COSHOCTON — Although he tried to portray himself as the victim, Judge Robert Batchelor didn't agree with a Coshocton man and sentenced him to prison Friday in Coshocton County Common Pleas Court.
Ernest M. Hart II, 55, was indicted in August with aggravated trafficking in methamphetamine, a second-degree felony, and trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound, a third-degree felony from an incident on July 15. He entered guilty pleas to the charges on Dec. 6.
The Coshocton County Sheriff's Office said a traffic stop was made on the evening in question on Ohio 16 with assistance from the Holmes County K-9 Unit. The K-9 unit conducted a narcotics sweep of the vehicle and a positive alert was indicated. A search of the vehicle was conducted and a large number of illegal drugs were discovered, authorities stated.
The indictment said the fentanyl was between five and 10 grams and the methamphetamine was between five and 50 times the bulk amount.
Hart received an indefinite term of 6 to 9 years in prison for the methamphetamine charge and 30 months for the fentanyl charge to be served concurrently. He was given credit for 117 days of local incarceration. Upon release from prison he will serve from 18 months to 3 years of post release control.
Prosecutor Jason Given recommended the six years minimum. Public Defender Marie Seiber asked for the time to be three years on each charge served consecutively. She said this would allow her client to earn good time credit and apply for judicial release.
Batchelor said based on the amount of drugs and the fact Hart was transporting the drugs into Coshocton County from elsewhere, this being Columbus, he felt structuring the sentence they way he did was warranted.
While Hart didn't speak in court, Batchelor said comments from the pre-sentence investigation had Hart painting himself as the pawn of others. Even if Hart thought of himself as just a lackey, Batchelor didn't see it that way.
"I understand you might consider yourself just a mule, but at the same time you have to understand the devastation your actions have caused this county," Batchelor told Hart. "You speak of yourself almost as a victim, but the victims are lined up outside. The victims are the parents and their children who need foster care. The victims are the people who end up dead or in the emergency room and their families."
This article originally appeared on Coshocton Tribune: Coshocton man receives 6 years in prison for drug trafficking