A man who smuggled drugs into two detention facilities — a state prison and the Ottawa County jail — was sentenced to prison Friday on the heels of his jury trial.

Corwin Qualls, 40, had his trial in the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court for the smuggling and dealing drugs in the county jail while he was an inmate there.

But before the defense was supposed to present its case, Qualls withdrew his not guilty plea and accepted a plea agreement with the prosecution.

“We were four days into the trial. I rested my case yesterday. The defense was due to present its case, but Mr. Qualls decided against leaving the matter to the jury and accepted a plea agreement,” Ottawa County prosecutor James VanEerten said.

Qualls had multiple cases open in the court for helping a prisoner at the Marion Correctional Facility, Bryant Boyd, smuggle drugs into the prison to sell, and for smuggling drugs into the county jail.

He pleaded guilty to corrupting another with drugs, money laundering, complicity to money laundering, and two counts each of illegal conveyance of drugs and complicity to illegal conveyance of drugs.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the prosecution dropped the other charges against him. Judge Bruce Winters sentenced Qualls to 20 years in prison after both the prosecution and the defense agreed to the sentence.

“The 20-year sentence was very close to the maximum sentence possible,” VanEerten said. “We were very confident in our case for the jury trial, but we thought 20 years was appropriate.”

Qualls was arrested after the death of a Port Clinton woman, Jessica Rich, led to the discovery he was giving drugs to the woman who would then allegedly give it to Bryant Boyd, a prisoner at Marion, to sell inside the prison.

The corrupting charge was related to Rich’s death — investigators believed the fentanyl she overdosed on came from Qualls — but they were unable to prove he was the sole supplier.

“We could not prove individual causation. We could show she died of an opioid overdose, but we couldn’t tell it all came from him,” VanEerten said.

Boyd’s case is still pending for his alleged part in selling the drugs in the prison. Qualls was arrested and brought to the Ottawa County jail, which led to the second set of charges against him.

“He was brought to the jail where it was discovered some time later that he brought heroin and fentanyl in with him and ultimately sold and transferred the drugs to four other inmates,” VanEerten said.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office and the drug task force uncovered the drug dealing in the jail after an inmate overdosed on fentanyl.

Two other men were indicted for their part in the sale of the drugs, Timothy Johnson and Joshua Wyatt. Johnson accepted a plea agreement and has a plea change hearing next week. Wyatt’s case is still pending.

“All the other have entered plea agreements and have received reduced charges for testimonies,” VanEerten said. “The other individuals who were involved the case were addicts who acted as middlemen for the drug exchanges to get drugs for themselves.”

Published by sanduskyregister.com