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Sentences handed out in drug ring case

Saturday, July 8, 2017

By Joe Gorman


A common refrain Friday among three of four defendants sentenced in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for their roles in a drug ring was that they were around the wrong people.

Edward Blackmon, 39, currently in the county jail; Telia Lawson, 39, of Sunshine Avenue; and Christopher Simmons, 40, of West Heights Avenue, all said they became involved with the wrong people, which led them to selling drugs.

Also sentenced was Jose Suarez, 36, of Kreiger Lane.

Judge Maureen Sweeney handed down the sentences, all of which were agreed upon by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office helped prosecute the case, which included indictments against 20 people in November, two from California.

Of the local people indicted, all but one have had their cases resolved, and that person is awaiting a competency evaluation.

The two defendants from California are still at large. There are warrants out for their arrest.

According to the attorney general’s office, the ring was supplied with drugs from California, Michigan and Arizona, and drugs were sometimes shipped by mail to the home addresses of the members, who in turn divided the drugs for street-level dealers to sell.

Members of the ring were selling heroin and marijuana.

Blackmon received a four-year sentence after guilty pleas to a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and four counts of trafficking in marijuana. His attorney, Sam Amendolara, said Blackmon had served a 10-year federal prison sentence for selling drugs, but when he was released from prison, he began spending time with people who sell drugs, and he began doing those things himself again.

His sentence will run concurrently with a sentence he received from federal court for violating his probation in that case.

Blackmon said he wants to use his time in prison to reflect on his life so he can stay away from trouble in the future.

Lawson received a three-year sentence for charges of trafficking in heroin and possession of heroin. She has no prior criminal record.

“I apologize for the wrong choice I made – getting involved with someone I had no business getting involved with,” Lawson said. Prosecutors said they would not oppose a request for early release from Lawson after she serves nine months of her sentence.

Simmons received a two-year sentence on a charge of possession of heroin. He also said he was associating with people who led him into committing criminal activity.

Suarez received a one-year prison sentence on a charge of possession of heroin. He said he became involved because he was short on funds due to a medical problem. He asked for probation, but Judge Sweeney declined his request without comment.