By Frank Lewis
Scioto County Common Pleas Judge William T. Marshall sentenced a Dayton man to 40 years for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activities (often referred to as the RICO statute), money laundering, and trafficking in heroin and cocaine Tuesday afternoon.
Tyronn J. Jewett, 37, of Dayton, was convicted by a Common Pleas jury after a five day trial that began last Monday. The jury deliberated for five hours before returning verdicts of guilty on 33 counts in the indictment, including 25 counts of drug trafficking, two counts of conspiracy, possession of a weapon under disability, receiving stolen property, illegal conveyance of a drug into a detention facility, three counts of money laundering, and two counts of possession of criminal tools.
In all, 24 people, most of whom were local residents, were indicted along with Jewett in April, 2015, by the Scioto County grand jury after a lengthy investigation by the Southern Ohio Drug Task Force. Of the 24 people indicted, 22 have entered pleas of guilty or been convicted by a jury. One defendant, Christopher Wolfe, of Portsmouth, is presently in the Scioto County Jail awaiting trial.
According to evidence presented to the jury by Assistant Prosecutors Pat Apel and Julie Hutchinson, the investigation began in earnest in fall of 2014, and revealed frequent trips by the Defendants to transport heroin from Dayton to Scioto County to be sold from thirteen different residences in Portsmouth, Sciotoville, West Portsmouth and Lucasville, as well as from several bars in Portsmouth.
Fifteen witnesses, who described themselves as drug addicts and/or prostitutes, testified before the jury that Jewett and Defendant Steven North, also of Dayton, would bring large amounts of heroin and cocaine, ranging up to 500 grams per week, to be packaged and distributed in Scioto County. The Prosecutor’s Office estimated that the cash taken by the Defendants back to Dayton was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“This was a very organized drug ring with the distribution operation spreading heroin all through Scioto County,” Apel said. “Local residents would house the Defendants, drive them back to Dayton to refill their supply and bring them back to Scioto County. They would be paid in dope.”
Under questioning by Assistant Prosecutors Apel and Hutchinson, witnesses described how Jewett would move from house to house avoiding detection by law enforcement and would use addicts to deliver dope to local purchasers. The witnesses testified that some of the money would be sent to Dayton by electronic means in order to reduce the number of trips back to Dayton so that more time could be spent on local distribution.
Jewett has prior drug felony convictions from Montgomery and Lawrence Counties and has served time in prison. Jewett is pending a drug trafficking indictment in Gallia County.
Jewett’s attorney, Mark May used the term “respectful” in describing how cooperative his client had been during the process and Jewett himself told Marshall “I would like to apologize to this town.” However, Apel countered with – “How many death sentences did he put out?” and “Many people never did heroin until they met him.”
Jewett has been lodged in the Scioto County jail since his arrest in January 2015. He will be transferred to the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections this week to begin serving his 40 year sentence. Other Defendants have been sentenced or will be sentenced to prison terms ranging from ten years down to five years’ probation.
Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activities is the Ohio version of the Federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, often referred to as RICO.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.
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