By Peter H. Milliken
Zoltan J. Kozic and his brother, Jamie D. Kozic, engaged in a corrupt enterprise consisting of burglaries across four counties and OxyContin trafficking in Mahoning County, a prosecutor told jurors in his opening statement in the Kozics’ trial.
Defense lawyers admitted their clients’ drug addiction but said the rest of the prosecution’s case doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny.
Martin P. Desmond, an assistant county prosecutor, outlined his case Wednesday in the trial, over which visiting Judge Thomas P. Curran is presiding in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
Zoltan Kozic, 37, of East Calla Road, New Middletown, is charged with six counts of burglary, two counts of OxyContin trafficking and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Jamie Kozic, 31, of Wilson Street, Struthers, is charged with 11 burglary counts, four OxyContin trafficking counts and one count each of possessing criminal tools (a screwdriver) and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Their sister, Jennifer V. Kozic, 34, of East McGaffney Avenue, Lowellville, faces two OxyContin trafficking counts, and one count each of burglary, receiving stolen property and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. She is to be tried separately at a later date.
The OxyContin trafficking occurred early in 2010 in Mahoning County, and the burglaries occurred in late 2009 and early 2010 in Parkman (Geauga County), Hubbard, Boardman, Poland and Columbiana, according to the indictment.
Confidential police informants recorded the drug transactions, Desmond said, adding that Jamie Kozic admitted during one of the transactions that he participated in a burglary.
Items taken in the burglaries included a credit card, televisions, firearms, cash and jewelry, with the stolen jewelry having been pawned in Mahoning County, Desmond said.
“This is not going to be about the word of one person. ... That word was corroborated again and again,” Desmond told the jury.
Atty. Jeffrey Limbian said his client, Zoltan Kozic, became addicted to the OxyContin he took because of pain from a leg injury. “That doesn’t make him a burglar,” Limbian added.
“He’s not part of a drug enterprise. He’s a drug addict,” Limbian said. “This isn’t drug trafficking. It’s drug possession and use.
“The elements of these offenses cannot be met if there’s close scrutiny to the facts,” Limbian told the jury.
Atty. Douglas King said his client, Jamie Kozic, also suffered from drug addiction.
“They’re going to try to turn a couple of drug addicts who are using drugs into the kingpins of crime in and around Mahoning County,” King said of the prosecution. “The evidence does not add up to that.”
King urged the jurors to be skeptical of the testimony they’ll hear from people charged with crimes who cooperated with authorities in exchange for leniency.
“There are no burglaries proved beyond a reasonable doubt here,” he said. “There is even less evidence, ladies and gentlemen, of some elaborate scheme or enterprise between these two brothers.”