Trafficker at large after sentenced in two counties

By Nikki Blankenship -

A fugitive sentenced to 12 years for felony drug charges is at large after being sentenced to six years in Scioto County and six more in Adams County.

Thomas Galloway, 48, of McDermott, was sentenced in Scioto County to six years in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) for one count of aggravated drug possession and three counts of aggravated trafficking of drugs.

In the meantime, Galloway faced additional charges of aggravated possession in Adams County. Rather that incarcerate the felon, Scioto County gave him a stay of execution of his sentence, allowing him to remain on the streets while handling his Adam’s County case.

Galloway then plead guilty to charges in Adams County, where he was sentenced to an additional six years in the ODRC and was still not incarcerated. Rather, he was put on house arrest without a monitor and told to return to prison.

Facing more than a decade of incarceration, Galloway did not show up and his location is still unknown.

Tuesday, Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini and Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware announced that a man sentenced to 12 years in prison for charges in two counties was at large.

A release from the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office added that drugs and firearms were seized during the search for Galloway, which took place June 26 at 3:30 p.m.

The release further stated that Southern Ohio Drug Task Force detectives, along with detectives with the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, visited a camper located in the area of 1468 Tatman Coe Road in McDermott, in an attempt to apprehend Galloway for failing to appear to be conveyed to the ODRC after being convicted in both Scioto County and Adams County Common Pleas Courts on felony drug offenses.

The release concluded by asking that any information regarding Galloway be reported to the Portsmouth Police Department, Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, Scioto County Drug Task Force or to Buckeye Bail Bonds.

Teresa Blankenship, owner of Buckeye Bail Bonds and private investigator, explained that she had a bond for Galloway, but once he was sentenced, her bond should have ended. She also questions why this man was never conveyed to prison.

“Once you’re sentenced, the bond’s over,” the expert with more than a decade of experience stated.

Blankenship explained that after Galloway was sentenced and assumingly incarcerated, she received a forfeiture on him.

“If he’s already sentenced, why was he out anyway?” Blankenship questioned.

Still, Blankenship was needed to apprehend the fugitive, so she decided to help.

“Bail bondsman have huge authority,” she stated.

Blankenship then referenced Taylor vs. Taintor (1872), a federal law which outlines the authority of a bail bondsman in pursuit of a fugitive by stating, “They (bail bondsmen) may pursue him into another state; may arrest him on the sabbath; and if necessary, may break and enter his house for that purpose.”

She added that as a bail bondsman, people give her information that they will not give police and she can search without a warrant.

Blankenship says she had a good lead on Galloway. So, on Monday, she took her agent out to apprehend the man but called in two task force agents as backup. Task force agents then took the lead, leaving her behind as they went after Galloway. They then returned to get Blankenship’s assistance searching the camper.

After Blankenship got Galloway’s girlfriend, 38-year-old Jeanne Michele Stiltner, to give permission for agents to search the camper, the drug task force seized 69 grams of suspected crystal methamphetamine (a.k.a. “ice”) and two firearms. They also arrested Stiltner on an outstanding warrant that had been issued by Adams County Common Pleas Court for a violation of conditional release stemming from a charge of felony drug possession.

Blankenship and her agent remained behind to search for the fugitive but never found him. Still, she questions if this is really her case.

“Yesterday, I’m in court fighting this with Judge Harcha (Scioto County Common Pleas Judge Howard H. Harcha III),” she explained.

Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn explained that in some cases a person may be sentenced to several years in prison but immediately incarcerated.

“It just depends on the situation and the judges,” Kuhn stated.

In reference to Galloway, Kuhn explained that he was given a stay of execution of his sentence in order to face charges in Adams County.

According to Kuhn, Galloway was in jail facing felony drug charges. On Dec. 22, he bonded out.

“He was bonded out. He was not let out,” Kuhn stated. “If I remember correctly, his mother basically pledged her house to the bail bondsman.”

Galloway posted a $5,000 bond on aggravated possession of drugs (a fifth-degree felony) and a $25,000 bond on multiple charges of aggravated drug trafficking (a second-degree felony) on Dec. 22 for the two cases in Scioto County. On the same day, he also posted a $150,000 bond for charges in Adams County.

He then plead guilty to his Scioto County charges on Feb. 8. Judge Harcha sentenced Galloway to 12 months in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) for one count of aggravated possession of drugs and four years and 12 months in the ODRC for three counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs and possessing criminal tools.

In the case of aggravated possession, the docket states, “The defendant is therefore ordered conveyed to the custody of ODRC.”

However, sentencing in the second case, which includes the trafficking charges, states, “The defendant is therefore ordered conveyed to the custody of ODRC with credit for 65 days granted as of this date along with future custody days while the defendant awaits transportation to the appropriate state institution… The court otherwise orders…a stay of execution until completion of his Adams County case so long as he follows in conditions of bond and complies with law.”

Kuhn explained that Galloway then showed up in Adams County for court, where he plead guilty to his pending charges in that county. Kuhn was not sure if Galloway then did not show up for sentencing or if he did not show up for the execution of his sentence.

Judge Harcha confirmed Kuhn’s timeline of the cases, stating, “Mine was first, and then Adams County was second.”

Harcha could not confirm the 12 years of sentencing, with little information about the Adams County case.

“I don’t know how many years he sentenced to. I haven’t added them up,” Harcha stated when asked if it was common to give a stay of execution and allow a felon to remain on the streets when facing 12 years for multiple counts of a second degree felony. “I’m not sure what Adams County did. I think he was supposed to return there for sentencing, and that’s when he didn’t show up.”

Adams County Common Pleas Court could not be reached for comment; however, a copy of the Adams County docket shows that on April 7 Galloway plead guilty to aggravated possession of drugs and was sentenced on the same day to six years to run consecutive with his time in Scioto County for a total of 12 years.

Thus, at the time of Galloway’s disappearance, he knew he was facing a total of 12 years incarceration. He had been sentenced in both courthouse. Still, both trusted him to return to Scioto County to be locked up.

By Nikki Blankenship

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.