Last arraigned in heroin ring pleads guilty


By Joe Gorman

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The last of 35 people arraigned for their roles in a heroin operation in which indictments were handed up in July agreed to settle his case Monday.

Trevon Howell, 26, of South Whitney Avenue, pleaded guilty in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before Judge Shirley J. Christian to a first-degree felony charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony count of conspiracy to trafficking in heroin, a second degree felony count of trafficking in heroin and a third-degree felony count of trafficking in heroin.

Margaret Tomaro, a prosecutor with the state attorney general’s office who helped the county prosecutor’s office prepare the case, and James Wise, Howell’s attorney, are recommending a sentence of six years in prison.

Sentencing will be at a later date. Howell has been free and will remain free on bond until he is sentenced.

Last July, prosecutors indicted 37 people for their roles in a ring that distributed heroin on the East Side, taking a two-pronged approach. About a dozen people were targeted as leaders of the ring or sellers of the drug and prosecutors wanted to ensure they received stiff sentences for their crimes.

The rest of those indicted were users of the drug, and they were indicted on low level felony charges with the idea of getting them treatment for their addictions, so that the market for the drug would dry up. Tomaro said Howell was supplying drugs to one of the leaders of the ring, Terrence Rushton, so Rushton in turn could sell them on the street.

Rushton, 33, faces a 10-year prison sentence when he is sentenced May 5.

Wise said the plea comes from the result of “intense” negotiations and he said the pleas are something his client could accept for taking responsibility for his role in the ring.

Judge Christian lauded prosecutors and the defense attorneys who represented their clients for allowing the cases to be disposed of so quickly.

“That was no small undertaking,” Judge Christian said. “I believe everybody’s best interests – the state, the defendants and the general public – were served.”

County assistant Prosecutor Martin Desmond also worked on the cases.

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