Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common
Pleas Case No. CR-18-625239-A
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and Geoffrey Minter and Daniel Van, Assistant
Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee.
P. Watson, for appellant.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
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
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. ...