan's role in solving the cases.

         {¶ 7} Detective Matos explained that Gohagan's family was "a very, very nice family." Detective Matos said that Gohagan's nephew offered to help his uncle in any way possible. Gohagan's nephew gave Detective Matos information that Gohagan relayed to him regarding "two major investigations" that eventually enabled her to seize 12 pounds of marijuana in one case and 40 grams of fentanyl, 40 grams of heroin, and approximately one ounce of cocaine in another case. The state told the court that based on Gohagan and his nephew's help, "we marked these cases down significantly."

         {¶ 8} The court indicated that considering Gohagan's criminal history, the court did not believe that the state should have reduced Gohagan's offenses as much as it did. The court stated, "He's been selling drugs a long time, and it's no surprise to me that his family would support him. Anyone who can make $17, 000 as quickly as he can make it, I can understand that being very important to your family. Isn't it?" Gohagan denied that was the reason that his family supported him. He stated that his family "was already supportive" of him.

         {¶ 9} The court then asked Gohagan, "And you don't use drugs, do you?" Gohagan replied that he did. When the court asked him what drugs, Gohagan stated that he used opiates. The court accused Gohagan of lying because Gohagan only told the presentence investigator that he used marijuana and alcohol. According to the presentence investigation report ("PSI"), Gohagan denied that he used any other substances.

         {¶ 10} The court further asked Gohagan, "And you've been selling heroin a long time, correct? That's your drug of choice for sale, correct?" Gohagan replied, "Yes," and agreed that he had, as far back as 2015. Gohagan agreed that he had two trafficking cases in 2015 where he was selling heroin in one and heroin and cocaine in the other. When Gohagan told the court that he had learned his lesson, the court responded, "Well, you know what? You were on probation to [another judge] and you are still selling heroin. You know she put you on probation with all these conditions, but that didn't stop you from selling heroin in our community, did it?"

         {¶ 11} Defense counsel spoke to the court again on Gohagan's half. Defense counsel explained that Gohagan had a number of positive urine tests that were submitted during the pendency of the present case, and thus, the probation department and the court were aware of Gohagan's opiate use. Defense counsel implored the court to be "open minded relative to the fact that [Gohagan] did have a problem with substance abuse," and that it was a "mitigating factor in terms of evaluating this case." Defense counsel stated, "I don't want the court to have the misimpression that [Gohagan] willfully deceived the court [about his opiate use] when it was a matter of record."

         {¶ 12} The court explained that the fact that Gohagan lied to the probation department was "not a big deal to me here." What was important to the court was the fact that Gohagan "had three previous cases for drug trafficking heroin, comes out and goes right back to it. That's enough. That's enough. ...


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